Introduction of post: Happy Friday! In previous posts and podcast episodes I’ve shared on this blog, I’ve talked about the different steps everyone can take in order to write their first fiction story. I have also discussed some ideas for fiction stories that I wanted to pursue.
After taking a long break from this website and writing in general, I have decided to completely switch gears with the fiction story I had been planning. I thought the best way to share my idea would be to write it in the form of a draft and share it. My ideas are far from finalized, and I am completely open to constructive feedback on my draft at this point.
I just wanted to be able to add a space on my website where I can start to develop my ideas for fiction stories and start to develop a routine posting schedule again.
Name of story: Grey?
Setting: Starts in New Orleans, Louisiana. Typical two-story home in a quiet area. Working middle-class family and upbringing. Then shifts to an abandoned warehouse building with magical/supernatural elements. Meaning even though it’s a warehouse building, it transforms into a dark, poorly lit environment that is constantly changing for the rest of the story. The image of the room constantly shifts into different mazes and images, depending on what the female main character and “narrator” are talking about. The abandoned warehouse is related to the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The story doesn’t revolve around the aftermath of Kartina at all, but it does have a quiet, strong presence because it adds to the main question/theme of the story,
Theme: Which is “Can you label something as completely bad or completely good?” The main character is scared that she’s not a good person on the inside, but everyone thinks she is on the outside because she presents herself in a way that checks off the boxes of what mainstream society would consider a good person.
Setting Continued: Then the majority of the story takes place in a sort of maze the main character will walk through. She walks on a dirt path in a rural, wooded area, but will encounter different buildings that look completely out of place along the way. Ex. An NYC Penthouse, a small cottage, a shopping mall. The environment she stumbles in depends on what scenario each supporting character presents to her.
What season is it?: Fall, leading into winter
Music: Jazz & Hip-hop, street performers
Entertainment: Mardi Gras, festivals, a large mission trip with churches there to help with the aftermath of Katrina (which further contributes to the theme of good vs. bad).
Main character: Name- Cristal- The Greek meaning of this name means “pure of heart” which is significant b/c even though her biggest fear is that she is a bad person & that she has hurt several people in her life, she doesn’t realize how pure-hearted she truly is to her core.
Age: Mid-twenties (25)- subject to change
Hobbies: Art- drawing & painting, volunteering at an animal shelter, loves to play soccer, loves to watch football, loves to go out to bars & clubs with her small group of close friends & boyfriend, loves spending quality time with family & playing board games with parents
Pets?: Yes, one cat.
How she interacts with others: She’s extremely polite & respectful, people pleaser, charming, people find her compelling, oblivious to her own beauty, vulnerable, easy to take advantage of. People constantly underestimate her own self-awareness. She’s strategic. She is working on building self-confidence. She’s extremely intelligent. She is aware people are taking advantage of her sometimes but goes along with it, because the most important thing to her is that she is a nice person, despite the hardships she has faced in the past.
She is an excellent listener, she’s a bit naive, she was semi-sheltered throughout her childhood. People find her sweet, endearing, slightly childish but also extremely mature. She is confusing to people. They look at her with a watchful eye because the major shifts in her personality can come across as though she’s being disingenuous and hypocritical if you didn’t truly know her.
How does she react to being put under pressure?: She has a lot of anxiety. She reaches a boiling point & gets extremely emotional. She takes everything personally, even when it’s not about her. She spreads herself too thin. She shies away from conflict. She sacrifices her own happiness to make others happy. She feels like a complete failure when she can’t solve a task that was always going to be impossible for her to complete successfully. When she hurts/disappoints other people, fails to measure up to other people around her who had way more handouts than she did, she feels like a complete failure and doesn’t think she has a purpose. When she is under too much pressure, her mental health drastically spirals.
Narrator: Name- Basar, it means “sight, vision, the eye”, Arabic origin. His character is the only one with magical elements/powers. He can create visions that feel like reality to Cristal, but they are completely fabricated. She is physically safe for the entire story, even though at some points she feels like Basar has put her in real danger. He knows she feels this way, but secretly ensures her safety is always protected, pulling back slightly every time he notices that she is at her breaking point.
He is a trickster. He is all-knowing. He was mortal in his initial lifetime. He had a troubled childhood. He has done this journey with other people before, but he really sees himself in Cristal. Cristal makes him feel nostalgic and secretly touched that she is such a kind person who is so troubled by the thought she might be bad. He has a long grey beard and black eyes. He knows that Cristal will become overwhelmed by the vision and he knows what conclusion she will come to in the end because it’s the same conclusion he came to several years ago, in the same exact way she did.
