Bring On Your ‘Writing Mojo’!

The summer session of my COM107-Writing for the Media class at Rider University starts today. It’s a short term (only 6 weeks). Packing a full semester into 6 weeks isn’t easy, but we’ll be starting off with a bang! Right away, we’ll be diving in and discovering ways to “bring on our writing mojo” — that magical feeling when the words just seem to endlessly and easily flow from our brain to our fingertips as we write.  writing mojo

Find Your Writing Mojo

From time to time, we all need a little help to overcome “writer’s block” or to just get started on a writing project. When we’re “blocked” or we’re finding it difficult to focus on our writing efforts, we need to tap into our “writing mojo” to get things done.

Here’s some advice — excerpts from my first class assignment, “Bring On Your Writing Mojo!”:

What inspires you to write?… Do you like to write?… Do you ever suffer from “writer’s block”?… Let’s share our personal thoughts and ideas about the writing process and discuss ways we can bring on our “writing mojo.” Also, please read the following blog posts to discover some of the ways writers become motivated and get ready to write:

You also might want to do some additional research on your own…

The assignment: Write one or two paragraphs answering the following questions:

  • Do you like to write?
  • Why or why not?
  • If you do like to write, what do you like to write about, or what type of writing do you enjoy the most?
  • After hearing and reading about what motivates people to write, what idea(s) or suggestion(s) do you believe would be the most helpful to you to help you “bring on your writing mojo”? Tell us why.

Share Your Ideas…

My students will be writing their thoughts in a private discussion forum on Canvas, but feel free to share your thoughts and write your comments on this blog. I’ll respond to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading — and good luck bringing on your “writing mojo”! :)

Does ‘Social Networking’ Continue After We Die?

Move over, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks! “The other side” is being touted as “the original social network”… and this presents an opportunity to view social networking and social media in a whole new way. sunburst

In an interview on the Hay House World Summit website, New York Times best-selling author and world-renowned psychic medium John Edward compares our relationships with loved ones who have died and “crossed over to the other side” to our social networking habits and relationships on the Internet. 

Mr. Edward says, “The way we’re tethered by energy on the Internet with Facebook” — how we’re aware of what’s going on in our friends’ lives and how we’re connected — is similar to how we’re connected and “tethered” to the people we love after we die. He adds, “The other side is really the original social network, and we’re tethered by love.”

I’ve heard and seen a lot of definitions and descriptions related to social networking and social media, through my work teaching writing and communication classes and through my own experience with social media. But John Edward’s analogy is different and it taps into our emotions.

The next time I update my status on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll be thinking about how my Dad checks in on my family’s “social network” from the other side to see how we’re all doing. For me, that’s a very comforting thought.

Photo by whologwhy via Flickr 

Are you getting ready to write?

At the start of my writing classes each semester we review how people prepare themselves to write. Everyone does this differently, of course, so, in addition to my own experiences, I like to share advice from different sources. Here’s a timely poster and blog post by Demian Farnworth from www.copyblogger.com that arrived in my email inbox today:
10 Rules for Writing First Drafts
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

I’ll be sharing it with my writing students in class next week. (Thanks, Demian!)

Rebuilding. So, Please Stay Tuned…

The sounds of the constant hammering going on around the corner from me this morning as neighbors build a new home has reminded me that I needed to share the news that this blog will no longer be silent, as it has been for the past eight months. construction2We’re rebuilding and fine-tuning a few things here at The Write Way — including this blog.

September — the start of the fall semester at Rider University – is the perfect time for a fresh start, don’t you think? Please stay tuned. In the coming months, I’ll be sharing information about communication media, creating and writing blogs, careers in the communication professions, and thoughts and ideas about the writing process, in general. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you again in September! :)

 

Inspiration From Everyone, Everywhere

Inspiration is a funny thing: You never know where it’s going to come from, or when it’s going to happen.

