Sunday, December 28, 2014

Your Year in Review

In the previous post, I talked about doing a blog party, based on the wonderful questions found HERE. There are fifty questions and I'm going to try keeping it concise and to the point. Let's start!


Your 2014

1.What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
>>Got into med school :D

2.If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?
>> Exciting, tough and new

3.What new things did you discover about yourself?
>> I talk a lot when I'm nervous.

4.What single achievement are you most proud of?
>> Got into med school xD

5.What was the best news you received?
>> When I got into med school :D

6.What was your favourite place that you visited in 2014?
>> Probably Nowshera, where we stopped on our (canceled) trip to Chitral.

7.Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?
>> Perseverance.

8.Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
>> My dad.

9.Which new skills did you learn?
>> Embroidering letters? idk.

10.What, or who, are you most thankful for?
>> Everybody xD but of course, all thanks go to Allah.

11.If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?
>> One of those feel good movies like "Akeelah and the Bee" or something xD

12.What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?
>> It's okay to not be okay.

13.Which mental block(s) did you overcome?
>> I didn't over come anything. I just go to sleep to totally avoid it.

14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?
>> Hmm... Lilly, Lalie, Sam, Ilene and Maheen.

15.What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
>> Interviews.

16.How did your relationship to your family evolve?
>> Apparently I'm a big girl now.

17.What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?
>> Can we talk about how awesome Attack on Titan is.

18.What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?
>> I'm not usually on the receiving ends of compliments.

19.What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
>>Drinking coffee xD

20.What cool things did you create this year?
>> I made my awesome planner :D

21.What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?
>> Probably anxiety o.o

22.Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
>> Interviews. Never gave them before.

23.What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?
>> Definitely SIST'13

24.What major goal did you lay the foundations for?
>> Getting into med school? (I sound really obsessed with med school o.o)

25.Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?
>> Getting into med school xD I mean, I knew I'd get in but I kept having second thoughts about myself and my abilities.

26.What experience would you love to do all over again?
>> Cut my hair xD It was fun.

27.What was the best gift you received?
>> My iPhone o.o

28.How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
>> I'm a big girl now :D

29.What was the biggest problem you solved?
>> I'm not sure...

30.What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
>> There have been lots of funny moments with my friends. I can't remember all of them so I can't really say xD

31.What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
>> My latest stationary haul xD

32.What one thing would you do differently and why?
>>Maybe if I had studied FSc better I could've gotten into a government college.

33.What do you deserve a pat on the back for?
>>Getting into med school xD

34.What activities made you lose track of time?
>> Facebook, twitter, DOTA 2, and stuff.

35.What did you think about more than anything else?
>> The future ;-; and whether I could actually be a doctor or not.

36.What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
>> Psychology has been and always will be my favorite subject. (that I didn't get an A on it is a different story)

37.What new habits did you cultivate?
>> Writing in my planner and blogging regularly.

38.What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could?
>> STUDEEHH AND DONT WORREEH ABOUT IT

39.Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?
>> Nope, I'm quite stubborn.

40.What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?
>> Difficult question- I'm not sure.

Your 2015

41.What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?
>> Better than Before.

42.What do you want to see, discover, explore?
>> I'd like to see the operating theater in action and stuff o.o

43.Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?
>> I'd like to get to know my class better.

44.What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
>> Time juggling.

45.Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?
>> My creativity.

46.What do you want your everyday life to be like?
>> I want to have a goal every day and work and be super productive and look back at the end of the day and say "wow this was worth it"

47.Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
>> My habits of sleeping late and waking up late need to be eXtErMiNaTeD *dalek voice*.

48.What do you want to achieve career-wise?
>> Pass my first year professional exams ;-;

49.How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
>> Probably as that jump start to the world of medicine.

50.What is your number one goal for 2015?
>> Emerge out a better person in as many aspects as possible.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Whew! That was pretty long! If you joined this blog tag, make sure you share your post on twitter! Hashtag it as #YourYearInReview so I can retweet and read your posts :D 

*Credits to the fifty questions goes to into-mind.com and the link to the post is here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Flash Back- 2014

I'm sure most of you have heard about the recent terrorist attack that was carried out in Peshawar, Pakistan. I'm not going to go into details, but it's just that awareness is necessary. Speaking from personal experience, spending time on the internet makes you a feel a little alienated from the rest of the world and little information tidbits help keep you updated about what's going on. (Then again, if you follow me on twitter, you probably got spammed by tweets hash tagged #PeshawarAttack)

Since you decided to spend five minutes of your time to read this post, why don't you add a little prayer too- for all the departed souls, for their heart broken parents, for families ripped apart and for people who just desire peace.

Thanks. It means a lot.

Now on to the actual thing. 2015 is about six days away and I figured it was a good idea to revise the resolutions I had for this year before moving on to next year. Here's a blogpost I wrote on 31st December, 2013.

Now here's what I've accomplished so far out of this list.

But no, let's talk about the good stuff that's happened!

I did pass my A Levels with flying colors!


I did get into med school!

I did blog regularly and got a lot of readers!

I did make a couple of new friends- off and online!

I have stopped using my phone as a gaming device! (somewhat)

I AM sitting and relaxing after finally getting into med school!


