A self reflection on why writers write

While shopping for Christmas gifts this weekend I stumbled across a gift for myself:
642 Things To Write About by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

Its simple yellow notepad looking cover and the word “write” immediately jumped at me through the shelves of endless books at the store, its title vaguely familiar in the back of my head. I picked it up and without immediately turning to the back to read a synopsis that would give me a description of the seemingly obvious book, I went straight to the source, opening it up to a random page. It looked just like a test from one of my high school classes: a two to three sentence command with a dozen or so corresponding empty lines hungry for my response.

“Write two descriptions of yourself for an online dating service. First, be the kind of guy/girl who’d be taken home to meet the mother. Then, try a hot, sexy version.”

Your reaction is probably similar to what mine was. That was if you felt like it really read “Tell me the square root of 59 divided by 11 multiplied by 7934 plus 6 minus 98 divided by 486.” I’m a journalism student, there’s a reason I said goodbye to math at the very first chance I had in grade 11. Basically, I felt very much out of my comfort zone. Like, why are you asking me to do such a thing, I would never join an online dating site.

I immediately bought the book, and two more to serve as Christmas presents for some very talented writers who I feel would really appreciate something like this. Unlike my sister who was like “ew why are you buying that? That’s so stupid, what a waste of money!” Clearly, it’s a “writers thing”.

Anyways, while the book is such a great concept and I truly cannot wait to dive into it and “write a short story that is set in Detroit in 1956 in which a car floor mat plays a crucial role” it really got me thinking deeper.

You see, before I had my name published in print, interned at local magazines, interviewed celebrities and wrote articles and features about varying topics, before I even knew I wanted to be a writer and study journalism, I…wrote.
As a young child with way too much time on my hands, I found joy in writing. Starting from when I was around 9-years-old I wrote short fiction stories, diary entries, original songs, poems, and even created my own mini magazines.

I didn’t do it for an assignment, a portfolio piece, a paycheck or to see my name published in print, I did it because of pure pleasure and enjoyment. I think for a long time I forgot that that is exactly what being a writer is about. I’ve been so caught up with school and work and internships and focusing on the future. Whatever I’ve written during the past few years, ever since I made it a goal to apply and get into journalism school in grade 11, has been written with a purpose. An intent to get published, to get paid, to get my name printed and on a masthead and ultimately to get a job in the future.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy attending events and interviewing people in order to tell their stories to readers. But I really think writing is about being in the present and not worrying about the future. It’s about enjoying the feeling of putting your thoughts to paper, giving life to new worlds and characters, and creating something fresh and new.

Creative writing hasn’t just been a hobby of mine since I was 11-years-old, but a passion and all it took was this book 642 Things To Write About to remind me. With it’s “witty, outrageous, and thought-provoking writing prompts” I hope to rediscover my long lost love for writing and look forward to recounting “the time I peed my pants”.

This is not a sponsored post but thanks 642 Things To Write About and the San Fransisco Writers’ Grotto for creating such a beauty. I highly recommend it for any writers out there! I would also love to hear the reasons why you fellow bloggers/readers/writers out there write and what inspires you to do so in the comments below.


Confessions From… Aly Silverio (Jawbreaking)

This new weekly column “Confessions From…” will feature amazing young people who are living their dream or working their hardest to make it come true. It’ll feature a variety of bloggers, actors, singers and even fashion designers. I figured the best person to begin with would be Aly Silverio, the 20-year-old founder of Jawbreaking. Her cute and relatable clothing has been seen on the likes of Ed Sheeran, One Direction, 5SOS and even Simple Plan, just to name a few.

I spoke to the super sweet and super talented North Carolina native last year for a Faze Magazine article, so please keep in mind that this interview is from 2012, being not the most up to date answers. Nonetheless, Aly serves as an inspiring role model to youngsters everywhere.


