15 Things to Do in Your Gap Year

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Alexis Brown, Unsplash

Hello all! Most of you will know that I finished high school last year, and that I’m currently in the middle of a gap year.

I know that the American and Australian education systems are quite different, so I’m not sure whether it’s customary in America to have a gap year before going onto to pursue a higher education, but in Australia it’s an option that a lot of students, including myself, take.

But to be honest, it was a massive change to go from twelve years of school to doing almost completely nothing. It actually rattled me quite a bit at the beginning of the year, when all my friends were either going back to university or back to school (depending on whether they’re a year older, or a year younger than me. I have quite an age range in my friends).

So today, I’m going to be bringing you a list of fifteen things you can do in your gap year, to keep you from being (too) lazy and to help you learn some new skills before committing to four more years of study!

Learn a language

Languages are so much fun! I know some people aren’t too keen on them, but personally, I think everyone should at least learn the basics of another language. This is an especially helpful (and fun) idea for someone who lives in a very diverse area, where there are a lot of people who come from other cultures.

I’m using this year to learn the basics of Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and I’m seriously considering studying for a Diploma of Auslan, and a Diploma of Auslan Interpreting in a few years time.

Get a job

Jobs are useful and I definitely think its worth getting a part time or casual job, if you haven’t got one already, while you’re having your gap year. Myself, I don’t have a job yet, but I’m keeping an eye out for any available opportunities that would suit me.

Get a dog

I’m biased, but I think dogs are awesome. I got a rescue dog about three months ago, to help combat the unsettling boredom I was feeling and it’s such a great feeling. My dog is a fairly high-maintenance dog who needed (and still needs) a lot of training, and is also quite large and unruly, but there’s so many diverse dogs at shelters that need homes, and I can almost guarantee you’d be able to find one to suit your lifestyle. There’s been so many studies that suggest owning or being in contact with dogs is good for stress, it’s good for your physical health, and so much more! My fitness has increased a lot since I got my dog and getting him has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.

Also, don’t take this tip too literally. If you aren’t into dogs, you could get a cat (my sister recently adopted a rescue cat), or a rabbit, horse, hamster, whatever. If you’ve already got a dog, you could adopt another! Or you could try something new with your dog–there’s plenty of options, such as flyball, obedience training, tracking, or agility.

Get fit

A lot of people want to get fit and I think a year when you have few other commitments is the ideal opportunity to do so. I’ve always been an active person, but even I want to improve my fitness levels. For me, getting a very active dog was the way I did this. On a nice day, we’ll walk 5-7km together, plus playing games and other such things.

For other people, it might be getting a membership to a gym (and using it), starting up a sport, or just committing to doing a certain amount of steps each day. It’s also not a bad time to look over your diet and make adjustments. If you get into the habit of eating healthy and exercising now, it’ll make it much easier when you’re back to study full time.

Pick up an old hobby

Hobbies often fall by the wayside during the stress of school’s last few years, so if you’re still interested, why not pick it up again? I dropped calligraphy several years ago because I just didn’t have enough time for it, however, for Christmas last year, I received a new calligraphy set and decided to start back up again. I don’t get an awful lot of time to practise, but it’s nice and relaxing whenever I need a break from editing.

Try something new

There’s so much to experience in the world! You could try painting, or graphic design, start a blog, pick up poetry…anything you want really. I decided to try new forms of dance this year and I love how it’s broadened my horizons.

Take a class

Taking a class mixes really well with trying something new. As I said, I’ve started tap dancing classes, as well as obedience classes with my dog, and I did a one-off Auslan class. You could try cooking classes, singing lessons, dance lessons, or a language class! These sorts of things are great to keep you occupied for the rest of the year.

Travel

Arguably, this is one of the best times to travel. I personally haven’t done any travelling yet, but I would really love to have enough money to do so 😀

Do something you’re scared to do

Like bungee jumping, or skydiving, or going to a new church, or stepping out of your comfort zone.

Tackle a year long project

Long-term projects are intimidating things, especially since most of us live in a society that expects instant results and doesn’t like being patient. But a gap year is the perfect time to tackle a year-long project. This can be anything–from an art project, to an indie publishing project, a sewing project to a decluttering project. It doesn’t matter.

My goal for this year was to have my novel “The Stars Fill Infinity” ready to send to agents by the end of the year. It’s been pretty full time so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing if I can do it.

Make a new friend

Some people enjoy getting to know new people and some people don’t. For most of my life, I’ve had three very good friends and not many others. But I wanted to try reaching out to new people this year and making new friends as well as strengthening relationships with my old ones.