She won’t ever realize that he genuinely liked her and wanted to protect her, but this will be seen by the readers at the very end of the story. When Cristal begins to question the point of trying to be a good person, he gently ensures that she won’t veer off onto the path of apathy or rebellion by gently reminding her of her roots.
This draft is far from complete but I wanted to make this post today as a baseline. Throughout the next couple of months feel free to check-in for updates to see how I develop this story further. Happy Friday!
So, you want to start your journey as a Freelance writer on Fiverr, but you have mixed emotions about it. You might have heard that Fiverr is a great platform to utilize as a Freelancer and earn some extra money on the side, or you may have heard the downsides of Fiverr. They take 20% of your earnings, they’re known to attract bargain hunting clients, and the platform has practically become a meme among popular YouTubers at this point.
I can’t tell you if Fiverr is the best platform for you and the specific services that you offer, but I can give my honest opinion after being a seller on the platform for a few months. In this article I will discuss the pros & cons of Fiverr for freelance writers, and I will give you some tips on how to get started if you choose to starting selling on Fiverr.
The good part about Fiverr.
In my opinion, there’s no shame in getting started on Fiverr. Use it as an experiment. Before I started Fiverr I had no clue what niche I wanted to write for. After running one Gig that’s gotten 1K impressions and 10 5-star reviews (I’m a little picky about the clients I agree to work for), I’ve noticed what industries I am attracting to my gigs and what topics I enjoy writing about. I have created content for realtors, construction companies, lifestyle blogs, dating websites, and more! I would have never known that I enjoy these niches, had I not had a platform to explore this. It’s a learning process!
Earn money to reinvest into your business.
Another reason to use Fiverr when you first get started as a Freelancer, is to earn some money that you can reinvest into your business! We hear it time and time again. “Just stop buying that cup of coffee every morning.” “Quit ordering takeout.” “Skip a night out in order to save money.” There’s always this assumption that we secretly have money hidden away to invest in a brand new freelancing business, but the truth is, sometimes you just don’t have the money to spare! You don’t have to stop purchasing the little things that bring you joy, and some of us (especially the parents out there) need every cent of our current income for living expenses and necessities. So the best part about getting started on Fiverr? Once you start making money, you can use these funds to invest in your business further.
Some other pros about Fiverr is that they have a resolution center you can utilize, the platform allows you to easily make custom orders, you set your own prices, and (this is a big one) you are guaranteed to get paid if you deliver work to your client. One of the biggest challenges of being a freelancer is trying to chase down payments and make sure that you aren’t being scammed. Fiverr eliminates this worry since they collect the payment. Customers have to put down their credit card information before they place an order with you, so as long as everything works out and the order eventually gets marked as complete, you will get paid!
Finally, one last pro of this platform is that customers can tip you! After you have delivered an order, and your client marks it as complete, they have the option to review and tip you! This tip money will be paid to you on top of whatever they paid you for the Gig, but keep in mind that just like everything else, Fiverr will take a percentage of this tip. (If you have a positive experience with a Fiverr seller, and it’s financially feasible, please remember to tip!)
I used my first deposit from Fiverr to buy a P.O. box for 6 months so that I can start an Email list (Legally you have to provide an address at the bottom of your Email newsletter), where I mail out a weekly newsletter to small business owners. This helps me find future clients and meet other business owners! I couldn’t have afforded this in the beginning without that money from Fiverr. You may want to invest in a Canva subscription, buy office supplies, purchase video editing software, or use the additional income to start running advertisements on social media to promote your business. The point is, you can take this money from Fiverr and use it as seed money to market yourself on other platforms. Fiverr can (and probably should) be a stepping stone, not the final destination.
The downsides of using Fiverr.
Now it’s time for us to discuss the cons. What’s the biggest downside of Fiverr? They take 20% of your earnings when you first start out. That’s a lot. The benefit to Fiverr is that you don’t have to have previous experience or published work in order to use their platform. This is why they seem to attract brand new freelance writers more than any other freelance platform. The downside of this, is they take more of your earned income than other freelance platforms.
Another con is that Fiverr is a bargain hunting platform. This means that most clients on there are looking for the lowest price possible, but they still have extremely high expectations. This is the main reason that Fiverr is a stepping stone and not the final destination. Just remember to prioritize other avenues of income, and maybe offer low word count articles, that way you don’t spend a long time working on orders that won’t help you pay the bills.
The clients you meet on Fiverr stay on Fiverr.
