‘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!

Getting Ready to Write (in 2016)!

Photo by Lynda Giddens via Creative Commons

Photo by Lynda Giddens via Creative Commons

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!

Note: This is an updated version of a blog post I originally wrote four years ago. We used the original post for an assignment in the writing classes I teach at Rider University, and we’ll be using this post in our writing classes that start this week. All the ideas shared are still applicable today (in 2016), but I’ve made some very minor changes/additions to this latest version. The changes are noted in red… Thanks for reading this post!

Here’s what I do to get ready to write, and I hope you find the info to be interesting and helpful to 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… Recent research backs up this idea!) 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 ignore any calls or texts that might come in while I’m trying to work. I sign off all social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, 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 Netflix or 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. (I used to use an “old-fashioned” kitchen timer with an obnoxious ring/buzz when it went off. But today I use the alarm/timer on my iPhone — I can control the ringtone, and it’s a lot less jolting!) 

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 can’t stress this enough!!) 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… 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 in the comments here on my blog.

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

Kathy Magrino

 

Creativity and enthusiasm shine through the blogs my students are writing!

A few years ago, I blogged about how impressed I was with the blogs my students were creating and writing for our COM106 Writing for the Communication Professions class at Rider University. And each semester since 2012, I’ve continued to be “wowed” by my students’ blogs.blogcollageimage It’s not just the writing that they’re doing that’s impressive. It’s my students’ creativity that impresses me the most!

I give my students complete creative control over their blogs, and they can choose to write about any theme they want (because I believe that it’s always easier to write when you’re writing about a topic that interests you). Their creativity is awesome, and it’s enhanced by their enthusiasm for the topics they’re writing about, as well! They’re doing such a great job writing their blogs this semester, and the themes and topics are so interesting. I enjoy reading every post they write. :)

Take a look at a few of the blogs created during the past few weeks (Spring Semester 2015), and I think you’ll be impressed, too!