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February 6, 2009

Write or Die

This Extra Ink was written by Betsy C.

As I'm sure you've guessed from the title, this week's Extra Ink is all about writing--particularly about a pretty snazzy little site that can help out writers of all stripes. But first, we just wanted to let you know about a couple of great writing programs coming up here at Teen Ink! We're offering online writing courses starting February 17, March 17 and April 14. And for girls in grades 9-12 this school year, there's our residential summer New York Summer Writing Program. These are all great opportunities--be sure to check them out!

I was going to write this Extra Ink last week. Then I was going to write it Sunday, then

yesterday, then an hour ago. . . you get the picture. At least I'm writing it now,

right? But anyone who's ever been a student (or a teacher) can tell you that the sooner

you get started on something, the better the end product will be. The problem, as many

of us procrastinators know, is that a deadline that's days or weeks away often isn't a

big enough incentive to get us to actually sit our butts down and start writing. It

seems like the inspiration just won't hit until the last few hours before your paper is

due. This has driven me to the brink of insanity on several occasions. Is there a cure?

Perhaps not. But through the magic and wonder of the internet, I've found one site that

goes pretty far toward keeping me on the right track once I actually do sit down and

encounter the dreaded blank screen.

This miracle of modern internet is Dr.

Wicked's Write Or Die Writing Lab. It sounds a little intense, and it is, but trust

me: it's totally worth it. I would never have won NaNoWriMo back in November (if you

haven't discovered NaNo yet, check out this Extra Ink from Fall 2007) without

the help of this excellent little program. The basic concept is to give the writer

(that's you) an immediate deadline, with varying negative consequences if that deadline

isn't met. In the words of Dr. Wicked: "The idea is to instill the would-be writer with

a fear of not writing. We do this by employing principles taught in Introduction to

Psychology. Anyone remember Operant Conditioning and Negative Reinforcement? Negative

Reinforcement strengthens a behavior because a negative condition is stopped or avoided

as a consequence of the behavior."

You write on the 'notepad' provided on the site, and you enter your own time and

wordcount goals, say, 500 words in ten minutes. Then just write away at as fast a clip

as you can manage! If at any time you stop writing, your negative consequence kicks in.

Depending on the level you've selected (Gentle, Normal, or Kamikaze,) you will

either be reminded by a little box of text, hear an unpleasant noise, or actually see

your writing start to delete itself!

This may not be the ultimate cure for procrastination, but I've found it to be crucially

helpful on more than one occasion. You may even surprise yourself when you discover just

how quickly you can write 1,000 words. But the greatest reward of all, of course, is

when your paper is due in 6 hours and you?re drifting calmly off to sleep, your paper

complete and your mind at ease.

addendum to last week's EI: if you're planning on a summer abroad, make sure to get your passports early!

This month's contest: college reviews! Go to FaceBook or MySpace to find it, or e-mail betsy@teenink.com.

Do you know what's up at teenink.com? We're getting ready to add some great new features. Make sure to check us out often!

FACEBOOK/MYSPACE GIVEAWAY Teen Ink Group Subscription raffle! Join our FaceBook group or friend us on MySpace and you'll be automatically entered to win a year's subscription to Teen Ink Magazine. Multiple winners each month! You can also use FaceBook and MySpace to ask us questions and participate in great writing and art contests.

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