‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm…’

syllabi fall 2017American Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” I agree 100%! That’s why I’m so excited to be starting another semester working with my students at Rider University. This semester, I’m teaching “COM107 Writing for the Media” and “COM341 Publicity Methods.” I couldn’t be any more enthusiastic about meeting my students (although I’ve met a few before) and about moving ahead with the activities planned for Fall 2017.

It’s go time! Classes start this week, and my syllabi are complete and already shared on Canvas (Rider’s learning management system online). Enthusiastically, I anticipate Fall 2017 will be a GREAT semester! Bring it on!

Let Go of Your Anxieties About Writing! Just ‘K.I.S.S.’…

Learn to let go of any anxieties you might have about writing! In my 12 years of teaching writing courses, I’ve heard all the fears and excuses (and, honestly, sometimes I’ve experienced them, too). PURPLEKISS FINALWe share the same concerns and fears, we ask similar questions, and sometimes we don’t know what to write about, or how to get started. We’re always on alert, because “writer’s block” can happen at any time! Yes, anxieties related to the writing process are very common, so don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Recently, I taught a one-day “Basic Writing” refresher course for business people at a local community college. It was an enlightening experience for me to teach adult students who are already in the workforce, since I’m usually teaching “traditional” college students (ages 18-22) in my writing classes at Rider University. The main difference was that I was working with people who were NOT “digital natives” and these students represented different generations – mostly Generation X-ers, one Millennial, and a few Baby Boomers, too. And, even though our class took place in a computer lab, the students actually brought pens and notepads to the class, just like the good ol’ days! (Hmmm… “How different generations work and communicate today” might be a good topic for a future blog post?!… Stay tuned!) Yes, there were differences, but one similarity stood out: These students were like my other “traditional” students. They said they have anxieties related to the writing process, too. It’s a very common problem, but, seriously, it’s time to let go!

Here’s how: Just K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Students)! The K.I.S.S. principle for writing is easy to follow. It’s something I try to apply to all my writing – and to almost everything else that I do. If you’re ready to let go of your anxieties about writing, here are a few K.I.S.S. writing tips from my “Basic Writing” class presentation:

  • PREPARE to write. Create an outline. Do research, if necessary. Know your audience.
  • BRAINSTORM for ideas. Ask questions. Consider objectives. Be creative, when appropriate.
  • Pay attention to your writing STYLE and TONE. Be conversational, but professional. Be clear. Be yourself, and write naturally.

These are just a few tips, and I could go on and on about the K.I.S.S. principle for writing, but we’ll save some pointers for another day, or maybe another blog post. :)  If you’ve read this far, you might be interested in reading more about what others are saying about keeping the writing process as simple as possible, like The Power of Simple Writing by Jeff Bulas.

Writing – and almost everything else in life – is better when you K.I.S.S.! What do you think? Feel free to share your comments on this blog. Or tweet me @kathymagrino. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Introducing a new feature on this blog: WriteOn!

Each week, I’ll be posting a “WriteOn!” mini-post here on my blog where you’ll find two or three links to blogs, articles and academic research paper posts that I’ve discovered online during the previous week. WriteOn3-carrotHonestly, I’m not sure what the specific topics will be – I’m open to learning about anything and everything that can help keep us positive, focused, motivated and moving forward in today’s sometimes-crazy, often-distracting world.

I’ll be looking for writing that somehow catches my attention. (For those of you who already follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, you know my interests are wide-ranging and somewhat scattered: business, writing, teaching, learning, entrepreneurship, social media, communicating, etc.) In determining my picks for each week, I’ll be focused on sharing writing that’s somehow eye-opening, thought-provoking or just plain interesting – something that makes me (and hopefully you) think or react or take action.

Let’s face it: There’s so much good writing that’s going on right now, it’s impossible to read it all. Today, it seems we’re all writers – and we’re writing more than ever before: texting, emailing, blogging and expressing ourselves on social and online media… The reality is that humanity, as a whole, is communicating on a global scale and we’re linked together now more than we’ve ever been before.

This new blog feature – WriteOn! – will be my attempt to simplify and filter through all the writing and communicating that’s going on online today. I’m doing this for myself and for my like-minded friends and followers. Hope it helps us all! Look for my first WriteOn! post this Monday, January 5, 2015. Let me know what you think by commenting or tweeting to me. Thanks!

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

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!