How did you describe the journey of how you got to where you are now?
Aly Silverio: Basically when I was 15 I started a jewelry company, basically because I didn’t want a real job because I was lazy so I started this jewelry company where I made necklaces out of clay and looking back on it, they were really really terrible quality but people liked it so I went on with that for like three years and just improved on my jewelry techniques. And I always wanted to do a jewelry company but it costed a lot of money and as jawbreaking jewlry started to expand, I started to use that money towards the clothing company that I always wanted to do. And once that started it kind of just took off and now im at where I’m at today because of that jewelry company.

So how do you think the jewelry company started to expand, what was it that really broadened that?
AS: When I started doing it I just started giving necklaces to random people, like people that had followings like bands and stuff. I honestly don’t know why they wore them because personally looking back I don’t really like what I did, but it got to where I am today so I appreciate that I was out there when I was 15. It just stemmed into this whole clothing company.

Do you have any hopes or plans to get back into jewelry?
I don’t think I’ll get into the jewelry I was doing because it was clay and it’s so time consuming. But we’ve been thinking of re-releasing and collaborating with another jewelry designer, or making some exclusive metal pieces not clay. It’s so time consuming so we don’t wanna get back into that again. But hopefully doing some jewelry that’s not clay in the future.

When you first started the brand where did you expect it to go? What were your goals?
I definitely had a lot of goals which I definitely accomplished and I didn’t think I was going to accomplish in such a short amount of time, like getting into stores, I didn’t think that was going to happen at all this year. But it did you know, and you just have to work hard for it. And just believe that you can do it and that’s what I did and I definitely succeeded in a lot of my goals that were on my bucket list.

How important do you think it is for teens who have dreams like this to set goals for themselves?
So important, if you don’t have goals then you don’t know where you’re going with it. So for me I put my goals on my ceiling and I wrote them up and I look at it literally everyday and I’m like “yup, that’s what I wanna do.” And it reminds you of what you need to accomplish if you get far in life.


Where did the name “jawbreaking” come from?
It’s really not an interesting story but when I was 15, I honestly didn’t think I was going to be saying jawbreaking every five seconds of my life, I didn’t think it was going to stick, I didn’t think it was going to become this big—but when I was 15 I was with one of my best friends Alexa and we just wanted to make it roll off the tongue and since I was doing jewelry I wanted it to start with a J and we were just thinking of different names and stuff that started with a J and I came across the words jawbreaker and jawdropping, and I thought “oh I’m going to combine the words cuz that sounds cool!” and that was 15 year old Aly’s mind and I just kind of came up with that and it stuck and now everyone is kind of used to it. So when I started the clothing company I kinda just dropped the jewelry and it just stayed jawbreaking.

So how do you go about creating your designs? Where do you get inspiration and stuff like that?
AS: Basically my life. It’s kind of a vague take, but I’ve come to realize that I think I’m the “taylor swift of creating shirts” because the last line was kind of inspired by boys. Like I have a shirt that says “boys suck” and it was called “I love you to the moon and back” and it was because there was a bunch of celestial things like moons and stars and then also “I love you to the moon and back” because there’s always that one guy that you’re never gunna get over so I kind of based it off that. Which I never thought I’d be able to do, but I somehow did it and I just base it off what’s going on in my life. Not only relationships, but travel and my friends and inside jokes I can make into a shirt. It’s basically my life, it’s a very interesting way of creating shirts.

I’m sure there were many obstacles in the past four years, what’s the biggest one you’d say you came over?
Definitely, the first thing I can think of is just people who think you can’t do it, it’s definitely hard coming from not even like your best friends, but people who are close to you and you think that they’d be there for you, but there are people who are going to try and knock you down and be like “oh that’s impossible, you can’t do that, how are you gunna do that, how are you gunna afford that?” but I just use that has my fuel to my fire. I mean you use that to you’re advantage so you can prove those people wrong. So that’s how I overcame that and unlike you still deal with it even now. My family’s very very supportive and they help me more than you’d even know.
It’s really great to have such a great support system from ym family and my best friends.