Fiverr has a very strict policy that you cannot contact clients outside of Fiverr. So if you get an awesome repeat client on Fiverr, you can’t contact them on social media outside of Fiverr, set up a Zoom meeting (Fiverr does have it’s own video chat feature available for some clients), or fully market to them. If you decide to leave Fiverr, then you leave all of the contacts you have made on the platform, otherwise you violate the platform’s policy. It’s definitely not ideal but the positive side to that is that Fiverr will do the marketing for you and push your gig out to potential clients. This means that sometimes you will have had a gig running for months and one day randomly a brand new client will place an order with you, and you haven’t even been marketing your gig!
This is an incredible thing and also a potentially stressful thing. This is the biggest mistake I made in the beginning. Make sure you are consistently checking your Email notifications from Fiverr or logging onto Fiverr itself to see if any clients have messaged you or placed an order with you recently. Fiverr really cares about your average response time, so you want to respond to messages as quickly as possible! Remember that even if you haven’t had an order placed with you in awhile, it could happen randomly while you’re out on a Friday night, completely unaware. The last thing you want is for a client to pay for a gig that you put a 10 hour timer on, while you’re out for the night and away from your phone.
Luckily, Fiverr does have a few features in place to help you with this. Fiverr allows you to put a cap on your orders. For example, for my most popular gig I have changed my settings so that I can only have 3 active orders going on for that Gig at the same time. (I learned the hard way that 4 orders at once can be a bit overwhelming for me personally!) You can always pause your Gig, be careful with this though, it can potentially mess with your Gig’s ranking. You can also set your availability on your profile. This means if you have a week when you are going out of town, you can tell Fiverr not to let anyone place an order with you that week. You can still message with clients while you are not accepting orders, in order to touch base and keep them in the loop. Finally, as a last resort, if someone placed an order with you and you either don’t have enough information or you just don’t have the time, you can cancel the order. This will definitely negatively impact your Gig’s ranking, but sometimes you just don’t have another choice so remember that this option is available to you.
Tips for getting started on Fiverr.
We have discussed the pros and cons of being a Freelance writer on Fiverr. What are some tips for brand new Freelance writers who are going to get started on Fiverr?
It’s not “quick” money.
When you first get started, please understand it’s not “quick” money and there’s a lot of waiting around that comes with Fiverr. When you first sign up for Fiverr (if you are located in the United States) you will have to fill out a W-9 form. You’ll have to know your social security number and be comfortable with sharing it in order to complete this form. You cannot be a seller on the platform without completing this form. It took a few days for my form to get reviewed and approved, then I could finally start getting my actual Fiverr shop up and running.
Then it came to my first payment. Fiverr is totally transparent about how getting paid works and they even discuss this further in some of the free learning courses that they offer. However….I didn’t pay attention to that part. At first it seemed so hopeless that I would ever get a Gig because wow, it felt like forever until someone finally placed an order with me. It took almost two months. However, when I finally did get that first order I wasn’t prepared for how long it would take to get paid.
Here’s a breakdown of how the order process on Fiverr works. Someone places an order with you. Before your timer runs out, you deliver the work to your buyer. Depending on how many revisions you’ve offered, your buyer can either request a revision or mark the order as complete. If they don’t do either of these actions, the order will automatically be marked as complete in 3 days. Once you have delivered your revisions and your buyer is satisfied, they will mark the Gig as complete. Then you have to wait 2 weeks until your funds are out of pending and are available for you to withdraw. On top of this, if you opt for direct deposit, you have to wait until your information gets approved and then your first payment can take up to 7 days to be deposited into your account. My funds were deposited right away but still, after all of the waiting I had to do for every other step I was starting to get nervous.
I’m not intending to criticize the platform for this waiting time but I do find it important to mention. If you’re planning on using your Fiverr earnings to pay a time sensitive bill, please be aware of the waiting time that comes with withdrawing your earnings!
Run multiple Gigs.
The best advice I can give to a beginner on Fiverr for any job or niche, is to make sure you are running multiple Gigs. Change them all up so that there is something different about each one. Running multiple gigs and giving it a little time (This could be anywhere from 1 month to 10 months!) will eventually lead you to getting your first client.
For example, my main job is producing blog content but I also create social media templates, social media calendars, and have consulting services to help business owners review their social media accounts. I ran a Gig for each of the skills I had. I experimented with different cover images, prices, targeting specific industries, etc. Also, do not upload multiple Gigs at the same exact time on the same exact day. It sounds crazy but I swear it matters! Sometimes one Gig will perform better than another just because it was uploaded at a time when more people were online. I can’t tell you what time you should aim for, but definitely make sure to mix it up.
