Interview: Hailey Rodgers on her book "See me" and tips for young writers
Youth for Positive Change had the privilege of talking to author Hailey Rodgers about her book "See Me" and tips for young writers.
We are so pleased that you agreed to talk to us about your book and all things writing today! For those who don’t know, could you explain what your book is about?
See Me is about the importance of living authentically as a young adult. While young adults tend to talk about authenticity, it can actually be the hardest time in your life to feel confident in yourself. This book is a tool to help you stay true to who you are amidst the pressure to conform to societal norms. It aims to inspire young adults through guiding principles and the incredible stories of others who comprehend the value and consistently work to live an authentic life.
Your book aims to inspire young people to live an authentic life. Yet we’re so bombarded today with differing messages about what it is to live a “true” life, how do we find what’s truly authentic for us?
I believe there are so many elements within the answer of this question. My book actually aims to address this question through 30 guiding principles but I can definitely give a summarized answer.
The first thing we must do in order to find what is truly authentic for us is to trek into our inner core and become self-aware. Self-awareness will allow you to take an inventory of whether or not you have been masking who you are around others and whether or not you feel happy or successful. It is about taking an inventory of where you are at with your goals and dreams. If you don’t feel happy and you’ve lost touch with your goals and dreams, it is because you have not stayed true to who you are. When you answer these questions, it is up to you to choose whether or not you will lead an authentic life. But it is also important to know that anyone and everyone can be authentic. Most people, however, wait a long time to be who they truly are and pursue their goals and dreams. Will you (as a young adult) choose to lead by example?
Furthermore, it is also about choosing to surround yourself with your own niche group of people who are authentic and embrace who you truly are. Of course, you must also be willing to embrace others’ differences and to encourage a community of authentic living. As soon as conventionality is no longer normalized, we can all live liberating and authentic lives.
As well, it is about allocating time to the things that fill you with joy and purpose. It is about investing in yourself, despite how challenging it may be, so that you can conquer your dreams in the future.
To find what is truly authentic for us we also need to love our whole selves. In other words, do not limit yourself to just loving your strengths and achievements; love your weaknesses too, for they ultimately shape who you are. Being grateful for this incredible and unique life you have been gifted will propel you to utilize your time on this planet in a way that allows you to stay true to who you are.
Finally, it is making that choice to become the leader of your own life. It is choosing to go on an adventure of self-discovery, to follow your dreams and goals, and to learn more about parts of yourself you have yet to explore. Following your own compass will ultimately direct you to the destination where you are meant to be.
Who are some of your artistic/writing influences?
I became really intrigued by the self-help genre when I read Sarah Knight’s book, You Do You. Her book also promoted the whole idea of authentic living. I have read a few self-help books since such as You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and You Are Awesome by Niel Pasricha. I love reading these books because they both allow me to learn new tools and concepts I can apply in my life, and motivate me to keep writing. I always feel inspired after reading a self-help book so it motivates me to inspire others in the same way. I also enjoy memoirs. I love storytelling (that’s why I use stories to convey many principles in my book). The most recent memoir I read was Know My Name by Chanel Miller which was a phenomenal book. I hope to write a memoir some day.
What are some practical tips you’d give to young writers who want to become writers but don’t know where to start?
Here are 8 tips. One, the BEST way to learn how to write is to READ! Choose topics that intrigue you and read about them. For example, I am interested in the concept of self-confidence so I read articles (that are usually not long) about this topic. By doing this my vocabulary expands and I learn how to write effective sentences. Additionally, as I read more about self-confidence (or whatever topic I am interested in) I begin to form opinions about that topic. The most effective articles or pieces are those that have a completely unique opinion about a certain topic. So, as soon as you have an opinion, get out your pen and paper and get writing.
Two, just START. It does ’t matter if you write the best introduction of all time right at the very beginning. Honestly, whenever I start writing, usually the first thing I put down on paper does not get included in the final piece. Starting is simply a way for you to generate ideas. I usually use jot notes, then I turn those jot notes into an outline, and then I draft the final piece, and then I edit it.