The last few weeks have been challenging for everyone impacted by a storm named Sandy, with its wild winds and overwhelming surge. My family was very fortunate. Yes, we were displaced for a few weeks, but that’s nothing compared to what was experienced by the people whose homes were flooded or washed away. I can only imagine how they’re feeling. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve driven by giant mounds of debris on the roads around me, and I’ve watched the news reports on TV, I’ve been inspired by the strength and bravery of people, in general. I’m inspired by their ability to look ahead to the future, their capacity to hold onto dreams. Everyone seems to have the determination to push forward and rebuild, despite the challenges they’re facing.

I’ve also been inspired by my students this semester. This week, they presented their final projects: “Zen-like” presentations of their plans for the future. Together, we looked ahead to 2022 and talked about our hopes and dreams. (I’m smiling as I’m writing this, remembering the wide variety of scenarios they envision… Most predictions are very positive and happy, except for the “zombie apocalypse” outlined by one student! :) )

This semester was also the first semester where I asked my students to create their own WordPress blogs. (See my previous blog post.) Yes, I was truly inspired by the way many of my students dedicated so much time and effort in creating and writing their blogs. But, I was also inspired by their overall enthusiasm for the project and the messages they conveyed. I’m inspired by their plans and dreams — and their determination to make these dreams come true.

So, on that note, I’m linking you to Crissy Glasser’s blog (with her permission). Listen to the song Crissy shares at the end of her post: “Dream Catcher” by the band Set It Off. I’m inspired by the messages in the song’s lyrics… I hope you’re inspired by the song’s messages too! “Cast your net… cast it out…”

Until next time, as Set It Off says, “Please believe you’ll be a dream catcher!” :)

Photo credit: Jack Newton – jdn – via Flickr/Creative Commons

Digital Natives (My Students) Are Natural Bloggers!

There’s a lot of talk these days about “digital natives” (a.k.a. “Generation Y” — people born between 1982 and 2002). Some of the talk is negative, but, I have a lot of great things to say about digital natives from my experience teaching in the college classroom. Overall, they’re friendly, playful and competitive — and they definitely love the gamification elements I include in some of my classes. But, this semester, I’ve learned something new about digital natives: They’re natural bloggers!

I’m teaching writing classes (no gamification this semester), and, for the first time, I asked each of my students to create/write a blog about anything they want to write about. They’re using WordPress (like I do) to publish to their posts. So far, I’ve graded the first of four blog post assignments due this semester, and I’ve been WOWED by the results!

I’m really not surprised by my students’ blogging talent… I guess growing up with digital technology in your hands (literally) makes you more at ease hitting that “publish” button when you blog/write?! Digital natives are totally at ease communicating through digital technology.

My students are natural bloggers, and I’ve got proof! :) I’ve included a few links below to show you some of their blogs. (The links are shared with my students’ permission, of course.) After you read their blogs, let me know if you agree with me. Do you think digital natives are natural bloggers too? Please tell us by commenting here or by tweeting me @kathymagrino. Thanks!

Six Pixels of Separation – A Study Guide – (Part 2)

This is the second part of the study guide I’ve pulled together to help you connect with the main concepts Mitch Joel writes about in his book, Six Pixels of Separation. (This study guide was created for my COM106 students at Rider University. In our class, we will be having a quiz on Chapters 7-10 of the book next week.)

Chapter 7:  You Are Media

Understand key concepts/terms/people from this chapter:  personal brand, digital footprint, Robert Scoble, Chris Brogan

“In a world of Six Pixels of Separation, it is not about how your business connects and communicates in online channels, it’s about how you (or your employees) as an individual build, nurture, and share personal brands. A company is no longer made up of anonymous people building one brand; rather, it is made up of many personal brands that are telling your one corporate-brand story in their own, personal, ways.” (p.126)

“Build a 3D Personal Brand:

  1. Give abundantly…
  2. Help others…
  3. Build relationships…” (pp.134-135)

Chapter 8: From Mass Media to Mass Content

Understand key concepts/terms from this chapter: content, word-of-mouth

“There are really only four types of content you can create:

  1.   Text…
  2.   Images…
  3.   Audio…
  4.   Video…”

“The tone, flow and vibe you give off in your content will reveal who the ‘real company’ is [or who you are]. This is, specifically, why blogs are so popular: they’re the human voice behind it all.” (p. 152)

“Great content = great word-of-mouth.” (p. 159)

