31 Days of Inktober

By Jessica Ricks

October 23, 2019

I’ve wanted to do the full Inktober for years. What always happened is I would get through the first day or two and something would get in the way, I’d forget or I would just be lazy and I would end up not completing the entire challenge. ae7df4eb7f24951f5e16417c01c9e51a

This year I’ve made a commitment to finishing Inktober and I can proudly say I have done a drawing for each and every theme. That’s not to say I’ve done a drawing every day, I’m not perfect. I’d skip a few days and get behind but I always made it up. Now, with only eight days left, I am completely caught up and I definitely plan on finishing it.

Let me just say, it’s hard to do a drawing each day, especially with some of the themes. Some like “Ghost,” “Enchanted” and “Dragon” were easy but “Sling,” “Tread” and “Dizzy” were very difficult to come up with something creative, let alone anything at all. 

I went into Inktober with a few personal objectives though. One was to be creative with at least most of the themes. Sometimes that was hard when it was late at night or when I was trying to catch up, but some of them I can genuinely say I’m proud of like drawing the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti for “Ancient” or a head exploding with cosmic wonders for “Mindless.” I even turned out an impressive dragon and rendition of Daenerys Targaryen for Day 12’s “Dragon.”

Inktober Day 23: Ancient by Jessica Ricks

I also wanted to seriously dedicate time to my art. For the last maybe year or so, I haven’t been able to draw as much as I would have liked to. I found myself kind of moving away from drawing in that time. This month though, since I was able to eliminate my extra side hustles and other things that were causing me stress in my life, I actually had the time to draw. I don’t think I would have been able to finish Inktober otherwise, so it definitely came around at the best time for me.

Finally, I wanted to get better as an artist. This kind of goes hand in hand with the last point. Since I’ve kind of dropped away from the art world, I felt like I wasn’t as good as I used to be and I was not improving because I wasn’t practicing regularly. After drawing consistently for 23 days straight (as of today), I’ve gained more confidence in my art skills as well as became invigorated to keep improving. 

Now that you know my experience with Inktober, I want to know about yours. I encourage everyone who is participating in Inktober to send in some of your drawings so we can publish them on this website. Even if you haven’t been participating regularly if you want to take a shot at one of the Inktober themes and send it in for fun, please send it in.

Inktober Day 21: Treasure by Jessica Ricks

Another way I see Inktober is a community thing. Throughout the month, not only have I been drawing every day, I’ve been looking at what other artists are doing and liking and commenting on them to show support. We have a fantastic community here at Academy of the Heart and Mind and I’d love to see what you’re all coming up with too. 

The next challenge is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I plan on participating in that next month and I hope all of our novel writers here will join me.

The Symptoms Of Writer’s Block and Their Solutions

By Jessica Ricks

April 5, 2019

Writer’s block. Every writer has heard of it. Almost every writer has experienced it.

But I sometimes feel like writer’s block is a term that’s thrown around a little bit too loosely. Sure, you can have writer’s block, but in a lot of ways it can be a blanket term for a lot of other underlying reasons why you’re not writing.

I’ve been under yet another case of writer’s block myself lately. Last year, I was invigorated to write. I was writing short fiction left and right and submitting to journal after journal (read my last blog post to see how that ended up turning out for me. I was writing a ton of poetry. I had plans to complete an anthology of my own short stories and poems, and some personal art as well. This would have been the first book I published, unless I published my novel first. I was making immense progress on what was going to be a fantasy trilogy, and what I envisioned as the next Harry Potter.

And I still have plans to write all of these things. I want to finish them. I desperately want to see them in publication. Yet, despite all of my dreams of having my own work officially published, I just can’t find the motivation to start writing.

So you can call it writer’s block, but I think there are a lot of individuals factors that contribute to it. If you, like me, have fallen victim to writer’s block you may also be experiencing a few, or all, of these symptoms.

Lack of motivation is the classic definition of writer’s block. No matter what, for whatever reason, you just can’t find the motivation to pull out the computer (or phone or paper or stone tablet or whatever you write on) and make magic happen. The solution: Remind yourself why you love writing in the first place. Think of the joy that writing brought you when you weren’t in this slump and remember your long-term goals that you were so excited about.

Laziness is just a fact of life. I’ll admit that I’m super lazy. Yeah, I get things done, but the fact of the matter is I’m lazy and when I have other priorities that I put off. The solution: Set small goals for yourself. Don’t tell yourself that you have to get it all done at once, instead make it less overwhelming by doing a little bit of writing each day. And overall…just get up and do it!

Being too busy is another contributing factor of writer’s block. If you’re too busy with other things, then of course you’re not going to have the time to write and at the end of the day, when you’re actually able to settle down, you might just end up being too tired. The solution: Block out time for writing into your schedule. Set aside time from work or whatever else you may have going on to write. If you find that you simply don’t have the time with all the other things that are going on, then that’s okay, and plan to get back into writing in the future when everything starts to cool down.