The great thing is, you can find a new friend almost anywhere. Don’t be afraid to step out of your preconceived notions about what a friend looks like. A friend can be younger than you, or older than you. They can be single, or married (you know, within reason. Don’t be creepy). They can have the same interests as you, or be completely different.

Become a leader

Find somewhere you can volunteer as a leader, or transition from student to leader if you’re old enough. For me, this was my church’s youth group, where I’m enjoying being a leader and getting the chance to invest in such wonderful kids. For you, it could be Girl Guides, Scouts, a youth program or a Bible study.

Mentor someone/be mentored

Depending on where you’re at spiritually and emotionally, either of these options, or both of them, could be good for you. I’m not currently mentoring or being mentored, but if the option arose for either, I’d definitely be interested. I think it’s a great way of being taught, of learning who you are and what you believe, seeing things from a different point of view and helping others do the same. It would also help you to build up friendships between people of different age ranges.

Keep a journal

I’ve been keeping a prayer journal and a regular journal (on and off) since I was fourteen and its one of my favourite things. I love looking back on moments of my life that I otherwise would have forgotten and seeing all the good and all the bad and the way that God has moved and changed me in those times. This is incredibly valuable and I think a lot of people underestimate the value of the diary/journal. And don’t throw that excuse about having nothing to write. Your life is interesting…and even if its not, God is interesting and definitely worth writing about.

Commit to a year long Bible study plan

Try reading the Bible cover to cover in a year. I think it’s something every Christian should do at least once, but it takes a lot of hard work, which is why it would be perfect to spend a gap year doing it.

Or try studying a particular concept for a year. Focus on the passages of the Bible that speak of peace, or love, or the Glory of God. I can guarantee you won’t know everything about that topic by the end of the year, but you’ll have learnt something worth knowing and its definitely not going to be a waste of time.

 

So there you have it! Fifteen options for your gap year. Also, a note on money…We’re all students, obviously, who may or may not have jobs, and definitely don’t have the money to fork out at random. I know a lot of the suggestions I gave in this post are quite expensive, but the great thing about these ideas is that they can be free or low cost, if you want them to be.

If you don’t want to pay for a gym membership, get fit by running around your neighbourhood. Try a hobby like knitting, which is very low cost. Adopt a mixed breed dog instead of buying a pedigree puppy. Look for free online classes. Travel using a site such as Workaway (do be careful though!)

There’s a lot of options. Don’t give up just because you’re broke. 😀 If you’d like more suggestions, just let me know in the comments and I’ll give you a few!

How about you guys? Do other countries have gap years or is this an Australian thing? Have you/will you take a gap year? What’s one new thing you’d like to try?

The Shakespeare Writing Tag

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I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t much like Shakespeare. I’m not really sure what it is, but none of his stories have completely grabbed my attention and held me. Maybe it’s just the old English.

But anyway, I really liked the questions for the Shakespeare tag. I have no idea who actually invented this tag, but Celeste did it on her blog a few days ago and switched it from a book tag to a writing tag. Which is what I’m doing today!

1. Much Ado About Nothing: Your favourite bickering couple whom everyone knows really care about each other (can be romantic relationships or friendship)

Probably Chessy and Justice. They bicker about everything, all the time. 😛

2. Measure for Measure: A WIP whose plot or genre is really hard to explain to other people

I have a really hard time explaining both the plot and genre of Wattle Fires. It’s a fantasy, because it takes place in a made up world, but it hasn’t got magic, a fantasy staple. It relies very heavily on cultural and historical facts, but its not historical fiction. And what’s the plot? Is it a classic fantasy quest? Not really. A political thriller? No. Murder mystery? Literary fiction? Who knows.

3. A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A WIP featuring fairies or elves

None of my current, serious WIPs have fairies or elves in them, but I do have two ideas, which feature elves quite prominently. One is a classic high fantasy idea where elves are classed in orders of Day Elves (similar to Tolkien’s elves in appearance, but more like Shakespeare’s elves in personality), the Night Elves (tall, pale, gem-loving, underground living scholars) and Twilight Elves (fading elves, all but forgotten).

The other WIP is a proper Australian fantasy, with quests and magic and stuff. The elves are jungle/rainforest elves who live in the tangled forests based off Cape York and Tasmania.

4. Hamlet: A female character you wish you could have featured more

Probably Rain in TSFI. She’s really cool and I just wish she’d had more time to shine.

