Writing and Basketball-Iris Tenorio

Ever since I was 8, I loved basketball. I loved how the ball bounced in my hands. I loved the sound of quick dribbling. I loved the slight screech basketball shoes made a defender was crossed over. I loved the adrenaline rush from stealing a ball and the victory of making the, eternally practiced, left handed lay-up. I loved the dedication of my coaches, yelling because they cared. I didn’t like so much the look of anger when we botched plays up or the yelling that came after repetitive amounts turnovers. Every suicide run, sprints and wall sits we had to do were worth the joy of playing ball.


Basketball was my way of freeing myself from the stresses of school. On the court, I was able to rid myself of tests scores that lowered my GPA and temporarily forget the many assignments waiting for me. Every year I looked forward to the beginning of basketball season. I loved the rigorous Saturday practices because that meant I could become an even better player. I loved leaving the gym drenched in sweat, muscles aching, and being so tired that I would pass out on the car ride home.


Writing is the same way. Dribbling between players is paralleled to the joy of describing a complicated scene you can vividly picture in your head. Swishing that three pointer is like when you add that dramatic dash at the end of the sentence—marking a clear buzzer beater.


For me, playing basketball was a natural talent. Although I was never the best, the motions were instinctive. I could feel the potential the ball had everytime the soft leather would touch my hand as I dribbled. If it was up to me I would play all day; perfecting my dribble, practicing that perfect spin that would result in precise shots, repeating the movements of plays until there was no room for error.


This is how writing is at a young age. Many elementary school students love to write. For them, it is simple. It consists of simply writing down your thoughts. The hatred for writing is mostly cultivated when teachers expect a higher caliber of essays. The fun, creative writing, morphs into technical and constrictive torture. Ideas are suppressed because the student is more worried about pleasing the teacher rather than having fun.


At age 16, the same thing happened to me. After the school hired new basketball coaches, there were a lot of adjustments that needed to be made. Before, I had worked hard so that I could prove to myself that I could make shots in games. I played for me and my teammates. All of this changed when the new coach came.


Fear started to dominate my talents. I overthought every play, every shot, every layup, and every time I touched the ball I was so afraid of messing up that I would avoid being open. This fear was triggered not only by the coaches’ yelling but because I dreaded making mistakes. Mistakes meant that I would no longer get to play for the rest of the game. Mistakes dictated my playing time. So what would be better than messing up? Not messing up. My conclusion was to not create an opportunity for a mistake. My style of playing went from being open to avoiding the ball. If I was never passed the ball, I could not be at fault for any mistakes on offense.


The logic doesn’t seem to make sense right now but the 16 year-old me had made all of the calculations necessary. I knew that my coach would not complain if I played good defense and followed his plays. He would, however, have a fit if I turned over the ball.


Just like my skills dissipated with the new coach, the same thing can happen with writing. Unique rhetoric styles and ideas can be hushed behind a teachers style preference. Constrictive essay prompts can produce boring and mediocre writing. The fear of getting a B can diminish the potential of great writing.


As a student, it is important to remember that we are all writers. There is no need to compare each other’s skills. There is not need to belittle ourselves. We are all writers.


Reflecting back to my 8-year-old self; I played simply because I liked bouncing a ball. The sound, to me, was enticing. With the new coach, my love for basketball, disappeared. Instead of being a stress reliever it transformed into an additional task. Instead of looking forward to games, I dreaded every game we had. I wanted to quit, but just as I was going to give up I realized that I was not going to let one person ruin something that I loved so much. The sport hadn’t changed, just the instruction method.


I decided then I was not going to worry about messing up. That worry had already cost me so much, it had cost me my joy in the game. I was going to play, just because I wanted to, just because it was fun.


That transformation resulted in my performance becoming exponentially better. When I failed, I failed with confidence. It wasn’t because I was trying to avoid making mistakes. Rather it was because I simply failed. By shooing away my fears, the coach, I had previously hated, was finally able to mold me into a better basketball player. Surprisingly, I improved because I became somebody he could work with.


In writing, especially when teachers begin to teach towards a standardized test, you shouldn’t fear failure. Fear will only result in horrible writing. The best approach is to have fun. Temporarily disregard the restrictions and simply let your voice dictate your writing. From that point, it is easy to edit the paper into something that teacher is looking for. This will give the best kind of writing.


