Submit your Qs for a live sesh with Sunshine Girl's Paige McKenzie!
You probably know her as the face behind The Haunting of Sunshine Girl series. But if you ask Paige McKenzie what she does, her response would sound a little bit like this: "I am an author, actress, YouTuber, producer, director, artist, content creator and overall a very sarcastic person."
Growing up, Paige loved acting and modeling but, after struggling to book gigs, she decided to create her own show—and make herself the star. When her YouTube series (which she describes as "Gilmore Girls meets Paranormal Activity") started taking off, she was asked to turn her show into books...and the Sunshine Girl trilogy was born. She gushes, "It's been a whirlwind adventure, one that's taught me so much about myself, the creative process and collaborating with others."
Now she's sharing what she's learned along the way with y-o-u, GL girls! Through four mini lessons (scroll down to find them all), Paige is teaching you how to become the writer you've *always* dreamt of being—whether you want to author the next great American novel or simply start an amaze blog.
Here's the breakdown:
+ Part 1: Becoming an authentic writer
+ Part 2: Perfecting your style
+ Part 3: Putting yourself out there
+ Part 4: Finding your niche
Peep the video from Paige below, then pull out those notebooks and get started.
Every girl knows that to be successful, you have to be yourself. But, uh, what does that actully mean? In terms of your writing, it means staying true to your voice and making the characters feel relatable and like real people. It's why Paige considers herself and Sunshine to be basically the same person (except, she notes, Sunshine is way cooler and taller).
Find what works for you—every writer is different and has their own process. And that process might change over time but the important thing is to always do what feels right to you and not to worry about what everyone else is doing. The one exception? "Listen to the feedback of your fans (or the people you trust like your family and friends)," says Paige. "For example, I asked one of my good friends to play Uncle Tommy for a few episodes and the fans watching fell in love with him so now he's a regular face on the show. Sunshiners spoke, I listened!"
We challenge you to...
Just write. Free writing is an awesome way to figure out your true voice. Don't worry about spelling or grammar or who might end up reading your piece. No one even has to read it—this is just for you. The important thing is that you put pencil to paper (or okay, probably fingers to laptop) a little bit each day. The more you practice, the more authentic of an author you become.
And if you get stuck or don't know what to write about, follow Paige's top tip for beating writer's block: "There are lots of great websites that offer writing prompts with a beginning sentence and you just take off from there. One of my favorite ones is, 'The biggest movie star in the world just accidentally got stuck in your hometown. She asks you to show her around while her car gets repaired. What do you show her? What do you tell her about your town? What do you tell her about yourself?'"
When it comes to her unique writing style, Paige admits, "I was lucky to begin my professional writing career penning a story that I had already told on YouTube, so I had some training wheels to start." But she's also quick to stress that while you might not be an online celeb like she is, you can still, well, take a page from her book by letting your own personal experiences guide your writing.
Journaling is an awesome way to work on your writing—when you're describing things you know or have gone through, you're more relaxed and the words come naturally. Sometimes, your journal is the best place to look when you're trying to figure out what your style is! Paige also notes that *any* type of writing is helpful. Yes, even your homework. She says, "Instead of looking at it as just homework assigned by a mean teacher, think of it as an excuse to practice your craft."
We challenge you to...
Open up your favorite book and read a page. Then, Paige explains, ask yourself the following questions: What is it about the writing that you love? Is it the choice of words, the characters, the adventure, the story itself? Write down exactly why you love that particular book and then use some of your findings to enhance your own. For example, if you love the way Paige sets up the plot with background stories, keep that in mind while you're writing as inspo.
So you've written something you *love* and can't wait to share it. You're feeling on top of the world...and then someone criticizes it and makes you question your own work. No one understands dealing with criticism more than Paige (can you say internet trolls, nasty comments and death threats?!) but it's given her a thicker skin and the confidence to not care what anyone else thinks.
"Write because you love to write. Because you love to tell stories. Because you have a story you just have to get out of you. Because you think it's fun. No matter what you write, someone will write something better. Someone will write something worse. And someone will have an opinion about it. None of it matters if you're writing because you love it." Couldn't have said it better ourselves, Paige.
We challenge you to...
Write a letter to a future employer describing your strengths and all of the things that make you so awesome. When you're finished, tuck it away and read it whenever you're having a tough day or feeling like you aren't good enough. Paige adds, "We all need a little reminder every now and again about how great we are!"
Paige might be the princess of paranormal (and has been ever since she was a kid), but that doesn't mean you have to be, too. In fact, you probably aren't. The goal is to write about what interests you or what you love to read. In the words of Paige, "If you love pomegranates and puppies, write a story about that. You do you!"
The best way to find where you fit in is by doing some exploration. Whether you read what famous authors have to say about their own work—Paige loves Stephen King's On Writing—or join a writers' group either online or IRL, connecting with other writers can really open your eyes to new techniques and niches. You might discover that your perfect fit is in a genre you didn't even know existed.
We challenge you to...
Write a different genre each day for a week. Paige suggests the following (but feel free to pick and choose your own): mystery on Monday, romance on Tuesday, historical on Wednesday, horror on Thursday, sci-fi on Friday, chick-lit on Saturday and poetry on Sunday. Once the week is up, you should have a much clearer vision of which is your fave.
BONUS: What are you *dying* to know (either about Sunshine Girl or just writing in general)? Leave your Qs in the comments below and tune in for a Q&A sesh with Paige on May 11th at 8 p.m. EST. Check back for more details soon!