5. The Sonnets: Have you written poetry for a WIP? Or a favourite poem you’ve written?

I don’t think I’ve written poetry for a WIP before, but I do have a favourite poem that I’ve written. I based it on Dorethea Mackellar’s poem “A Sunburnt Country”, but I won’t share it here because it mentions my hometown and all that.

6. Richard III: A Protagonist willing to do anything to get what they want

A lot of my protagonists are willing to do almost anything. But maybe I would say Justice. He’d go a step further than any of the others.

7. Antony and Cleopatra: A historical event you’d like to write about

Just one? Top 3 instead:

One–Colonial/Convict period of Australian settlement

Two–Pre-colonial Australian (so much awesome)

Three–Exploration of Antarctia

8. Titus Andronicus: A WIP you don’t talk about too often but have a soft spot for

Otter Storm, my first completed novel. Its the only early work of mine that I actually feel real affection for. Its definitely cliché and naïve, but I put a lot of effort into it, so I’m proud of that.

9. King Lear: A complex female villain or antihero

I love female villains/antagonists/antiheroes, because I feel they’re so underused in fiction. Because of this, in both of my retellings I have female villains. In TSFI, the Javert character is genderbent into a woman,  Maria Caderousse. And in, If the Stars are Fire, the Madame Defarge character stays female, and another prominent male character is made female as well.

Out of all my female villains though, Myrina Caelan (a character that none of my ITSAF alpha readers have actually met), might be my favourite.

10. The Taming of the Shrew: Choose two polarising WIPs, one you loved writing, and one you didn’t.

Actually, I’m going to choose one WIP for this. I wrote the first part of Wattle Fires during NaNoWriMo last year, at a time in my life where everything was falling apart. To add to that, I really couldn’t get a grasp on what the story was about or who the characters were, and I kept running into problematic colonialism elements with my German based culture.

After I got my 50k and finished NaNoWriMo (technically at 00:15 1 December), I took a break and left it for about four months.

Then, when I came back to it, I was really inspired. I changed the German culture to be Polynesian inspired, and I improved the plot and characters and voila! I had an absolute blast. So it was a very polarising experience.

What about you guys? Do you enjoy Shakespeare? What would be your answers to these questions? Have you ever had a WIP you changed your mind dramatically on?

The Project Inspire Award

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Hey there! How’s it going?

Guys, I’m going to be honest, I really have no ideas as to what I should post at the moment, so before I get to today’s blog post, I wanted to ask your opinion. What posts have you enjoyed reading in the past? Are there any topics you’d like me to explore? Would you like me to write more about Australian culture and history, like I did in my Anzac Day songs post, would you like more writing/book tags, like the ones I did during my character week, more info on my stories? Would you like me to join more blog tours and do more author interviews (in this vein, I’m excited to announce that I have a very awesome and special tour + interview coming up soon!), more discussion posts, or more life, ramble types?

I love writing all these things, I just need to more about what you guys like reading.

Anyhoo, I had the distinct honour of being nominated for Jenna’s Project Inspire Award last week! A month or so ago, I did Jenna’s Project Inspire tag but this is different. In her words:

I created an award! I am super excited to have the Project Inspire Award along with the tag. What’s different from the tag and the award, you say? Well, with the tag, one of the rules is to not tag anyone and leave it open for any blogger to do. With the award, of course, you will nominate three bloggers that have inspired you in any way. Sound awesome? Good.

Okay, rules! Continue reading

10 Non-Romantic Relationships I Love Writing

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Occasionally, one of my characters becomes a teenager and gets a little headstrong. When this happens, usually the first thing they do with their newfound freedom is to fall in love. This is very rarely planned, because my skills at romance are lacking. Like, Chessy just went ahead like the rebellious child she is and fell in love with Justice. And Sapphire was meant to fall for Chandler, but ended up with Quillon? I don’t know how these things happen in my novels anymore than I know how they happen in real life.

However, I don’t particularly love writing romance, and I don’t particularly like reading it. I find them less easy to write than other sorts of relationships, so the whole point of this post is not to talk about romantic relationships. Today, I’m going to highlight the ten non-romantic relationships that I love writing! Let’s have a look.

Best Friends

This is one of my favourites! For me, the most important people in my life, after my family, are my three best friends. I don’t know why, but strong, real best friends are really rare. I love writing them, though surprisingly I haven’t actually done it all that much. I absolutely loved writing Chessy and Rain’s relationship in TSFI, and I love reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s bff pairs in The Eagle of the Ninth and The Silver Branch, as well as Frodo and Sam, and Merry and Pippin, and all the other epic friendships from LOTR. Continue reading