Many times we overthink every word that is being said. We seek perfection in our first draft. This is not the goal. The first draft needs to be something genuine, raw, and natural. From there, direction can be instilled. With direction new styles of writing can emerge and what once was mediocre can become outstanding essays.

Put it in Drive and Go!-Hannah Bursey


Writing isn’t hard. Most people know the feeling of being in the writing zone, a space where words seem to jump onto the page and ideas flow easily together. No, writing isn’t hard but getting started is. Some people can sit in neutral for hours staring at a blank page hoping inspiration will strike. Staring at this blank page and having no idea where to begin can seem like a roadblock with no detour signs, hopeless. You can spend as long as you want parked and going nowhere, but if you want to move the best solution is to put it in drive and go!

The best way to start writing is by, surprise, writing! Spend some time thinking about your topic then grab a pen and paper and begin jotting down everything that has come to your mind. Don’t be concerned about making it fit a certain format or having half finished sentences, just get down all of your thoughts. Put it in drive and go! Recording these ideas makes sure that no good ones are lost and opens up your mind to new ones. In other words, it will help get the juices flowing and will move you from first gear all the way up to fourth.

Once you’ve finished getting your ideas down take a break and do something else. Come back later with fresh eyes and a fresh mind. Review the things you’ve written, and make connections between them. Pretty soon you’ll be able to get a clear vision of what you are thinking about your topic and a natural order of ideas will appear. Suddenly, you’ve gone zero to sixty and have all the main ideas for your paper without even realizing it.  Just like that, the hardest part of the writing process is over.

Give a Damn-Corbin Ritchie

Too often we forget why we write.  From the time we enter kindergarten, we are subconsciously bombarded with hoops—both behavioral and intellectual.  Sit still. Read this book. Don’t poke your neighbor. Raise your hand. Write about such-and-such a topic. Do this worksheet.  

Some hoops are helpful. If we don’t learn our ABC’s, we probably won’t get very far in school, but more importantly we won’t be literate.  But some hoops are not so helpful. When we are taught that a certain writing process is the best way to successfully produce writing, many students believe this hoopy rubbish and lose focus of the reason we write.  They become caught up in the requirements of hopping through the hoop and don’t become writers.

But sometimes hoops are self-imposed.  I took AP English my senior year of high school.   It was my teacher’s personal crusade to prepare the seniors of Timpanogos High School for the AP exam and college.  Admittedly, he did an above-average job, but my attitude turned writing assignments that could have transformed me into a writer into meaningless hoops.  Our most frequent assignments were “thought exercises.” Thought exercises were ten sentences each. We chose a short passage from the book we were reading and wrote a paragraph of ten sentences, beginning with a topic sentence, quoting the book, and expounding on a universal theme, literary device, or some other noteworthy element of the writing.  We were required to write five thought exercises for every reading assignment we had. This meant that we usually wrote fifty sentences per night. That’s an awful lot for a seventeen-year-old girl who is in five AP classes and drowning in college applications.

But I was a good student. So I wrote those thought exercises. Ten sentences each. Five thought exercises per night.  And I improved my writing. But I did not become a writer.      

What was missing?  Why didn’t I become a writer? Was it a bad assignment?  Was my teacher not passionate enough about the subject? Did we read boring literature that didn’t inspire thought?  No. It was a well-thought out assignment that allowed for vast amounts of creativity, my teacher had enough passion about that class to last for years to come, and we read some of the most important pieces of literature ever written.

 The problem was that I didn’t give a damn.

I didn’t like the class and I didn’t like the assignment. I completed it obligatorily to get an A in the class and get into college. I didn’t do it to explore literature or express my feelings about the complex subjects we were reading about.  What I’m trying to say is that the difference between jumping through hoops and really becoming something from the experiences we have and the passages we write is whether or not we give a damn.

So give a damn.  

Give a damn about writing.  

Don’t just give a damn about writing, but give a damn about the things that will fuel your writing fire and inspire you to create.  

Give a damn about your life and those around you.

Notice beauty and give a damn enough to share it with others.