I think that makes 2014 a pretty successful year, don't you think? How's has your year been? I'm going to be doing another post about this with Neal Kind, basing the content on THIS POST. Care to join the blog party?

*The blog screenshots are from my old blog "the emo wolverine writes" and you won't find those posts anywhere.
*The picture spam is from my Instagram.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My Personal Planner: Part One

The weekend is finally here! It feels like I've been going to med school for years now! It was so satisfying getting up out of bed around ten o'clock instead of six! And even better- I have both, Saturday and Sunday off! Yay!

So I'm doing a post on the planner I've made for myself for this academic year. I looked up a couple of planner diys on Pinterest and tumblr and that's how I concluded to make my own planner. I also used my old school planner as a reference to see how I was comfortable with doing my thing. Remember, the basic point of a planner is not to look pretty, but to be useful and help organize yourself!


(My planner is still under construction but I'll be showing you the major adjustments I've done)


This is a planner notebook I bought a bookfair for about roughly Rs.250 (which converts to about USD $2.50). The paper quality looks good, but I can't use gel pens (Signo Uniball) or my Schneider highlighters or my colored Dollar Pointers. What I CAN use are dry ink pens and my Tip Top highlighters (which appears to be a Japanese product).
The planner is a production of Shen Shi and they've given their site address (www.wzshenshi.com) which doesn't exist? Or maybe it's a website that can only be accessed from specific countries or domains. 
The planner is in A5 size with 105 sheets and is 9mm ruled.
What I liked about this planner was the handy size, the double spiral spine and the colored dividers.
There are five sections and I've taken the first section aside for personal notes etc.
Here's a page out of the first section. This is a list of books I am supposed to buy for my first year and second year medical education. I've placed check boxed next to books that have been strongly recommended by senior students. When I've bought a book, I strike the title out and add a tick on the check box if necessary.

The other four sections are reserved for the actual planner bulk. The first page after the divider is taken up by a useful tumblr post I wrote down and taped on.
(I have something for tape- it makes such a nice border, plus I found out you can write on the tape with permanent marker- or even just the average dry ink pen! Also doesn't make the paper soggy- like glue. yuck)

"Overcome Your Laziness in Four Steps"
The key to doing this is motivation + understanding whether running towards or running away will help you achieve what you want to achieve.
Writing a daily plan to organize yourself can help too.
Ask yourself the following questions each and every day (especially when battling procrastination)
(1) What am I trying to avoid? Consequences?
(2) What am I actually aiming for? Realize what you need to do to get there.
(3) What's the next step I can take? Just one small easy step.
(4) Repeat.
-tumblr
Here's what comes after the quote- the monthly calender.
Why have I started from December? It's because my planner isn't year oriented, but academic oriented. My first day of med school started on the 8th of December- so that's why the planner starts from December.
I like coloring, so I've got a small packet of color pencils close by. On important days or long term events, I've decided to color blocks on the monthly calender and then color on the related information I've written on the weekly bit of the planner! 
Need an example?
See that that one week that has the the top blocks colored with blue? On the last column (reserved for notes) the blue color is explained to represent "Zero Week".
What is Zero Week?
Zero Week was basically an event organized by our seniors which has one event happening every day. I don't know if you can see it on the above image, but on Monday, I've used the same blue color pencil to highlight "Bakesale", for Wednesday it was "Sports", for Thursday it was "Movie Night" and for Friday, it was "Scavenger Hunt".
This is what my weekly planner looks like. There's going to be five such pages until the next Monthly page for January.
I realized drawing that drawing the calender right on the pages wasn't a good idea- the next monthly pages have all been drawn blank pages and taped on,
Here's an example! I drew a calender format and had it photocopied. The format was just a bunch of lines with no writing at all, so I could do all the months separately. I wrote the month, filled in the dates and taped it on the pages. Oh, and here's where I discovered the bit about writing on tape with permanent marker :D It makes great borders!
Here's what I did at the end. I got some grid pages and cut them down to size and then punched holes in them according to the spiral cuts needed. After that, I slipped the grid pages into the spiral spine at the end of the notebook.
The purpose of these grid pages is to record my money spending. I have the page divided into two and three columns on each side. The columns are labelled "Date", "Balance" and "Extra Info" where Balance means whether I got money or spent  money and Extra Info reveals why I received or spent money.
*~*~*~*~*
So here's how I've been using my planner so far! It's basically a mix up between the weekly planner format and the bullet journal. I've been using this style for the last year and it's worked great for me- especially when studying for finals. I divide my studying a month before and lay out daily goals, dividing the syllabus revision into small chunks I can easily cover. It helps reduce the stress and anxiety when I flip through the pages and see how I've already got everything organized and under control!

I hope this post was interesting and inspired you in some sort of way ^^. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Start Begins

Or The Beginning Starts- take it whichever way you'd like- I think both sound pretty much the same.

This is the first official post of the Lunar Descent. Everything before this were archived posts that I've shifted over from the emo wolverine writes (old book reviews and that one blog series I wrote from the depths of my heart and soul).

So who am I and what exactly am I trying to accomplish here? (I wrote a whole About page but hey, repetition is catchy) Basically, I'm here to tell you guys how my studying as a future doctor is going at Shifa College of Medicine. I find accounts like these really fascinating and since I'd be experiencing it first hand, what better than to pass it on to other people who would love to experience it too?

