Careful Curation: Minor in Writing Capstone

Ah, I can’t believe the time is finally here! I’m putting the finishing touches on my capstone and am thrilled to finally get to share it with the MiW community.

 

This semester, I decided to explore how social media and our devices either hamper or improve communication with others. Nowadays, some people choose to interact with their electronic devices rather than the people around them. But is this necessarily a bad thing? It is called “social” media for a reason. 

This Minor in Writing portfolio consists of three creative nonfiction short essays, written from my perspective, and a research report that analyzes the usage of technology in lieu of communication with others.

It is important to society today to think about the impact that our attachment to these devices has on the people around us. So now it’s your time to decide: does it encourage communication, or does it stifle it?

Link: https://hallkl.wixsite.com/website-1

The Dreaded (yet always exciting) Pivot

In my entrepreneurship classes, I’ve learned that people often pivot during their endeavors, meaning that they quite literally move in a completely new and different direction partway through their project. The scary part? This is often after a good chunk of work has already been done. I pivoted big time last week after having a discussion with my friends about my capstone project.

Hearing their comments and suggestions was humorous.

“Oh, we know you love to people watch, Kelly.”

“It sounds like you’re looking mostly at people on their devices. Why can’t you write about that?”

“You love watching people–both in person and on social media!”

This reaffirmed that I was in the right genre, but my topic needed a little tweaking. After some brainstorming with Clint in class, I made an executive decision and did a lot of thinking and working on my Wix website this weekend. I’m still observing people, but now I will be focusing on people who are using technology in public, even when they’re surrounded by others. I’ll explore the idea of if it inhibits social interaction or not through three creative nonfiction stories. Now, I’m even more excited about my project and I’m ready to really get going. I’m a dork when it comes to human behavior, and I don’t care who knows it.

I’ll also probably need some help from you guys soon. I plan on creating a Google Form that asks about your own technology/social media usage, and how you perceive it impedes on your social life.

As always, thanks for reading!

The Revision Process

While I definitely consider myself a writer who is very comfortable with the revision process, I have no idea how to move forward with revising my writing for the capstone project. Revision is a very necessary process for every single kind of writing I have done in the past, and I’m assuming that will be no different for this project…but at the same time, that thought makes me uncomfortable. In class on Thursday, we discussed addressing something that makes us a little uneasy, and this is one of those things.

Exploring shifting perspectives through writing (read: plz help!)

For my capstone, I’ll be exploring the idea of shifting perspectives through creative non-fiction writing. It sounds so simple when I put it that way, but as I’m sure many of you know, this capstone project is far from simple. The project needs to solve some sort of problem or question, and though mine will certainly explore multiple perspectives, I feel like I need to narrow down my problem even further.

For some background information, I plan on going to places around Ann Arbor where I can sit and observe someone for around 20-30 minutes. As I sit there, I will write notes for a small creative nonfiction story, likely around 600-800 words. My story about the stranger will undoubtedly be different from other people’s stories, however. That is why I will be enlisting a few friends to come with me on these journeys. They will take field notes as well, and afterwards, we’ll discuss what we thought we saw. After discussing and looking over their notes, I will write a second creative nonfiction story about what my friend saw. There will likely be a large juxtaposition between the two stories, and that explains how a perspective can influence a story. At the end of it all, I will publish my story, their notes, and then the written story of my friend’s notes.

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One of the issues that I have is that I need more ideas for places to visit where we’ll be able to observe a variety of people. I don’t want to observe just college kids, for example.

My second issue is that I feel as if I can incorporate a second topic into my project. For example, I could work out some of the problems that technology and social media pose on interactions between strangers and people watching in general. I would be willing to bet that most people my age wouldn’t know how to observe a scene or a person for a full half hour without looking at their phone.

I would appreciate any suggestions or comments you may have!

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I’m back!

Hi everyone! It’s good to be back.