A lot of people will try to tell you that you need to lower your prices, but the truth is, you might just have to give it time. Buyers have a hard time taking a chance on a brand new seller with 0 reviews when they could instead place an order with a seller whose had multiple clients and has multiple glowing reviews.
I decided to make my prices extremely low when I first started out in order to be competitive with experienced sellers, and it worked! However…it came at a cost. I have undervalued my work. I’m not even joking I had a client message me to tell me that I lowballed myself and that the work I delivered exceeded all of their expectations so I should raise my prices. On the one hand, I was super excited to deliver quality work that they enjoyed! On the other hand…ouch…I spent 3 hours on a job I got paid $30 for. It’s not the worst thing in the world but I definitely could be doing better.
Be careful when you lower your prices to stay competitive. Don’t do so at your own expense and remember, that after you get a few positive reviews, it’s okay to start raising your prices!
You should be offering sample work.
Even if you have never ever had a paid gig as a writer, you should still have sample work. Let me explain. Buyers don’t want to take a chance on a brand new seller without some sort of social proof, so…offer them social proof! Stand out from other beginners by putting in your Gig’s description and creating an FAQ for all of your Gigs that lets potential buyers know that you are happy to offer sample work to anyone who requests it.
You can either identify the niche you want to write for and pick 3 topics you think people in that niche would find valuable, then write sample articles about these topics. Or, if you don’t have the slightest clue what niche you want to write for, that’s fine too! I went on Indeed and looked at topics that employers wanted freelance writer applicants to write about and I wrote about those topics. I keep a folder saved on my laptop of all of my sample work. That way when someone requests it, I can give them work that I think relates best to what topic they want me to write about.
Last but certainly not least, buyer requests. If you’ve already ran multiple gigs and offered sample work and you feel like you want to scream because you still haven’t gotten a gig, there’s one more thing you can do! When you’re on your selling profile (make sure you didn’t accidentally switch your profile to “buying”), go to the top menu and select the “more” button. Then select “Buyer Requests.” Buyers will post requests like “looking for someone to write an SEO-friendly blog article for my construction website” and you have the ability to send them a custom offer! If they like your prices and like what you’re offering, then they might become your first client! The longer you have Fiverr opened on your computer the more Buyer Requests you will be able to see. Check it multiple times throughout the day and don’t be alarmed if at times it says there are 0 requests. I promise it won’t be 0 forever. You can send up to 10 offers a day this way.
So, are you thinking of trying Fiverr? let me know in the comments below!
P.S. time for a shameless self plug, but I am currently running a new Gig on Fiverr where I write blog content for small businesses. If you’re interested send me a message on Fiverr, I’d love to chat!
Hey guys! In this week’s podcast episode I wanted to talk about a bunch of things that are new in the digital marketing world. I talked about new digital marketing trends in 2021 and then specific news updates about individual social media platforms.
As always, I will provide the links to each article I mentioned in the episode. So let’s get into the episode!
I covered an article on PPCexpo titled “What’s new in Digital Marketing? Latest Trends in Digital Marketing in 2021.” Here are the trends I broke down in today’s episode:
Voice search. This PPCexpo article shares that “voice search is projected to account for more than 50% of all searches by 2020. With over 33 million devices already using voice search.”
Conversion optimization. Does your business have a landing page? This article says that you should have a few! Businesses that have 31-40 landing pages generate almost 7 times as many leads as businesses that have just a few landing pages. Note: For those who may not know, a landing page is a standalone page, separate from your website that serves a singular purpose. For example, realtors might make a landing page for an open house for a specific property they’re selling.
Content marketing is changing. If you’re reading this on WordPress and have a blog of your own I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m going to say next. Blogging has become such a saturated realm of the internet that it takes more than a standard text post about a common topic to get potential clients. You have to experiment with different formats like video and make sure that you’re sharing original, creative content.
You need video content. Many marketers are using videos in Emails and on their landing pages which can boost conversions by almost 90%.
Visual search is becoming more and more popular. Pinterest has invested heavily in this feature and even launched lenses (According to the article lenses is, “a visual search tool that enables people to use visual search to find products and buy them online.” Google Lens is another feature to look out for.
Podcasting is not in the past! It’s important to remember that even though there are so many Podcasts out there, so many of them are inactive, don’t post consistently, or don’t market themselves at all. Over 40 million Americans listen to an average of 5 podcast episodes each week. Don’t give up on putting out Podcast episodes and if they aren’t giving you the results you want, maybe rethink your podcast marketing strategy!
Track your analytics to get a realistic understanding of where you are now and in order to help yourself make more effective decisions about future advertising.