I'll describe myself more fully later on.



Med school newbies are inducted into the medical field by what is called a "White Coat Ceremony". Let me be brutally honest here- I was expecting much more out of the "Orientation and White Coat Ceremony" that was held on the Sunday of this week. I mean, I can't explain it, but I thought it would be... a bit more pompous and official looking. Nevertheless it was pretty nice. It started with a speech by some teachers and faculty followed by the students being asked to stand up and wear the coats before repeating the oath of medical ethics after the teacher. There was a group photo taken of the first years- about 100 in total.

First day was on Monday.

So far, it's going pretty good. A little boring- since everyone is talking about how they're going to teach us, the teaching methodology, the module system, the this, the that. Basically, the module system is where instead of reading things in order from the book separately, we're going to do an entire system and study it from the biochemistry/anatomy/physiology point of view together. That way, everything you read is directly linked to each other and that makes studying it either. Apart from that, everything is going to be clinically oriented with problem based learning- the objective of all your learning is to apply it on a patient so they're going to try inculcating that right from the beginning.

Last, but not least, we're supposed to be doing research in these five years. They'll have this start right from first year and by the time we have an MBBS degree, we are supposed to have a research article published in a medical journal (how cool is that). I'm a little excited about this bit!

The college also has five societies operating. I can't remember their names exactly, but one is a Student Society, one deals with Blood Donation, the other is Social Welfare, there's one for Debating and then comes Sports. They all sound really nice- I've already registered for the social welfare society. I don't think I'll be able to donate blood though (you have to be 50kg for that and I don't think I come near that yet- I am not exaggerating) and debating/sports isn't exactly my thing.

We even had a tour of the campus and the hospital. We didn't get to see all of the hospital, but we definitely covered most of the college- including the museums and the skill labs which have their real stuff put on display- like embryos and fetuses and this adult size leg and arms and brains and all that kind of stuff. They look REALLY realistic- in the glass jars with the jelly/water- so I'm pretty sure they're real. Oh, and there was this big steel door in the lab and I think it was the dead body storage because there was a log outside for recording temperature (around 10 degrees Centigrade) and it was labelled something like "Morticiary". (Apparently that's not a word...? Maybe I read it wrong).

Oh- and guess what? We don't get to dissect dead people. One of the teachers explained that it's been proven that dissecting dead bodies is absolutely useless and doesn't aid you at all in learning. So that's why, we don't get to do that. You can imagine how upset the students got.

Anyway, things are going pretty smoothly. There's supposed to be a book fair going on so we can buy the things we need. I can't wait to actually start studying- even though people are like "it's going to be real tough!" but hey, I've been ready for this for SIX WHOLE MONTHS.

So this was today's rambling. Here are some common questions I was asked so far.

Are you having fun?
Well, not really because we're just listening to lectures that are 2 hours long but could just as easily be cut down to 30 minutes if you just want to hit the nail on the head. Oh, and the lecturers are like "I have an hour to kill, so let's talk about this now!"

Did you make any friends?
Not exactly- there's just too many people and it's so loud and I can't hear what the other person is saying- plus there's not exactly any place to hang out in the premises. You're expected to stand most of the time. Since the medical students have their breaks at the same time, there's a lot of rush and crowding. It doesn't help that I'm a little anti-social and can't make myself heard (or even be able to hear anyone in that noise).

How are your classes going?
Boring so far. Haven't done anything remotely exciting yet.

And this is a wrap up of the "Beginning of the Start". Apparently, this week is just going to be nice and easy since it's the first week. Our seniors have been organizing events for us too- like a bakesale, movie night, sports day and scavenger hunt. Let's see how the rest of the week goes...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Ideal Blogger (#3) Common Courtesy

I'll admit, this is a pretty delayed post, but I have finally written it and thus conclude the end of this blogging trilogy *-* I hope this helps bloggers out there a bit or inspires them. Here's a post I read this week by Kat @ (Almost) Completely Mad which talks about getting readers too!


Let's talk about what exactly courtesy is. Courtesy means excellence of manners or social courtesy. So we're not going to talk about "nice things to do" but "extra super duper nice things to do" cause we're going to aim for the absolute best!

Your post should be in a font that is large and clear. Don't use one of those fancy chic fonts that are great for titles but horrible for the actual post. It makes it hard for your readers to get through and will probably scare them off. Additionally, your font color should contrast to your background. Black text on white backgrounds is a good idea and pretty popular- that doesn't mean you can't deviate! Go ahead, pick out something totally new but make sure you check if it's easy on the eyes.

Everyone need to blog-promote every now and then. Most do it through comment spam. You'll find that same comment stamped on several inter-related blogs with absolutely no mention of the post or blogger in question who they are addressing. If you want to blog-promote through comments, READ the post you decided to leave a stamp on and add a personal line or two. Make people who see your comment feel like you're easy to approach and human, instead of a spam bot.

Comments you write on other people's blogs should be free of profanity. Just because you like being profane doesn't mean you can go spew whatever you want on someone else's corner of the internet! That's wrong and gives off a horrible impression. So remember, no profanity! Also, if you disagree with something written in the post, be polite about it! In fact, what's stopping you from writing a response post? That way, you could share your views more productively than in a comment- and move a potential war zone out of someone else's blog!