- Know the “Six General Rules for a Healthy Blog” (p. 160)

Chapter 9: Digital Darwinism

“Building community has many more similarities to dating than you might imagine. So if your blog, podcast, or Twitter is getting no traction, more often than not it’s simply not what your customers [readers] are looking for and, to be blunt, they’re just not that into you.” (p. 164)

“How do you build trust once you begin receiving attention? By using the Web in a very human way. This falls into two major categories: 1. Be Helpful… 2. Be Sincere…” (pp. 167-168)

Chapter 10: From Mass Media to “Me” Media

Understand key concepts/terms/people from this chapter:  Garr Reynolds, Seth Godin, cloud, niche

“Always be experimenting… The win is not in creating something that appeals to the masses. Your personal win will be leveraging the power of a very specific and unique niche that you can serve, protect, and call your own. Your personal brand builds your business. You find your own ‘mass’ in your niches.” (p. 195)

Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel – A Study Guide (Part 1)

Over the next few weeks, we’re reading Mitch Joel‘s Six Pixels of Separation in my writing classes at Rider University. The following post is Part 1 of a two-part study guide I’ve pulled together for my students. Next week, I’ll be posting Part 2 here, as well. If you’re interested in learning more about digital/online communication and marketing, I think you’ll love this book as much as I do. :)

Here’s the study guide:

I’ve written this study guide to help you connect with the main concepts Mitch Joel writes about in his book, Six Pixels of Separation. I hope Mitch’s book and this guide help you gain:

  • a better understanding of the digital marketing/communications era we live in today
  • and an appreciation of just how much online communication has transformed our world, in general.

My goal in asking you to read this book (and one of Mitch’s goals in writing the book) is to help you to see the power offered by digital communications and the online world, a world where distance is not an issue, and a world where we are easily connected to each other asynchronously and in real time.

This study guide was created for my COM106 students. In our class, there will be two quizzes on Six Pixels of Separation:

  • QUIZ #1 on September 24th will cover the Introduction and Chapters 1-6. (Review Part 1 of this study guide to prepare for Quiz #1.)
  • QUIZ #2 on October 1st will cover Chapters 7-14. (Review Part 2 of this study guide to prepare for Quiz #2.)

The book’s Introduction:

Don’t skip reading the introduction because it gives us the opportunity to learn how this book came about, and to see how successful we can be as writers/bloggers today because of online communication channels (blogs, social media, etc.). Mitch writes, “All of my past and current personal successes in life, from the growth of Twist Image to the mass media attention to the publishing deal that put this book in your hands, has been because of these online channels…”(p. xi) According to Mitch (and I agree with him), the digital communication channels offer many opportunities to us. They’re not the “time suck” that many people accuse them of being…

Chapter 1: I Google You… Just Like You Google Me

Understand key concepts/terms from this chapter: transparency, personal branding, community, online community, networking, social media, blogging.

Being able to publish to the world for free is a big (huge) deal… what we’re really seeing is an entirely new marketing and communications channel emerge where brands are all treated equally (sometimes equally badly, sometimes equally well)… We’re seeing a new world where people are building huge networks of connections that foster community, conversation and commerce.”

Review the “Six Social Needs” (pp. 19-20). Among them: “Online social networks provide people with the ultimate tool for defining and redefining themselves, as evidenced in profile pages on Facebook…” – research findings originally from Center for Media Research e-newsletter (December 2007).

Chapter 2: The Trust Economy

Understand key concepts/terms from this chapter: trust economy, participatory culture, authenticity, channels, permission, content, blog, micro-blog, podcast, online social network, sharing sites, user-generated content, wiki, widgets, consistency

“When you engage in a conversation and treat your consumers with respect and as your peers, magical things will happen.” (p. 26)

“You are in the business of building your own trust economy as part of your core values and foundation.” (p. 27)

“The two pillars for building your business through the digital channels will be: Permission… Content…” (p. 27)

“Speak like a human being, not like a press release.” (pp. 42-43)

Chapter 3: Entrepreneurship

In this chapter, focus on pages 52-53 where Mitch lists the qualities of a great website.