Disorganized ideas. I’ve been in situations where I’m super excited about an idea I have, but I have no idea how I want to write it. I can’t get from Point A to Point C because I don’t know what happens during Point B in the middle. And sometimes that can be really discouraging. The solution: When you have a very complicated idea, it kind of helps to outline what you’re going to be writing about in the first place. It doesn’t even have to be complicated, just plan out a few short ideas that you can flesh out later when you’re ready to start writing for real and the process will be a lot easier and more enjoyable.

Fear stops people from doing a lot of things. I feel like a lot of creative people hit a wall in their work at some point or another because of fear. And it can be fear of a lot of things: fear of what others will think, fear that it won’t be as successful as you envisioned, or even fear of what you may think of the final product. The solution: the only way to conquer fear is to face it head on. It seems daunting at first, trust me. But if you really love what you’re doing, you cannot let your apprehensions stop you from accomplishing your goals.

Failures As A Writer

By Jessica Ricks

November 28, 2018

The life of a writer is really tough, I’m not gonna lie.

Throughout my time in college going through journalism and creative writing classes I was always told that it’s difficult to break into the world of writing. I was told to expect lots and lots of rejections. Almost every creative writing teacher I had said their work was turned away numerous time before it was accepted by a journal or publisher. During my last year of college I was one of the editors for my school’s literary magazine, Grub Street, and was faced with the difficult task of declining very good work that simply did not have a place in the limited space of a 200 page print journal so I’ve seen rejection from all sides, including having my own work rejected.

Having become interested in the world of short fiction during my last semester of my creative writing minor at the beginning of this year because literally almost everything we read was short fiction, I thought what a better way to establish a name for myself as a writer than send of some of my own short stories to various literary journals. I spent a lot of time this summer writing short stories and when I couldn’t stand to look at them anymore, I sent them to every journal I could find.

I got the last of my responses this week. Every. Single. One. Turned down my work.

I guess it’s easy to get caught up on something so heavy. I was always told I was a great writer. People I know well and strangers alike always told me that my writing was excellent, entertaining to read, and creative. I wanted to become hung up on the fact that the 10 journals that I submitted to didn’t accept me and that must mean there is something wrong with me but dwelling on the past doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

I don’t say all of this to complain or to call out the journals that didn’t take stories that I poured my heart and soul into. I say all of this to share my experience and tell those of you that might be facing the same thing that it’s okay.

Someone of the best writers were rejected at some point. One of my favorite writers JK Rowling, the author of a little book series you may all be aware of called Harry Potter, was rejected many times before Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone as it was originally named) was published. Look at her now.

Failure and rejection are a part of life and when it happens, all that’s left to do is pick up where you left off and try again.

When I Was A Young Writer

By Jessica Ricks

July 1, 2018

We’ve recently wrapped up our High School Contest and as I was reading the many stories and poems that were entered and corresponding with the excited winners, I couldn’t help but look back on when I was in high school.

It seems like such a long time ago even though I graduated high school a little over four years ago. I would write constantly and, looking back on them now, some were cringey and some were actually really good. I excelled in all of my English and creative writing classes because, quite honestly, I felt like those were the only subjects I was good at. I had big dreams of being a famous author some day like my favorite JK Rowling and Rick Riordan.

I didn’t know much about the literary world back then. I submitted to my first contest sometime in elementary school with a story called “Christmas Day from a Dog’s Perspective,” a story about Christmas from the perspective of my dog. I won and did a reading at a local library. When I was  a junior in high school I submitted to my first professional contest. I didn’t win that one, but just the fact that someone was reading my work was enough for me.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I really discovered the world of literary journals and contests and how to get my name out there as an author. I wish I had known more about the New Yorker and The Virginia Quarterly Review and a number of other literary journals big and small when I was in high school. Whether they would have wanted to publish my work or not, just the ability to put my endless stories out there would have been a blessing.

The fact that we were able to give that to high schoolers during this months contest was truly an amazing feeling. I put myself in their shoes from the beginning of the year when we started emailing EVERY high school in our state, to when the kids were sending in their stories with their bios of their limited experience, to emailing the winners and the excited replies we got.

I hope to make this contest a staple of our website. I think it’s so important to foster young talent. I want to let the kids that enter our contest know that they can do this, that their dreams of being a famous author are within their reach as long as they keep working hard.

Why We Write…

By Jessica Ricks

January 4, 2018

I’ve spoken to a lot of writers and taken a lot of writing classes and one way or another the same question is eventually asked: “Why do you write?”

There have been a lot of different answers to this question. People write to express feelings. They write to get ideas out of their mind. They want to make statements about the world. It’s a way to interpret the world around them. To put words to things that are happening around them that they cannot control. To make sense of an event that happened in their life. They love words, they love settings, they love characters. They want to create a world beyond our wildest imaginations.