When you give out social media, for example your email, twitter, facebook or instagram, you should actually check it and look out for your followers. There's nothing readers like better than the occasional tweet or mention on social media from their favorite bloggers. Here's your chance to turn follows into friendships!

Teenage bloggers love adding music players to their blogs. It makes the blog look professional and personal at the same time. However, for link-clicked reader, it might be a turn off to suddenly have loud music playing from your blog window. Most people take the quick route and shut down the tab so stop the music- and that's how you've lost a potential reader. So what can you do? You could either put the music on an extremely low volume (like soft background music), giving your readers the option of turning it up themselves, or stop the music entirely and hope your readers think about turning it on themselves. I suggest the former.

When you hand out people link awards, there's quite a possibility that your followers decide not to read that post. Awards aren't that fun to read when all you're doing is answering random questions (unless you add lots of cool gifs and pictures, then your awards are super awesome) so if you tag people, they might not even know about it. Solution? Leave a comment on your nominees' blogs telling them about what you've done!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Ideal Blogger (#2) Content and Consistency

Before I start off with this, I thought I'd let you guys know that I added one last section to the previous post titled "Utilize Social Media". Click here for the previous part.

Okay, let's get started (:


First off- content. This is what people judge your blog by. And this is what you should ask yourself when you open up your blog in your browser tab. "Are my blog posts actually interesting? Have I written these posts sincerely enough to catch the eye of someone who doesn't know me and probably has different interests? Is there something in the posts that a general majority should be able to relate to?"

If you're writing a personal blog, ask yourself these questons. "When I document these feelings and events, does this help me in any sort of way? Will I be able to refer back to my blog, like a diary, for these memories? Will I be able to look back at my blog to see how much has changed? Have I written sincerely enough for other people to see what my life looks like?"

The first point I'm trying to make is not about content- not yet. It's about the sincerity and depth of your writing. You can write about a circus (which is really exciting in real life) but if you don't put your heart into your words, the event will seem bland and boring on your blog- no matter how many paragraphs and lines you type away. You could write about a stroll in your neighborhood (which could be something extremely normal) but if you decide to write it sincerely and focus on the best, it can turn out to be something that your followers found worth reading.

"It is an old and true maxim that "a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall"
 So remember- you must write sincerely, whether you write for yourself or for your followers or for both. Give yourself time to do this. It's better to write one post with your heart than to write ten with your fingers. Trust me, quality over quantity.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

What are blogs usually about? If you look through most of your blogroll/blogfeed, you'll see that the majority of blogs that teenagers follow are written by teenagers. What does this tell you? It tells you that the target audience is related to blog content. You can't write a blog about your personal life and expect business/fashion blogs to follow you because your blog just isn't their thing. What you have to do is realize what your target audience is.

"... I happened to be excited about boats and the visitor discussed the subject in a way that seemed to me particularly interesting. After he left, I spoke of him with enthusiasm..... My aunt informed me he was a New York lawyer; that he cared nothing whatsoever about boats.... "But why then did he talk all the time about boats?... "Because he is a gentleman. He saw you were interested in boats and he talked about the things he knew would interest and please you. He made himself agreeable""
Fortunately, you, as a blogger, do not have to bend your back so far as to start blogging about something that doesn't even interest you (do you know what this means? This means that teenagers are interested in teenagers. Whatever you write will appeal to 70% of teenage bloggers). But what you do need to realize is that there are lots of teen bloggers out there and that most of your interests and blog content will overlap. Teenagers- especially those with personal blogs like this one- will write about a variety of subjects which would include

  • School related subjects, for example rants/studyblrs/stationary/note-taking
  • Relationships, whether it's about your parents, your siblings, your friends, your relatives, your classmates, your teachers
  • Writing, for example poetry, short stories, book reviews, fandom reviews, other rants, discussions, arguments, informative articles
  • Photography, which is a really popular subject among a great majority of teenage blogs and should be classified as separate from art.
  • Art, whether it's drawing, sculpting, painting, singing, designing, fashion
It's not so hard writing on a personal blog (a category which quite a few bloggers are in and it is these bloggers I'm focusing on). But what you need to do is to present the same information in a unique kind of way. You need to make your blog creative so it stands out from the rest of the blogging world. You need to create your own niche.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The next most important thing about content after your subject is how you present it, also known as, how creative you are with your posts. Standard posts tend to involve images or gifs, but we want your post to burst with something special! How can we achieve that?

For starters, check out tumblr for images. This is a website which is overflowing with unique ideas and text posts. You know those famous "teenager posts" and "that's so relateable posts" that are a hit on Facebook? Those all came from tumblr. Imagine what else you could find there. Literally everything, including fandom related stuff. One of my favorite personal posts was created from tumblr's vast data base of images and that post quickly made it on the "Most Popular Post" widget on the sidebar. You can check it out here.

Since you're aiming at a teenage audience, ideas like that will most probably make itself a hit.

Creativity also includes font, paragraphing and divisions. Remember, you need your blog to be easy on the eyes. There are some fonts available on blogger that really make reading a chore. I know, because I used to use a really difficult font on my blog and I didn't even know it was so hard to read because I never looked at my blog properly. Lesson learnt? Visit your blog as a reader regularly and try to understand how it looks to a visitor.