Embrace 2021’s trends to remain competitive.
This is the end of the first article we discussed and the beginning of a brief tangent I went into that I wanted to share. As someone who works around Real Estate agents during my full-time job, I’ve noticed a troubling pattern. Many Real Estate agents will pass around outdated information, watch videos that are several years old, and finally feel ready to share a trend as it’s dying out. I am a firm believer that knowledge doesn’t have an expiration date but when you go to research anything about social media, it’s important to watch newer content because of how often these platforms update. Whether it’s Facebook changing their rules for advertisements or Instagram adding Instagram reels, watching a video that’s just a few months old could be inaccurate and set you up for failure. Push yourself to hop on a trend as soon as you hear about it, not three months down the line. The social media world moves fast!
Next, I covered Instagram’s new blog post which sheds light on how Instagram’s mysterious “algorithm” works.
Instagram’s main point in sharing this information is to debunk the misconception that one algorithm is responsible for what people see and do not see on the app. This blog post discusses that there are multiple algorithms. They even reference fact that “by 2016 people were missing 70% of all their posts in feed, including almost half of posts from their close connections. This is their reasoning for why they use the algorithm they use today because they want users to be able to consistently see content they’re interested in. Something I’ve always heard is that watch-time is the most valuable metric on any social media platform that you’re using, so this logic also applies to Instagram’s motivation.
Another interesting thing Instagram shared was users’ habits when it comes to utilizing the platform’s specific features. For example, people tend to watch stories when they want to see content from their closest friends, but when they want to see something completely new they visit their explore page. I think that it’s extremely beneficial to remember this thought process when we’re developing strategies for our Instagram stories versus our Instagram feed posts.
Now let’s get into how Instagram ranks your feed and stories. Your feed and stories are all recent posts from people that you follow. Instagram calls information that they have about what was posted and who made the posts “signals.” Here are the most important signals they mentioned:
Information about the post- The app looks at how many likes a post has, when the post was posted, how long video posts are, and what location is attached to the post.
Information about the person who posted- The app looks at how many times people have interacted with that person in the past few weeks.
Your activity- This looks at factors like how many posts you’ve liked to figure out what content you are interested in.
Your history of interacting with someone- For example, if you comment on someone’s post, this shows how interested you are in seeing posts from a particular person.
After the app takes these signals into account, they start to make a series of educated guesses. These guesses are to try and figure out how likely you are to interact with a post in different ways. In your feed, they look at 5 things- how much time you spend looking at a post and how likely you are to comment, like, and save a post. They also look at how likely you are to click on the profile picture of the person who made the post. They add and remove these “signals” over time, constantly trying to modify their algorithm to get better at finding what you like.
A couple of other interesting tidbits that were shared are that Instagram wants to avoid showing you too many posts from the same person in a row and they mentioned that until recently they valued stories that were re-shared from user’s feeds less because they kept hearing that users were more interested in original stories. However, when big events happened like the Olympics for example, they saw a huge burst of re-shared posts and knew their users were expecting their stories to reach more users than they actually did, so Instagram changed this.
They also briefly discuss how important it is to follow the community guidelines and call out misinformation. A PSA that I think is important to mention is that third-party fact-checkers can label your posts as misinformation and apply a label to the post without taking it down. However, if you’ve posted misinformation multiple times, Instagram themselves want you to know that they may make all of your content harder to find.
Read more of Instagram’s blog post that I linked down below to learn more about how they rank explore, how they rank reels, shadowbanning, and how you can influence what you see.
Now for the perhaps messiest but most intriguing news, I’ve seen recently in the digital marketing world: Facebook and Apple, the feud continues.
Facebook has announced that they will be launching a new interface that will show influencers how much money Apple and Google take from them. You love to see it.
In an article posted on the Verge written by Jay Peters, the author goes more into detail about what this new interface actually is. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO announced that this new interface will show influencers how different fees affect their earnings on the platform. This release is happening while Apple is getting a lot of negative attention for their App store fees.
Zuckerberg didn’t say when this new interface will be released. The CEO also made sure to note that Facebook will keep paid online events, fan subscriptions, badges, and their upcoming independent new products free for creators until 2023. Initially, Facebook promised not to collect fees from the events feature until at least 2021 and that when the company finally does do a revenue share for this feature, “it will be less than the 30% that Apple and others take.”
This is conveniently happening while Facebook and Apple are still engaged in a public feud because of Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency feature that was introduced with the iOS 14.5 update. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has publicly stated that privacy should be a human right in regards to Apple’s new feature, while Zuckerberg continues to state that this update will harm small businesses and raise costs throughout the internet.
