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!

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

Playing and Learning Always Work Well Together

Last night, my Mass Media class at Rider U. played the “I Love Mass Media” game — a version of “charades” that I first used in the classroom last year. Once again this year, we had a great time acting out key mass communication terms and the names of movies, books, newspapers, magazines and people in the news. :)

Congratulations to “Team Purple” for winning the entire challenge! And “Team Yellow’s” endurance throughout the initial and final rounds was admirable, so “congrats” go out to you, too!

Actually, through my eyes, everyone in our class was a “winner” last night — and I thank you for helping to make the learning process fun! ;)

Image courtesy of Jetske19 via Flickr/Creative Commons

Leaping over February on this Blog ;)

It’s been over a month since I last posted to this blog… Time flies when you’re having fun! I’ve been so busy the past few weeks (I’m not complaining) working with my clients and students, and specifically teaching about writing and writing blogs, I haven’t had enough time to write my own posts here. Sorry!

I realize it’s time to work on my time-management skills. I just picked up Peter Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done. I hope to read the book over the next few days and to apply what I learn — soon! I will keep you posted. In the meantime, I hope you had a great February and let’s march on forward to a new month… :)

Kathy Magrino

Getting Ready to Write (in 2012)

We’re off to a great start in my Spring 2012 classes at Rider University! As I do every semester, I’ll be sharing this post with the students in my COM107 Persuasive Writing for the Media class and asking for their comments. I’ve made a few modifications to the post for 2012, taking into account the changing media world…

How do you get ready to write? Whatever I’m writing, these are the steps I take to motivate myself and to get the “creative juices” flowing. Sometimes, I only need to do one or two of the steps to get ready… Other times, I need to do it all! ;-) After you read what I do, please tell us what you do to get ready to write by sharing your comments below. Thank you!

1. Clear Your Head — and Your Workspace — to Get Organized

To get started on any writing project, I need to focus on the project — not on everything else going on in my life. First, I make a handwritten list of things I need to do that aren’t related to the writing project and tuck the list away to be looked at later. (I believe that when I put a pen in my hand and write on a piece paper the activity “triggers” some creative juices in my brain…) Then I make another list — or an outline — for the project I need to do right then and there. In my workspace, I move piles of work out of my view so they don’t distract me, which brings us to the next step…

2. Shut Down Distractions
I turn off my phone or put it on vibrate. I sign off all social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Then I  close the browser window for my email account on my laptop. If it’s on, I turn off the news/talk radio (sometimes music is okay — it depends on my mood…) and I turn off my TV. I can’t be distracted if I really want to focus on my writing.

3. Do Something Else First — Something You Enjoy Doing
For me, a walk on the beach (in warmer months) or preparing a favorite recipe can inspire me to “tackle” a writing project. Or maybe I’ll watch a TV show I’ve saved on my DVR. What inspires you? Do that first, then sit down and write, write, write!

4. Time Yourself — and Don’t Forget to Give Yourself a Break (or Two)
Sometimes I actually set a real timer and write for 20 or 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, I get up and “reward” myself by getting a snack or taking a short break. If I’m really on a writing streak, I’ll reset the timer and keep on writing… I think doing this makes me feel better because it’s a way to “control” the process.

5. Focus on Your Readers/Audience and Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Think about your readers or audience. Who will be reading or hearing the words you’re writing? What do they like or dislike? How can you grab — and keep — their attention? Successful writing projects are written for specific audiences. I sometimes pretend I’m having a conversation with my readers, like I’m doing right now. I hope you’ll tell me what you think by responding to this blog post so we can continue the conversation!

Well, these steps are the ones I take when I’m getting ready to write. However, we all have different ways of doing things… Here are some tips from Janis Butler Holm: Getting Ready to Write: Rituals vs. Distractions.

What do YOU do to get ready to write? Please share your tips and ideas here.

Until next time, take care, and thanks for reading (and hopefully responding)! ;-)

Kathy Magrino

Photo: Haemin Rhee via Flickr, Creative Commons

Inspiring Ideas from My PR Students…

Creative themes, beautiful logos, fundraising ideas, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, PSAs and more … I was so impressed by my students’ final team project presentations in our COM240 Public Relations class this week!  The ideas they presented were designed to help raise awareness about thyroid cancer.

This was a “real world” assignment, developed with the help of a longtime friend and former co-worker who is winning the battle against thyroid cancer and inspiring all of us with her commitment to helping others who are tackling this disease.

In addition to being graded, the team projects are being “judged”, and winners will be picked… But, in my eyes, my students are all “winners” who successfully rose to the challenge of generating PR ideas for a great cause. Their hard work and commitment is very inspiring! Looking ahead, I think several of the ideas presented this week will come to life and make an impact… I promise to keep you posted!

Best,

Kathy Magrino

Giving Thanks

As we gear up for Thanksgiving and the holidays, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily activities. Our semester at Rider University is winding down (already!). I’m so grateful for the students I’ve had the pleasure and honor to work with this semester. Some were new acquaintances in September, but many were “repeat students.” Both classes (COM106 Writing for the Communication Professions and COM240 Public Relations) have been productive and fun — for me, at least! :-)

In my writing class, we’re closing the semester by exploring career opportunities. We’re creating LinkedIn profiles and discovering new ways to find jobs in a very difficult job market.

In my public relations class, we’re working on developing public relations strategies and campaigns to raise awareness about thyroid cancer. Yes, it’s a serious topic, but my students seem to be tackling this project with a lot of enthusiasm and creativity, and I’m confident in their abilities to develop ideas that can make a real difference in the “real world.” ;-) I’m looking forward to the presentations of their ideas during the first week of December… I will keep you posted!

I’m thankful for many things right now, including you. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and sharing your ideas and comments with me here — and on Twitter @kathymagrino — throughout the year!

Sincerely,

Kathy Magrino

Cupcakes and Creativity!

Shelley Tibbetts (@ShelleyTibbetts), a former student of mine, visited my COM240 Public Relations class this week to speak to my students about a non-profit organization she’s currently working for, She’s The First. She’s The First was founded by Shelley’s sister, Tammy (@TammyTibbetts) two years ago, and it was created to promote girls’ education in developing countries.

She’s The First is coordinating an international fundraiser — a “Tie-Dye Cupcake Bake Sale” — during the first week of November, and I’m happy to say that I’m working with a group of students from my class to plan and host a cupcake bake sale at Rider University.

This is an excellent opportunity for my students to “learn by doing”! It’s public relations in action! (And event planning… and promotion… and publicity… and media relations…)

We had our first “event planning” meeting earlier today and I was wowed by the creative ideas and the energy of my students. I can’t wait to see how this turns out — and I plan to keep you posted as we move forward. In the meantime, if you have any ideas, or would like to help us help a good cause, let me know. You can comment here on my blog, or tweet me @kathymagrino. Thanks — and I hope to hear from you soon!

Kathy Magrino