Next is paragraphing. Split your writing into proper paragraphs because, let's be honest, no one wants to read a textbook styled essay. Even if you ARE writing an essay on your blog, paragraph each point, each example separately. Your readers are not your academic examiners. They are not under a contract to read each and every word. If you thrust too much in one go, chances are you're losing a reader.

Don't forget to divide the post. There's a feature in blog writing where you can write in a variety of modes, being Heading, Sub Heading, Minor Heading and Normal. Utilize these features! Apart from these, you can also use bullet points to categorize facts and important information- or just outline the entire post at the start or at the end. It's little things like these that make your posts reader friendly.

These were some simple ways to make your posts creative. Here are some more complex ideas.
  • Use your own photographs to make gifs
  • Create text graphics
  • Use different colors and highlights
  • Present information on images (also called infographics)
  • Add your own drawings (traditional or digital) to illustrate your post
*~*~*~*~*~*~*

You could have a beautiful blog with fantastic posts, but what's the point of following you if the last post you made was in 2012? I have seen SO MANY amazing and fantastic blogs that have been inactive for years, and it just literally kills me. It's like finding a dead tree- tall and splendid, but it's not going to grow even one more inch. Most of these blogs have final posts like "I find blogging a chore now" or "blogging isn't fun anymore" or "I'm on hiatus", giving me the impression that if blogging becomes worrisome, a blogger is inclined to simply dump the project and leave.

Now, I'm not exactly one to talk. I HAVE been blogging 2011, but I actually started and stuck to this blog since 2013. Only one and a half year. I have yet to come across a period where blogging is something I want to drop and run away from- but I DO occasionally have writers block. Here's how I combat these periods.

Create a Blogging Notebook
That's right! It won't hurt to dedicate a notebook to your blog, would it? In fact, it would actually be super helpful! I've dedicated a notebook of mine to this blog and so far, it has really benefited me. 
I've tried re-sizing this to fit in the post area but it's not working -__- 
And remember- it's for rough ideas. Throw everything in there. I even stuff in my awards here since I realized spacing them out evenly is a better idea then doing the awards as soon as they come. Write down all the memes, all the contests, all the blog trends happening- even if you have too much on your plate already- because when you're out of ideas, this is what will keep your blog afloat.

But what if you're completely blank and have no idea about what to blog about? You need to sit down and give yourself time to think about it. Brilliant ideas don't come when they're wanted- they just arrive unexpectedly and that's just their nature. There's nothing much you can do about it- but here's what you CAN do to get the process started.
  • Browse Pinterest. Here's a site that will have loads of ideas, quotes, books, projects, fashion- everything available. Just sift through all the information and find something you really like- whether it's a tutorial or a quote. Post it on your blog along with your thoughts about it- turn it into a writing exercise. (If it's a tutorial that's caught your eye, DO IT and post your results on your blog).
  • Read a book from your To Be Read pile and write a book report on it! Everybody loves book reports!
  • Browse through other interesting blogs and see if something inspires you to write your own post! There are lots of writing blogs out there that gather quite the resources for their readers. A good example of such a blog is "A Splash of Ink" by Sunny Smith.
*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Are you on a writing roll? Is creativity flowing out from your fingertips onto the keyboard? Let me advise you- don't post all at once. Pace yourself. You cannot write ten posts in one week and then be absolutely blank the next. Plan out your schedule- it's okay to write everything down and prepare a blogpost, but you won't gather readers effectively if you post everything within a short span of time. Use the "Schedule" option on the side of the page when you write your blogpost. It's bursts of creativity like this that will help cover up your blog when you're having a writer's block.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Everything highlighted in pink are excerpts from the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

Part Three of this post trilogy will be Common Courtesy.

Did you find anything lacking or any new point that could be added? It would be my pleasure to add your insights and examples to this post (I'll credit you, of course).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

BookShelf: Looking For Alaska



10518900Miles "Pudge" Halter's whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the "Great Perhaps" (François Rabelais, poet) even more. He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

~Taken from Goodreads

I've read the Fault In Our Stars and I found it pretty unique (but not as awesome or tear jerking as everyone was hyping about) so I decided to try out another book by John Green. Let me just say that I have never been to university (or college or whatever it is called) or lived alone, away from my parents- and the book was describing everything in so much amazing detail so I was obviously hooked (it was like a Harry Potter fan reading a fanfic about a normal student at Hogwarts while Harry does his awesome stuff etc xD for me anyway). Everything was described- the euphoria of a "Great Perhaps" and leaving home, making new friends, studying, ragging (it's called pranking there, apparently), getting into trouble, trying not to get into trouble and I just soaked up the details with shiny sparkly eyes LOL

But okay, back to the point. The book dealt with the death of a close friend and how such an event could be so sudden and unpredictable and have such long lasting effects. I found some of the characters hard to imagine (Alaska was one of these people. She was just... too eccentric that she seemed more like a cardboard character where you just lump everything labelled "crazy" with her but she was still cool I guess).