Chapter 4: Faith-Based Initiatives, Viral Expansion Loops and the Long Road

Understand key concepts/terms from this chapter: online communities, engagement, participation

(This chapter contains a lot of conceptual information. Read it for your own benefit, but you won’t be quizzed on any details from this chapter.)

Chapter 5: Know Control

Understand key concepts/terms from this chapter: blogging, subject-matter experts, Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post

When blogging first made its debut (around 2000), most journalists and mass media people denounced it… Around 2004 more and more newspapers began quoting bloggers as subject-matter experts… Suddenly, the words of bloggers carried as much weight as (and sometimes more than) those of the mainstream media.” (p. 90)

“Your company’s newest challenge is speed – how fast do you move?… In a world of publishing platforms like YouTube and Twitter where the consumer is in (and sometimes out of) control of creating content, that’s getting harder and harder to do.” (p. 93)

“Get comfortable with being a little uncomfortable. The new business game is not about control. It’s about the volume of voices…” (p. 95)

“Resign your privacy. Yes, you’re naked on the Internet… The general rules of thumb are: Be smart, be very self-aware, and always think about the content your are creating and putting out there as a lasting record of yourself. (p. 98)

“It’s not just about the Internet: Think mobile too.” (p. 103)

Chapter 6: The Real World

(This chapter has a lot of interesting information about “unconferences” and meet-ups… I think the key message you should take away from this chapter (at this point in your lives) is that there will always be value in meeting face-to-face with other people. Communication in the online channels should never replace in-person communication.)

###

Part 2 of this study guide will be published on this blog next week. If you have any questions or want to discuss some of the concepts Mitch Joel writes about in Six Pixels of Separation, please comment here. Thanks!

Additional resources:

Are Six Pixels of Separation All That Keeps Us Apart? by Bryan Eisenberg, published September 8th, 2009 – http://www.grokdotcom.com/2009/09/08/are-six-pixels-of-separation-all-that-keeps-us-apart/

A Summary of Six Pixels of Separation from PolarUnlimited.com -http://www.polarunlimited.com/2009/09/business-book-summary-18-six-pixels-of-separation-by-mitch-joel/

Six Pixels of Separation – The Blog by Mitch Joel: http://www.twistimage.com/blog/

 

Different ways we get ready to write (and writing is a creative process)

This week, my writing classes are exploring the different ways we get ready to write. I’ve written my thoughts about this in previous blog posts, including this blog post from earlier this year: Getting Ready to Write (in 2012). But, I’d like to reinforce this additional message: Whatever you’re writing, whether it’s an advertising campaign, poem, fiction, research paper, blog post, etc., writing is a CREATIVE PROCESS. Business writing and creative writing both require the “creative juices” in our bodies to be flowing in abundance. So, whenever we’re getting ready to write, it’s important to stir up our creativity!

One way to do this is through mind mapping. Here’s an infographic I found on Pinterest that shows how mind mapping can work:

 

Have you tried mind mapping? Or maybe you prefer other ways to get your creative juices flowing and to get ready to write? Please share the ways you get ready to write by commenting on this post. Thanks for reading and sharing! — KM

Another starting point

The start of a new semester always brings back good childhood memories of back-to-school time — one of my favorite times of the year (and my brothers have always teased me about this, and my son has joined in with them now, too!).

I think I’ve always enjoyed back-to-school time because it’s a starting point. A new beginning. A chance for a fresh start. To me, a starting point like the start of a new semester opens the door to new opportunities, and it’s a reminder to close the door on the past, to look ahead, and to keep moving forward. A starting point represents hopes, dreams and possibilities.

I’m teaching two classes of COM106 Writing for the Communication Professions at Rider University. We’ll be busy in my classes this semester, but, I’m envisioning lots of opportunities to have some fun, too!  I’ll be learning more about my students’ plans for the future, and I’ll be trying to help them get a good start on their career paths.

Hopes. Dreams. Possibilities. That’s what I’m looking forward to during the next few months in my classes. I’ll be sharing some of our experiences here in my blog this semester, so please stay tuned! And please comment below to let me know if you also like back-to-school time, like I do. I’m interested in hearing why — and I’ll be sure to share your reasons with my son and brothers, too! ;)

‘Til next time, take care!