What do you think is important for teens when pursuing a dream?
AS: You can’t let people tell you that you can’t do something. Because if you believe that then it’s just going to be embedded in your mind, “wow I really can’t do this.” So you really have to, it sounds cheesy, but you really have to believe in yourself.

Was there a specific moment in your career where you just kind of stopped and thought, “wow I can’t believe this happened” ?
AS: Oh yeah, One Direction! When I first heard about One Direction like a year ago, I honestly had no idea who they were, I never heard of them before in my life. But one of my best friends Emily was like, “you got to listen to this band, they’re british they’re cute, they sing very well.” So I was like “alright I’ll check it out.” I’ve heard so much talk about them on twitter but I never even bothered to check them out. So I was like who are these people? So I checked them out and thus began my obsession with One Direction. And they were doing this tour with big time rush in the US, so my friend was going, and I didn’t even get tickets, I didn’t even try they were sold out in apparently ten minutes. So my local radio stations were doing contests and we were all trying to win it and two of my best friends won it so I didn’t win. But I went anyway because I was like, “you know what, I’m going to get them some shirts” so we went and basically after their radio interview, they’re like walking to their bands and my friend actually handed Zayn one of the shirts and I didn’t think he was going to wear it. I was like “let’s just hope”. There were so many screaming girls and I was yelling, because his van window was down and I was like hey I hope you like that shirt, I designed it!” and that was all I got to say. And I was on tumblr a few days later, just scrolling through, and was like hey that’s One Direction from when they were in North Carolina and was like Zayn’s wearing my shirt!” he had changed into it later that day for the today show interview and that was probably the pivotal moment of my life, in my career and I was like “wow, one direction, which is the biggest boy band in the entire world!” it was just crazy and ever since then they’ve kind of all caught onto it.


Was there a point where your line just “blew up” and had that kind of “big break” or did it happen slowly?
AS: I think it definitely happened slowly if you count from 2008 for sure. But to me when I look at it from the past years it has blown up primarily because of like one direction, word of mouth and everyone just keeps telling others. Word of mouth has been insane in the past year and a half.

You’ve already accomplished so much, but what would you say is your ultimate career goal?
AS: It’s very vague but I just want to be able to do this forever and still be happy doing it and actually be able to make a living off of it so that it is my actually job. So that I don’t have to work for someone else.

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Be sure to check out shopjawbreaking.com for tees, crop tops, sweaters and more, and be sure to follow Aly herself on twitter @alysilverio and @shopjawbreaking.

Free the Children’s We Day Toronto

We Day has always been an event I’ve wanted to attend, but never had the chance to. So when I was able to get a media pass I couldn’t help but be excited.

What I knew of We Day was this:
-There were Celebrity guests and performances
-There were 20, 000 kids who showed up
-It was a day full of inspiring speeches and videos

But nothing could have prepared me for the feeling of walking into the jam packed ACC with thousands upon thousands of kids cheering for the same common goal: to change the world for the greater good.

We Day 2012 in Toronto saw Al Gore, Hedley, Jake Zeldin, Jennifer Hudson, Jesse Giddings, Justice Murray Sinclair, Justin Trudeau, Martin Sheen, Molly Burke, Romeo A. Dallaire, Shawn Desman, Spencer West, The Tenors and Tyler Shaw take the stage.

It was a day full of excitement, dancing and cheering and one that left students with the inspiration and materials to “be the change they want to see in the world.”

Craig Kielburger, Nelly Furtado and Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard came into the press room for a press conference and to announce Free the Children and RBC’s mission to provide 100, 000 people with permanenet sources of clean water through Canada’s largest penny drive deemed the “We Create Change” campaign.

Full gallery of We Day Toronto:

We Day will continue to inspire kids as it makes it’s way across Canada, bringing the inspiring messages to thousands of more kids in cities like Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Edmonton during the largest season to date.