Anyway, I rather enjoyed reading this book (college sounds so exciting!!) and would most certainly recommend it to anyone who has read TFIOS and liked it. But the thing is, the characters are just as unrealistic as they were in TFIOS (cough) Augustus Waters (cough). It's great for light reading though- don't dwell too much on what's going on and go with the flow :D

I give this book a rating of 2.5/5 and would most likely never read this again. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Ideal Blogger (#1) Follow and Feedback

I've had a lot of spare time on my hands and I had been spending it on browsing fresh blogs, leaving comments and adding a blog or two to my personal follow list. I think I've seen a lot of blogs that seemed to be missing a spark or so and after reading "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie, I have understood what it means to be an ideal blogger. 

I'm not saying my blog is ideal, but that we could all work together to the goal of being so with the blogging epiphany I had. I'd like to share my ideas and opinions with you and it would be fantastic if you guys shared something back. So, without further ado, I present to you my blog post trilogy.


Following and receiving feedback is something you cannot achieve without your readers. If you want more comments and more followers, you need your readers to do it for you. So here's the question.

How can you make your readers do what you want them to do?

"The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want.
What do you want?" 
So what do most bloggers want? Let's make a list.

--> increased traffic on their blog
--> comments on their posts
--> new followers
--> a feeling of importance or pride for their blog and their writing.

Let's face it, people are usually thinking about themselves whenever they do something. When bloggers design their pages, they think along the lines of "this will make my blog beautiful" - "This will increase my traffic" - "This will make me look better" instead of thinking along the lines of "this will make navigation for my readers easier" - "this will help readers find something they want to read" - "this will keep my readers interested".

There is a subtle difference between the two streams of thought. One focuses on what you want, the other focuses on what your readers want- and I think we all know how important attitude is!

"If there is any one secret of success," said Henry Ford, "it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own"
 If you want someone to comment on or follow your blog, why should they do so? Would talking about how feedback makes me happy or how feedback makes my day better or how much love feed back make you want to do it? No it doesn't! Think about it this way.

Reader: Hmm, this blog is nice, I suppose. The posts are average but it has over 50 followers. Perhaps I should leave a comment with my blog linked in it.
Blogger: Please leave a comment! I love comments! They make me happy!
Reader: I know they make you happy- heck they'd make anyone happy! The question is, will you actually look at what I had to say and will you come to my blog and see what I write about too?
Blogger: I have 200 followers! I'm too busy to comment back- did you see the 160 comments on my last post- let alone follow a noob blog like yours that only has 10 follows! I have better things to do!
Reader: Then why should I bother commenting on your post or follow your blog?
Blogger: To make me happy of course!

This is an imaginary conversation a reader has with a blogger who "loves feedback" but hardly ever gives anything in return.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Trying to appreciate your readers before they comment is not a good idea and is fairly annoying if that's your tactic for garnering more comments. What you need to do is offer your readers and incentive to comment and later on, follow. Here are some example for the text that appears before the comment form

Bad: I love comments!
Good: I reply to each and every comment!
Bad: Please share your thoughts on what I wrote!
Good: Please leave a link to your blog so I can comment back!

All this discussion was for new bloggers and new traffic. But how can you get your current followers to engage with you on their blog? Here's a list!

#Give Them Honest Feedback

No, this doesn't mean you point out their errors or start arguing with them. It means you take the best of their post and trying making the blogger feel important. You must be
"...hearty in their appreciation and lavish in their praise..."
No flattery! Sit down and read the post! Think along the following lines.

"What part of this post stood out? What part did I find interesting? How would I describe this post? Did it inspire me in any sort of way? Did it amuse me? Did it remind me of something I used to do myself? Would I like to read something similar again?"

Did anything positive come to your mind? Good! Write it down in the comment section.

#Tag Them in Awards

Here's your chance to talk about the things you love and answer questions made just for you and  keep your readers engaged- because they're the ones who are going to be nominated! Make sure you correctly mention their names, their blog's name and link it properly. It also wouldn't hurt to write a couple of sentences about each nominee- maybe about why you nominated them, what kind of blogger they are or just a heartfelt compliment. Remember, we are aiming for our readers to feel important. Your words should make them realize that you read everything they say and that you are genuinely interested in what their response to your tag/award would be.

#Add Their Blog to Your Blog

There are lots of ways you could do this. Here are three such ways.
  • Swap buttons with your readers
  • Place their blog on the blogfeed widget that can be put on your sidebar
  • Mention their names and blogs on a post that was inspired by something they wrote.

#Utilize Social Media

Do you have links to your twitter/facebook/tumblr/other media? Are you giving out your blog email for contacting? Well and good- but remember, you need to CHECK up on those links too! There WILL be occasional bloggers who tweet to you or decide to email to you (they will be uncommon, or even rare, but they exist. Trust me, I'm one of those random people) but what I've noticed is that once a social media profile is set up for a blog, it is usually abandoned or simply inactive. But- there are some brilliant bloggers out there who are on social media and who actually take the time to reply to you.

One of my favorite bloggers, Riley Sinclair tweets every now and then and I tweet back to her. She's super nice and makes me feel really special when she thanks me for my responses to her updates. Learn from the pro bloggers who make YOU feel worth it. Remember, blogging is a social platform. You're not getting a fan-following on your blog- you're making a circle of friends!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Let's sum up what we're going to try to aim for from today onwards.