Whenever you ask someone why they write, you’re asking them why the live and how they survive this world we live in.

I don’t know why our writers here at Academy of the Heart and Mind write. It could be all of the above reasons or it could be something completely different. All I know is that it is a privilege to us for them to share that reason here.


Half a Year Later

By Thomas Page

John has just told me we’ve been running Academy of the Heart and Mind for six months. Wow, that’s kind of a long time. How do you celebrate a website milestone? Is it like a birthday? Do I need to buy it a present? Do we get cake? I would definitely like some cake.

Kidding aside, working on this website since May has been an interesting and formative experience. I’ve been able to try out different forms and send them, much like the birds which frequent my work, out of “the nest” to see if they resonate with other people. Interestingly enough, poetry was the last thing I would expect if I were to talk to a past version of myself about what I’m writing today. I’m sure the twelve-year-old Tommy would have said I was silly for writing poems for the internet.

Well, little Tommy, adults are silly people.

I would like to thank John and Jessica for coming up with the website as a place to test my hair-brained ideas. I would like to thank my family, especially my mom, my dad, and my sister for being very nice and read what I’m daring to call art. I know there’s some poem or story you’ve read that you’ve been nice enough to say was “good.” You all have been very supportive and I’m able to grow as a writer and poet.

I also need to thank the readers of this website who, for some reason, have taken an interest in what I’m writing. I appreciate each and every one of you all.

I would like to welcome all of the artists who have joined the Academy family. I enjoy reading / seeing your work. I’m happy that the website is hosting so many talented artists. I’m excited to see what’s to come. I know John and Jessica have a lot of exciting things planned for the future.

Here’s to another half year!

There better be some cake, John!

Thomas Page

Six Months in

by John Page

Hi, Everyone! John here. Hope you are enjoying the Academyoftheheartandmind. I was hoping to create a place where people who had some story, art or idea could come and get exposure for their work. It’s been a very exciting six months and we have gone very far. Thank you everyone who has contributed work for our site. You guys are awesome and I really appreciate it. A special shoutout to Thomas Page and Jessica Ricks for proving help, material and support. You guys are great and you are the best team I could ask for. Thank you very much every who reads and supports us. Shoutout to my mom and dad especially. Also thanks Ari for also being helpful. You guys are awesome and always so supportive.

For the next six months we will keep doing what we are doing and start running contests. If you want to win, write! Jessica and I are also working on a full length book and we will finish it next year, hopefully.

That’s all I got for know. Thank you everyone and keep up the good work. Your heart and mind will thank you.

– John Page

The Best Thing About Creating a Literary Magazine

November 11, 2017

For a long time I wanted to be involved in a publication. For me that meant writing and submitting content, and maybe a bit of editing here and there. When John brought up the idea to me of creating our own literary magazine, I thought it would be really cool and we went for it.

Honestly, we really didn’t k own what we were doing at first. We still kind of don’t. Everton I knew about publishing came from my journalism and English classes, but creating a real publication and trying to market it so that people will actually read it is so much different than a teacher walking you through a project that no one will see.

We out in a lot of work to get to this point and I’m amazed by how well Academy of the Heart and Mind is doinf. We’ve gotten more submissions, page views, and compliments than I ever would have thought we would get and this is just the beginning. The thought of where we’ll be in a month or even this time next year is exciting. It’s something that we can be proud of that we created entirely on our own.

The most rewarding thing about it for me is reading all of the submissions that we get. We’ve gotten some really wonderful work from some very talented people who are determined to make it in the literary world.

As anjournalist, I’ve had my work published in a few different out cations and websites, so I know how exciting it is to see your name in orint, or posted on  someone’s social media, or have someone come up to you and tell you that tether read your work and that they were impressed by it and that they related to it.

For writers, that’s one of the best feelings that you can have so it’s important to me to give that experience to as many people as I can. So far, Academy of the Heart and Mind has accomplished just that. I’m hoping that in the coming months we can get as many submissions and grow our publication into a household name.

—Jessica, co-founder


Let’s Get The Word Out!

We founded Academy of the Heart and Mind this summer because we’re passionate about writing and know that there are so many people in the world who share that passion. There are a lot of cool stories out there and we want to help share them with the world.

Our dream is to have tons of submissions so that we have something new to post every day. That’s why we need your help! Spread the word about us. Post on social media. Tell your friend that’s a brilliant writer or a savvy artist.

Remember to send all submissions to academyoftheheartandmind@gmail.com. Our social medias are Academy Of The Heart and Mind on Facebook and @AcdmyHeartnMind on Twitter.

Thanks for all the support while we’re getting started. We couldn’t do it without you!

The cat's confused

Our cat Sangchu says thank you!



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