Bring on Your Writing Mojo in 2020

We’re off to a great start in my Spring 2020 classes at Kean University and Rider University! This semester, I’ll be sharing this post with my Kean COMM4620 Public Relations Writing students and my Rider COM341 Publicity Methods students as part of an assignment — it’s a repost (including updates) of a previous post from my blog. 

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!

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 the TV, if it’s on. 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, but sometimes in winter) or preparing a favorite recipe can inspire me to “tackle” a writing project. What do you enjoy doing?… 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/Your 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.

Well, these steps are the ones I take when I’m getting ready to write. However, we all have different ways of doing things… I hope you’ll tell me what you think by responding to this blog post so we can continue the conversation!

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

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!

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”! 🙂

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!



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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

Writing new website content

I’ve got to start practicing what I preach: A good website needs to be updated often. It should engage visitors’ interest. It should provide helpful, relevant information. (It should NOT be stale, like I’m afraid my website has become…  Yes, I’m being realistic and facing the truth!)

Guilty as charged!

The time has come — actually, it came a long time ago, but I pushed it to the back burner 🙂 — to update the content you see here. I’m (annoyingly) reminded about this need-to-update every day, since I use my website as my home page on my browser.  But, I’m really reminded and feeling guilty about this situation toward the end of each semester when I teach my COM107 Persuasive Writing for the Media students the basics about writing good website content (which is what we’re doing in class right now…).

If you’re in the same boat as I am and need to update your website content, here are the articles I shared with my students this semester:

by Michel Fortin

by Julia Hyde

“Making the Most of ‘Contact Us’…” by Khoa Bui

Each of these articles offers helpful information in an easy-to-digest, quick read. Now, it’s time to put these ideas into practice…

If you’ve come across some good advice about writing website content, or if you’ve got some ideas and hints to share, please do so by commenting here. I’m all ears — and I’m tired of the guilt — and I’m ready to revamp! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Photo by mikecogh via Flickr/Creative Commons

Working Alone or Working in Teams?

We need to be good at doing BOTH: working alone and working in teams. Successful teamwork is based on good communication skills — the ability to effectively express our thoughts, and the ability to interact with others.

Lately, I’ve noticed that some of my students are uncomfortable with teamwork and they resist team-building activities. In one of my classes, several students have either talked to me after class or emailed me about the “issues” they’re having with their teams. In each of these instances, I’ve noticed (and pointed out to them) that the issues are being caused by a lack of communication with their teammates. The solution is simple: better communication, especially via face-to-face interaction.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: Maybe “face-to-face” communication is now becoming a neglected form of communication? Many younger students (approximately 20 years old) don’t want to, or prefer not to, work in teams. Is this a new trend?…

Are we becoming too reliant on texting, postings and emails? Are we creating a society of people who have become too comfortable “hiding behind” their computers and devices? Yes, we need to work independently, but we also need to know how to work with others…What’s happening to us?… And do you agree that face-to-face communication (or at least a phone call where we hear each other’s voice) is becoming a lost art or neglected activity?

I’m curious to hear your ideas about this… Maybe we can team up to brainstorm some solutions? … Or maybe we should Skype — taking advantage of the newest form of face-to-face communication? 😉 Please let me know what you think by posting your comments here. Thanks!

Until next time,


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A Presentation is a ‘Precious Opportunity’

Last week, students in one of my classes at Rider University (COM105 Mass Media Communication) completed their first team challenge presentations. Evaluated by their peers, each team entertained and educated their audience (me and their classmates) for up to 10 minutes. Some presentations were entertaining. Some were not. Some were rehearsed, but others were not. The whole experience reminded me of a blog post from Seth Godin last April called “The Hierarchy of Presentations.”

The key takeaways from Seth Godin’s post are:

1. A presentation is a precious opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.

2. The purpose of a presentation is to change minds — or, in our case, to inform and educate (and to persuade our audience to give us good evaluations and grades).

It’s obvious that some of my students already know what makes a presentation work, and they recognize the value of a presentation opportunity. But, I think it’s a good idea to remind all of us to consider our goals when we’re making presentations — and to make sure we’re communicating and really connecting with our audience in a professional manner. Otherwise, don’t waste your audience’s time.

Until next time, polish up your presentation skills and take care! 😉

Kathy Magrino

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Diving in…

It’s the end of summer and the perfect time to dive in and “just do it,” as the people at Nike say. Yes, it’s time to start my blog. I’m not sure what direction this blog will take during the coming months, but I hope you’ll tune in to see what’s new and where we’re going. Next week, I’ll post a “schedule” of upcoming blog topics. Until then, enjoy the remaining days before it’s back-to-school time (here in NJ — I realize that some of you may be back to school already…)!

Best wishes,

Kathy Magrino

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