*A change of attitude- focusing on what your readers want instead of what you want and find something that satisfies both parties.

*Offer your reader incentives to comment/follow

*Make your readers feel important as an individual blogger.

*Be genuinely interested in your readers and encourage them to talk about their opinions.

 *~*~*~*~*~*~*

Everything highlighted in pink are excerpts from the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.

Part Two of this post trilogy will be Content and Consistency.

Did you find anything lacking or any new point that could be added? It would be my pleasure to add your insights and examples to this post (I'll credit you, of course).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

BookShelf" Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore



13538873The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything—instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele’s behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore’s secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.

~Taken from Goodreads

Secret book clubs with an awesome name and ultra cool hide-outs and exclusive membership and activities bordering rituals- how awesome is that?! Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is definitely an interesting tale of book lovers, book societies and books! But that's not all that is discussed. A more pressing issue of ebooks vs physical books is also shown along with the part played by mega corporations which ultimately lead to the decline of the culture of reading and buying books.

Why did I like Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore? I think it's because the writer has taken our world and the world of books and has created a world in between -a world where you can just barely see all the others coinciding and overlapping each other. I just loved the feeling this book gave me- it was inspiring because (this might sound very weird) after reading a book about books, I found myself loving books even more and totally motivated to read tons more! The idea of writing a codex was intriguing and I found myself toying with the idea and concept that the writer had presented.

All in all, this book was really good- not as exciting as you'd think it is, but still satisfying and overall, extremely realistic- a quality not many fictional books seem to be able to pull off *cough*.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Attempting the MCAT

The MCAT examination is a test conducted by the University of Health Sciences, Lahore, abbreviated to UHS. If you want to enter into a government run medical college, you MUST give this test which is held years in August-September. In preparation for this test, many academies spring up with summer MCAT courses where they revise the syllabus given bu UHS. Academies are very popular, with almost 70-100 students in each class at the start of the course.

I personally attended the MCAT session of KIPS academy, a chain school with a branch in G-10 Islamabad and another branch in Rawalpindi while it's roots lie in Lahore.

Despite having tests daily, followed by Full Length Papers (FLPs) afterwards, KIPS has failed to actually inculcate the ability to clear the examination efficiently in students. KIPS focuses more on completing and revising the syllabus, as well as introducing novel questions- as though preparing the students to be able to solve the entire paper. Alongside this, they take (in my opinion) a very extreme approach to the negative grading aspect of the test, by constantly stating "if you don't know the answer, leave it" (nahi ata, chor do) without specifying the maximum number of question you should be allowed to leave.

Perhaps they genuinely think they are equipping their students with enough to solve at least 90% of the paper, thus making guessing unnecessary. However, not all students are such super geniuses (myself included) and most of us are probably only able to correctly solve 50% of the paper, the remaining paper consisting of
  • questions answered incorrectly
  • questions whose answers may be ambiguous or may have two answers that appear correct
  • questions related to topics the student has not studied (something common for A Level students) and thus cannot even produce a probable answer
For all these cases, which I assure you is a majority, the advice I got from KIPS is absolutely stupid and in the heat and pressure of the examination, will be the only reason for your downfall.

So what's the solution? What's actually helpful?

Solve the MCAT in the exact same way that the SAT is solved. Make educated guesses. Solve at least 90% of the paper, don't leave more than fifteen questions blank under any circumstances. Just go with your gut feeling in questions which have two options that look correct to you- chances of success are 50%.

Why adopt the SAT style of solving the MCAT? First of all, the MCAT has much more lenient marking than SAT. Work it out. The SAT scores involve +1 for correct answers and -0.25 for incorrect answers. Convert it to the MCAT scoring (multiply by 5) and you get +5 for correct answers and -1.25 for incorrect answers. What does that mean? The SAT cuts 0.25 marks more than the MCAT, and educated guessing is actually encouraged in SAT- the complete anti-thesis of the fear that MCAT students are given regarding their examination! (The pros of educated guessing are given in more SAT1 books, for example Barron's)

Is this not unbelievable? The negative marking is actually a good thing- you could guess at six questions and if you get only one right, your balance will be at zero! So imagine how many more marks you could score if you made rational and logical guesses- giving you a success chance of 50%!

To sum up, the illogical approach to negative marking taken by academies should be revised. The fear that these approaches breed in students is a major cause of the downfall of otherwise hard-working and capable students who have been cheated of a chance of studying in a medical program.

Tags- MCAT, KIPS Academy Review, How to attempt the MCAT, The Cons of KIPS

Sunday, August 10, 2014

BookShelf: The Girl With All The Gifts



The Girl with All the GiftsEvery morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

~Taken from Goodreads


This was a surprisingly depressing story- then again zombie apocalypses probably would be depressing, but one factor that added to the overall depression was the fact that children make up more of the story. I don't know about you guys but when a horror movie involves children, as opposed to teenagers and adults, things just seem a lot more scarier and that must be because children are pure and innocent and usually have to be protected, so it just hits us harder when they are the ones who are terrified and abused, especially since it's usually never their fault in the first place.