See the ugliness in the world and give a damn enough to write about that.  

Write about the things you give a damn about.

Give a damn about becoming a writer and not just going through the motions or jumping through the hoops.  

Give a damn.

You is Kind. You is Smart. You is Important.-Camille Masino

Standing in the dark, with my heart beating fast, I listen to the beautiful Tchaikovsky Waltz of the Snow music starting to play, and I begin to get the butterflies in my stomach. I check to make sure my hair is perfectly slicked back into a bun, my beautiful white sparkly tutu is all hooked up and secured, and I check if my pointe shoe ribbons are all tucked in ready to go. I hear my cue to go on to stage, and for the next 8 minutes I am the beautiful snow queen in the Nutcracker guiding the beautiful snow flurry dancers to dance around the stage with me, just like how we have been rehearsing for the past 4 months. I do my last jump in perfect splits in the air, and I nail the landing. The audience roars with applause and the big heavy curtains closes. This was a dream come true for me to dance as the snow queen in my company’s production of the Nutcracker.  

I just described a brief moment in my life, which probably made the reader hooked to the story that I was sharing. We all love to learn more about others, and we all have great experiences to share. Everyone in this life is on a journey, and that journey consists of many emotions, such as: loss, happiness, excitement, loneliness, accomplishments, and many more. I believe we are all born with greatness, therefore we all have many important things to say that could help others on their own personal story. When we talk about our personal stories in our writing it helps the reader have a stronger sense that you have something important to say. When someone shares their own personal journey, the audience tends to pause at whatever they are doing in their life, and listen.

We want our readers to listen. So many times I had teachers assign a paper where we had to share a life event that changed us. To me this assignment was so easy because starting at a young age I had many major events in my life I could write about. However for my sister, she hated these assignments because she felt like she never had any life events to write about and that she wasn’t important. But some of her best pieces of writing she has done is when she picked a small moment in her life and wrote about what happened and how it influenced her. From these assignments she learned that she is important, that she does have life events to share, and that readers want to hear her voice and her story. We are all important. We need to be reminded that our life is important because it is shaping us into the person that we are today.

Don’t Force the Kiss- Brinley Miller

Don’t Force the Kiss



Sometimes in the writing process you try so hard to make a topic work, that all the effort you put in would seem a waste if you don’t use what you’ve written. I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t force the kiss.

When I met Josh Miller, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him (spoiler alert – he ends up becoming my husband). But, I was sure about one thing – he was everything I’d ever dreamed of. But after a really bad relationship recently ending, and having my heart broken – I wasn’t quite ready to be swept off my feet. I let him chase me for a few months, which resulted in Josh being unsure of how I felt about him. I was clear about being interested, but at some point I realized I was falling in love with him, and I really wanted him to kiss me.

Fast forward a few weeks – he still hadn’t kissed me! I was so bummed.

I planned out an entire scheme of how I could make the perfect moment for him to kiss me. We were sitting on a hill in the mountains, overlooking the lights of the city below. Well, I started panicking in the moment and then after we had been sitting there for a while I just said – “are you going to kiss me or what??” He laughed, leaned in, and kissed me. So yeah, it wasn’t the most romantic thing in the world, but I got what I wanted. But did I?

Patience would have been a story-saver here, people. Who wants to tell a first kiss story about how they basically planned the whole thing and made sure it happened? Cue Brinley – type A girl, and flaming red personality who desires power and doing things her way. Nice to meet ya, folks.

Don’t force the kiss. When you’re writing, let the ideas flow – don’t force them into order and hope that they sound good. Appreciate the uncertainty. It may lead you to a great idea that was just cultivating in the other spaces of your mind – waiting to be illuminated.

When you don’t force the kiss – like I did the next time Josh kissed me (why is it also nerve-wracking to kiss the second time after your first kiss, I’ll never know) it was perfect. In its place and effortless.

When you don’t force the kiss, your writing can be extraordinary. It will be real, natural and exactly what the audience needs to hear. Let your topic come to you – if something isn’t working out, take a step back. Chat with a friend to cultivate ideas, read someone else’s writing for some mentoring inspiration, go on a walk and just observe the things around you. With patience, the right topic or path to write will come to you.