I want to make a point to state that even though I include short opinions about both of these platforms and updates, I don’t think it’s as simple as being right or wrong. I think both privacy and supporting small businesses are important. I think both companies have come out with some amazing features and some not great features. Most importantly I believe every company, especially ones that completely dominate a specific field should be continuously challenged and forced to evolve. I think it’s interesting that Apple, which is a company that also gets scrutinized often for their alleged violations of privacy, is the one to challenge Facebook, but maybe that’s more effective. Maybe a major company forcing another major company to evolve is more effective than other routes that we’ve seen taken over the past few years.
Even this new Interface that Facebook is releasing, sounds amazing. Apple should be scrutinized for its prices if its client base isn’t happy. If any company has a large percentage of their client base upset at how they do business, it might be time to evolve. Competition is crucial to making sure that users are satisfied and a company never remains stagnant. I think it’s interesting to see that not only has this feud between Facebook and Apple not died out by now, but they are still actively and publicly continuing this feud by releasing helpful features for their users. It’s a strange way to put out some unexpected positivity to both of their loyal client bases.
So, that wraps up today’s episode! I am genuinely so interested to read your comments down below and to see what your opinions are on this feud between Facebook and Apple. Please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts! See you in next week’s episode!
Hey guys! On this week’s Podcast episode I followed up on a previous episode titled “How to Write a Horror Story.”
In that episode I talked about how I am planning on writing a fiction horror story for the first time! On this week’s episode I updated you guys on my outline for my horror story, I discussed a blog post that teaches you how to plan a fiction novel, and then I talked a lot about the Cecil Hotel since it has become an inspiration for this new book I want to write.
To keep it brief I’ve decided to write a novel about an eighteen-year old girl who lives somewhere in the U.S. The book takes place during the Summer before she will be starting college. The main character who I have temporarily named Annalise will be hitchhiking her way through the country as one final act of freedom before she enters the real world. The character has extremely overprotective parents so she told a couple of white lies to convince them to let her go. Little does the main character know that she has bipolar disorder which has never been formally diagnosed and during the middle of this trip, she gets thrown into a full-blown manic episode.
I talked a lot about the steps I will take to prevent exploiting people with bipolar disorder and to prevent myself from portraying this disorder inaccurately. I have decided that the character has bipolar disorder type 1, simply because a manic episode has different symptoms than a hypo-manic episode which is what’s associated with bipolar disorder type 2 (also known as bipolar depression). I personally have been diagnosed with bipolar depression and I understand just how important it is to accurately portray the symptoms without feeding into the harmful stereotypes that surround this disorder.
My intent with this story is to get people to understand how scary it can be to struggle with this disorder, especially for those who are undiagnosed and unmedicated. I have set some hard limits, the main character will not commit an act of violence throughout the story and she will not have a fatal ending. I don’t think either of these scenarios will contribute anything to the reader’s experience or my intention with this story. A common misconception about people with bipolar disorder is that they are violent, and I want to debunk several myths like this throughout the story.
Some other minor details I’ve come up with so far is that the main character is either a writer or photographer. She is going to college for a career either in the medical or engineering field but indulges in the arts as a hobby. She wants to launch a new blog and document her travels. Right now I am planning on using this minor detail to help deliver the ending of the story. I don’t know too much about the ending but I know ultimately I would like it to end with ethical medical intervention for the main character, where the reader will formally learn about her diagnosis.
In order to form this outline I followed the 10 steps that were mentioned in this article:
If you are planning on writing a novel soon or in the future, I would strongly recommend reading through the article linked above to help get your ideas on paper!
So…let’s talk about the Cecil Hotel. This obsession I have with this hotel started when I watched a Netflix Docuseries titled “Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.” The series focused mostly on the tragic case of Elisa Lam. As I was planning my novel I realized subconsciously I was thinking about this case and the Cecil Hotel. I want to make it very clear that the novel I am planning in no way intends to copy the details of what happened to Elisa Lam but this case is simply a reference for major themes that will be discussed in my story. Actually the obsession I have is with the history of the Cecil Hotel itself because I find it absolutely bizarre. However, out of respect and full transparency I did briefly talk about who Elisa Lam is and what happened to her because after all she is a part of the history of the Cecil Hotel.