Three, stop making excuses. People sometimes say I can’t write anything because I have writer’s block . I do not believe anyone can truly have writer’s block. I believe people use writer's block in place of being scared to write. People are really afraid to write something, especially if it’s not perfect the first time (I’ve experienced this myself). So rather than starting, they say they have writer’s block. The only way to overcome this self-imposed limitation is to just START. Pick up your pen and just write something even if it makes no sense or may be taken out later. As soon as you start, it gets easier as you continue to write. As soon as you get it down on paper, then the magic will happen.
Four, don’t force it. The time allocated to researching, brainstorming, drafting, and editing varies with every piece. Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes and sometimes it takes me over a week. I think it is important to recognize that creativity comes in bursts. Do not waste your time overthinking your idea. Sometimes, it’s better to start it and then leave it for a few days because you often come back refreshed and ready to write.
Five, be consistent. Although this may appear to contradict tip #3, it is important to note that writing (particularly a book) takes a lot of time and work. The word “consistency” is a little bit different for me. When I wrote my book, I had to consistently show up every single day to work on my book. Now, whether that be 20 minutes or 12 hours, it always varied. It is showing up to your work consistently that will allow you to thrive.
Six, understand that the more you write, the better you will be at it. I often laugh when I read my first article I ever published online (for a platform called Her Campus) and compare it to pieces I recently wrote. My writing has improved drastically over the past two years and it was all mostly self-taught. The more your practice writing the better you will get at it. I think that the most beautiful thing about craft is that you will constantly grow and improve with it.
Seven, embrace peer editing. I truly believe that an ingenious piece of work doesn’t come through writing a story, rather it’s through the constant editing and revising that makes a writer’s work flourish. Peer editing can be daunting for some, however the more criticism you get, the better. When I first got feedback, it stung a little, but my writing improved exponentially with peer editing. You need to find someone who you are acquainted with who will give you honest feedback. Do not ask your parents. Parents will tell you what you want to hear. While great at the time, it is not actually helping you. Someone who is honest will help you despite how bitter tasting it will be at first. You do get used to it.
Finally, make sure you are passionate about writing and what you are writing about! This is the number one tip I can give you. Passion is the secret ingredient to thrive in the world of craft. Do not force yourself to do something you do not want to do. Do it because you love writing and what you are writing about.
What is the biggest obstacle you faced when writing your book, and what advice would you give to young writers facing the same issue?
The fear of being judged. Sometimes when I was writing I would limit myself because I was afraid of what my readers would think of me. This was something I had faced for the first few months of my writing journey. However, near the end of finalizing my manuscript I realized that if I did not share everything that makes me who I am and all my experiences, beliefs, and values surrounding it, then I would be contradicting the main message of my book: be fearlessly authentic. So, I stopped holding myself back and wrote everything that makes me, me.
I knew that there were still going to be people judging my work, whether it be the tone of the book, opinions on topics, etc. But I knew in my heart that there would be more people supporting me than judging me. Not only supporting me, but feeling my work benefited them or helped them in some way. My main goal with my book was to help one, single person. I believe (based on reviews) I have helped many.
When you are writing, and this sense of fear of being judged starts impacting your work, think about how many people would miss out on the value of your work if it was never published. Think about how many people need your help and that your words can positively impact many. You will have more supporters and people benefited than those who do not support you. Remind yourself that writing is a brave endeavour and that you should be proud of your work. Finally, ask yourself, “Is preventing one person’s judgement worth the sacrifice of helping many people?” It’s up to you to answer this question.
Finally, where can we buy your book?
See Me is available on Amazon (both in paperback and eBook format).
BIOGRAPHY: Hailey Rodgers is a 20 year-old writer currently in her third year at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Hailey is the author of the book See Me now available on Amazon to buy! For more info on Hailey visit haileyrodgers.com