I just went of-topic didn't I? Anyway this story involves Melanie, a young girl who appears normal at the start of the book- although quite precocious- but when further details are given you realize -with that twinge of pain- that she is not normal. She is, in fact, a sort of hybrid zombie -called hungries- who happens to be much more high functioning than the usual hungries folk found beyond the security fences. Lots of children like Melanie are locked up in a compound where they are given education to determine the extent of their brain function before they are taken away for what is called "the greater good".

This is the first-of-its-kind zombie story I have ever read- I'm sure the plot twist will leave you just as stunned as it left me. The details of how the hungries functioned served to make you hold your breath every time one of them came across the pages. So to sum up, this was s pretty good book. There was a higher than average level of profanity (Like about one word per two pages) but I suppose that's alright, given the situation that the adult characters found themselves in.

CONCLUSION:- Read this book too! :D

Saturday, July 26, 2014

BookShelf: A Tale For the Time Being



15811545
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

~Taken from Goodreads

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
This book was amazing. Let me tell you why.

It's a story about a person reading a story, but you know how you wish you could interact with the characters you're reading about? Or how you wish you could- somehow- reach through the boundaries of ink and paper and let the character know "Hey, I'm reading about you and I think you're amazing, no matter what the secondary characters who bully you say". This is literally what happens in the book and I thought it was magical. (yes, it really was magical). 

(did you see the sarcasm there) (i don't think you did)

The book's narration is divided between third person Ruth and first person Nao. Personally, I didn't really like reading Ruth's parts because although she is a main character, she seemed to pale in contrast to Nao- who really stood out with her diary entries and her musings. I used to read Nao's narrations eagerly and then wait for her to come back again when it was Ruth's turn. Ruth wasn't boring or anything. It's just that you know how you put a glass of air and a glass of water together? The glass of water will take your attention, even though air is much more important. So Ruth was important too (hey, she was the one reading the diary. If she didn't read the diary, we wouldn't have been able to read it either!)

Nao's diary is really the most interesting and unique diary, fictional or otherwise, I have ever come to read so far. She talks about how she used to live in California, how she had to suddenly move back to Japan, how she can't seem to fit in, how she realizes her parents didn't tell her about their situation, how she gets by with bullying and how Jiko, the Buddhist nun, turns her life around and changes her perspective.

I related with a lot of things that Nao talked about, like trying to stay in contact with friends who now live on the other side of the Earth, her "homesickness" for California and her thoughts on forgiving people. Nao really pulls you in to her situation, which seems pretty hopeless but she finds her ways to combat it (with magical help from her reader, Ruth).

The book covers way more than just Nao's every day life and Ruth's reading. It talks about war, how it turns young boys into soldiers, and humanity, how you could still be yourself even when all your "choices" have been taken from you because there is always a choice, no matter how bleak your circumstances might be (lesson learnt from Haruki #1).

I think my favorite parts in the book where when Nao spends her summer with Jiko and when she realizes how her dad (Haruki #2) made a choice, just like Haruki #1 and even though it was a good choice, it left his family in a not-very-good position, how she misjudged him and how proud she feels when she realizes what he actually did. Nao's dad is an amazing person (don't judge him by the first half of the book) and the whole story is just.

Go read it. Put it on your list and READ IT.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

BookShelf: Ready Player One


I've started reading all of the digital books I keep downloading and collecting in my computer. It takes me about a whole day to finish one book if I have the whole day free, otherwise one book can easily take me about three days (while I read it between class, while I relax before studying or a little before bed). Ready Player One is one of those books which I have recently closed and put away (virtually speaking).


I just want to recommend this book to everyone. It's just that good. It has a great background, an amazing plot and brilliant characters. I liked how futuristic the entire set up of the book was, with Earth running out of resources and almost everyone hiding away in a virtual world. The virtual world (called OASIS) itself was also amazing.

The book is a lot like Sword Art Online. The virtual world, a seemingly impossible mission and the friends you make along the way (I hated the last bit about SAO though.........) but there were several aspects that differentiate the two of them. First of all, Ready Player One has better developed characters. Those in Sword Art Online appeared to be stereotypical cardboard characters with no mission in life but to fawn over Kirito (lame).

Secondly, Ready Player One had a main character who was relatively easier to relate to. No, Wade wasn't a super gamer at OASIS right from the start. He was stuck at the beginner island for most of his online life until he started solving the puzzles. Kirito, on the other hand, was a champion player right from that start since he was a beta tester but we didn't get to see him work his way up.

Thirdly, the female characters. Art3mis and Asuna are alike when you consider their overall intelligence and ability to battle. I think that's where the similarities end. Art3mis used her intelligence to try to win the competition by herself and Wade respects her for that (he doesn't try dragging her into his plans and making her play a part in them). Asuna uses hers to help Kirito. Art3mis knew a relationship in a game was futile and cut it off (resulting in character developement from Wade), Asuna didn't (heck, Kirito and Asuna got married in-game).

There's several similarities at the same time. The fact that beating the competition made Wade the game master (ie he was given the same status as Anorak, Halliday's avatar) just like how Kirito was able to access Heathcliff's status (Kayaba Akihiko's rank as game creator) in Alfheim Online. Secondly, the fact that both, Art3mis and Asuna are older than their respective love interests (sorry, had to point that out).

I think my favorite character out of all five them would be Aech and Art3mis. If you read the book, I think you'd know why xD
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