So, in February of 2013 Elisa Lam who was a Canadian tourist tragically passed away at the Cecil Hotel located in downtown Los Angeles. If you’re a true crime fan, you’ve probably seen the infamous elevator footage. Just minutes before her death, security footage at the Cecil shows Elisa Lam standing in one of the hotel’s elevators alone. She is acting extremely erratically in the footage. She is waving her arms and speaking seemingly to someone who is outside of the elevator, even though no one was caught on camera. She also pressed all of the elevator buttons and popped her head out of the elevator several times to look into the hallway. When I first saw this footage with no context I thought she was playing some sort of game with friends she had made but it later comes out, no one else was caught on video at this time. The elevator door stayed open for a concerning amount of time and the footage’s choppy nature all contributed to how poorly this video was received.
This footage was released to the internet by the detectives who were working the case of trying to find Elisa Lam, who was just thought to be missing at the time. However the internet erupted into chaos, forming several conspiracy theories and web sleuths began to have a field day with the footage. Here’s what actually was said to have happened.
Elisa Lam who wrote on her blog about the fact she had bipolar disorder and stopped taking her medication, had a manic episode. During manic episodes some people can experience visual and auditory hallucinations. This fact combined with the hotel’s lack of following safety guidelines, led to an extremely bizarre and tragic ending for Elisa. First of all, the hotel’s elevator door stayed open because Elisa had accidentally pressed the hold button in the elevator. Once the elevator door stayed open Elisa Lam exited the elevator and made her way to the roof. The hotel’s security cameras never actually showed Elisa leaving the hotel so after awhile detectives began to realize they needed to search the hotel itself to find her.
Guests and residents of the Cecil Hotel are obviously not supposed to have access to the roof because of the many safety guidelines that violates, however they did. The door to the roof was often left unlocked and would not set off alarms if opened, even though the hotel’s formal statement was that the door would set off an alarm if opened. Once Elisa made it to the roof, she is said to have climbed up the water tower and jumped in as a way to escape her hallucinations.
I genuinely understand why people without a solid understanding of what bipolar disorder is, are prone to believing the conspiracy theories. Elisa Lam’s body was eventually found naked, floating in the water tank and that seems like an extremely brutal ending for one bad mental health episode. So it makes sense why so many people feel like there has to be more to the story, but the reality is, that’s the whole story. Elisa Lam was unmedicated, experiencing a manic episode and she climbed into the water tower to escape the hallucinations. Once she was in the water tank she most likely quickly became overwhelmed by the water pressure and took off her clothes as her body’s natural response to experiencing hypothermia.
Elisa had actually been moved into a private room in the days before her death because the roommates she was originally staying with complained about her erratic behavior. As heartbreaking and brutal as her ending is, it isn’t a conspiracy. It’s a heartbreaking unfortunate tragedy.
I also want to quickly mention the fact that many people believe the Netflix Docuseries was exploitative of Elisa. The documentary was made to look like a documentary mostly about the Cecil Hotel but Elisa Lam was the main subject discussed in every single episode. There are also parts where they show her Tumblr username which was one of the platforms she blogged on and read her blog posts out loud which many viewers felt was an invasion of privacy. The docuseries experienced other criticisms as well including the fact they took on too many topics without giving a conclusion to all of them. I would definitely urge readers of this post to not rely solely on the docuseries for information about the Cecil Hotel.
So now, let’s actually talk about the Cecil Hotel. At some point I would love to replicate this hotel’s unique characteristics and find a way to implement them into a story of my own. The Cecil Hotel is located directly next to an area referred to as “Skid Row.” This name comes from the saying that people end up in this area when they’re “on the skids.” The area has an extremely large homeless population. Skid row covers 50 blocks in Downtown Los Angeles. The area has been known for its homeless population starting riots, selling drugs, and breaking the law in other various ways. This area is also known for frequent instances of police brutality. The Netflix docuseries briefly discusses the fact that officials made a plan to basically keep homeless people in Skid Row all together and keep them out of other areas of California.
The hotel was known for being a space where sex offenders, gangsters, prostitutes, and serial killers stayed when they had the money or wanted to hide out. This was a fact known to residents of Downtown Los Angeles but it was not a fact usually known by tourists from other countries. Many tourists who stayed at the Cecil experienced two major surprises. The first surprise was realizing where the hotel was located and having to walk through Skid Row to visit different attractions. The second surprise was entering the hotel’s stunning lobby, only to then see the rest of the hotel which paled in comparison. Since the Cecil is a budget hotel, the rooms are minimal and have historically looked extremely rundown.
The Cecil Hotel opened in 1927 and it was intended to be a spot for traveling businessmen and tourists. After two years of the hotel being opened, the Great Depression happened and this is when the hotel’s interior itself began to see a decline. In 1931 the hotel saw its first tragedy when a man staying at the hotel committed suicide and this seemed to mark the beginning of the hotel’s reputation for being a place people ended up at when they were down on their luck.
Several people have committed suicide in this hotel either in their rooms or by jumping off the building which has 19 floors and 700 guest rooms. Several other tragedies happened at this hotel including the case of a woman who was found raped, stabbed, and beaten which still remains unsolved today. Richard Ramirez known as the “Night Stalker” was fond of staying at the Cecil Hotel. He was able to leave at odd hours of the night and change his clothes in the alley without attracting attention since he blended in easily with the other residents.
In 2011 the hotel was split and half of the hotel was renamed to “Stay at Main.” The hotel was desperate to rebrand and get away from the Cecil’s reputation. Since the hotel’s demographic mainly consisted of longtime residents of Skid Row and tourists from other countries, Stay at Main was an attempt to attract more tourists. When potential hotel guests googled “stay at main” they most likely wouldn’t see the concerning search results that they would see when they googled “Cecil Hotel.” In the docuseries the hotel’s old manager who was hired despite having no previous managerial experience, discussed other attempts she made to change the hotel’s clientele. One more unethical approach she tried to take was evicting the hotel’s longtime residents but this attempt failed since there were laws protecting these residents as an attempt to get homeless people off the streets of Skid Row. This hotel desperately tried to rebrand and is still making attempts to rebrand themselves to this day.
In 2017 Los Angeles made the Cecil Hotel a landmark. There are currently renovations being done to the Cecil Hotel that are scheduled to be done in October of 2021.
I find the Cecil Hotel so interesting because it has a bunch of different elements contributing to its unique environment. This hotel targets two main demographics; well intentioned tourists from other countries who want to visit the version of Los Angeles they see on TV and long-time residents of Skid Row who are used to witnessing crime and police violence on a regular basis. Tourists at this hotel stay for short amounts of time and long-time residents think of this hotel as their home. Both of these demographics share elevators and common spaces but reside on opposite sides of the hotel.
I have never heard of any hotel quite like the Cecil and even if its a location that will only be briefly mentioned in my future story, I think this hotel is the perfect spot to implement into a Horror Story.
That is it for this week’s episode! Let me know down in the comments if you’ve already known about the Cecil Hotel and what intrigues you about it the most. See you guys in two weeks for the next episode where I will be discussing what’s new on the digital marketing side of the internet. See you next week!
It’s been a while! I just wanted to give a quick update on what you can expect from this blog from now on. It’s safe to say I definitely experienced another episode of “writer’s block.” This time it wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas of things to write about. My busy schedule, a lot of life changes, and the pressures of having to constantly come up with new ideas all resulted in me taking a break from all of my digital platforms.
However, once it was time to come back, I was nervous that it had been too long. Then another month passed and then another and then another…
So I’m finally ripping the Band-Aid off and posting! From now on, once every other week I will post a one-hour-long podcast episode. On my Podcast, I like to give movie reviews, book reviews, comment on popular trends in literature and talk about relevant social issues that come up in the writing space.
As far as the blog you’re reading right now goes, I will post at least once a week. I will post poetry, fiction stories, tips for freelance writers, and digital marketing updates that pertain to freelance writers. I may post less, and I may post more, but you can expect a post once a week from now on at minimum.
For my Instagram account, my long-term goal is to post three times a week, but for now, I can only commit to one day a week. On my Instagram, I post poetry that you can’t find on my website and more tips for freelance writers! Over the past year, I have definitely learned the value of setting realistic goals and following through on them. Even though I’ve done a good job of following through on this in my personal life, I haven’t done such a great job when it comes to AJ’s Creative Corner.
So these are the goals for 2022, I’m very excited about a new beginning and I will see you guys next week!
This post is a sort of “response” to Ada Limón’s poem Accident Report in the Tall, Tall Weeds. http://www.buenosairesreview.org/2015/02/ada-limon/ I thought the message of the poem was so beautifully worded and unique that I was really inspired to write something of my own.
Subtle reassurance through wide tired brown eyes,
A comfortable silence spent staring at morning skies.
Grocery store trips and doctor appointments filled with laughter,
Fairy Tales were onto something with “happily ever after.”
The sound of a deep gravelly goodnight and a soft cheerful good morning.
The kind of love that really shouldn’t come without a warning.
It’s good and it’s simple and it’s managed to stay sweet,
Name’s been on the tip of my tongue all week.
I know this ground isn’t solid and I should run for cover,
I know my idealisms cause my own heart to suffer.
But I’m addicted to your presence, I refuse to give you up,