At first, I was worried when I read the prompt for our first blog post. I instantly knew that one of my communities would be The Michigan Daily, but was petrified that I somehow floated through three and a half years at this university without joining a single other writing community. Once I calmed down, though, I realized that quite a few of my experiences on campus could be considered involvement in a writing community.

I have spent most of my time on campus at the Daily, and I couldn’t be more happy in my decision to do so. I covered the softball, women’s basketball, men’s basketball and football teams over the past few years and it has taught me so much. Also, sitting through this guy’s pressers has been a fun time.

I cringe when I go back and read my articles from my freshman year, but I’m also happy to be aware of the improvements I’ve made in my writing. I also really enjoy helping new writers as a senior editor at the paper and trying to make them cognizant of the pitfalls I committed when I was their age. The Daily engulfed my life for a while there, so it will be strange to sit back this semester and just relax now that football season is over.

The main community that interfered with my sports writing would have to be the psychology community. After reading through a few others’ posts, I know I’m not the only one who experienced difficulty transitioning between APA caveats and other kinds of writing. One time last semester, I finished a developmental psychology grant proposal and then went to write a sports column. I submitted it later, thinking that it looked good, but another editor pointed out all of the academic language I was using in my supposedly casual article. I had to slowly rework the entire thing, but that just goes to show you how beautifully expansive writing can be.

There are countless types of writing, and I’m hoping to expand upon my writing experiences, which have been overwhelmingly journalistic. Adding to my experience with straight-laced writing is my internship in the corporate communications department of Blue Cross Blue Shield two years ago. AP style 4 lyfe.

Looking forward to learning from everyone this semester!

The Final Product

Well folks, here it is: My Final ePortfolio

I really enjoyed this project because I feel like I learned skills that I’ll be able to use for the rest of my life. I also know more about editing websites, which I think will be a very valuable skill to have in the career I plan on pursuing. I definitely appreciate how much work goes into websites now after struggling with applications on mine for hours on end.

I think I struggled most when formatting each page because I felt as if I had to make each page similar enough so the site would look cohesive, but I also didn’t want each page to look the same. It’s also somewhat difficult to lay out the pages in a way that makes sense to every visitor. I changed the format of my navigation bar after receiving some advice during peer review, so that was extremely helpful.

After this class is over, I might continue to use the website, but I’m not sure yet because it contains some things I wouldn’t necessarily want to show future employers. I think I did present myself very truthfully as a writer, however, so I’ll have to contemplate what to leave and take out if I decide to continue using it.

Thanks for a great semester, and I hope everyone is as happy with their new ePortfolio as I am with mine!

To the Minor in Writing Youngins

I don’t like giving advice. Er, “life advice,” that is. I mean I kind of like giving “life advice” at times, but I’m only 20 and I’m terrified of giving bad advice. Like what if I accidentally ruin your life? What do I know? Everyone is different and you’re one of a kind, and that means you might do your best writing under pressure (like me!) or you might excel by planning weeks in advance. You might give away a little too much about yourself in class (hi, it’s me again), or you might be more comfortable listening rather than talking. You might love getting to know other people (same), or you might rather focus on the course material.

Phil Dunphy from Modern Family giving advice

In all of these scenarios, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. There’s only a solution to what works best for you. Here’s a list of things that worked best for me:

  1. Get to know your blog group members. It was a lot easier for me to make strides in my projects and papers when I was completely upfront with my classmates. They gave me great advice, and I think I was able to give decent writing advice throughout the semester as well, which leads into my next point…
  2. Don’t look at peer editing as a task that only helps the other person. I got a lot of great ideas from reading my classmates’ papers and projects. Their great ideas generated some of my best ideas. Being critical of someone else’s work teaches you more about yourself than you’d think. Embrace it.
  3. I’m not sure if you’re a self-proclaimed writer or not (I decided to stick with that label), but I think it’s important to realize that anyone who ever writes is a writer. This class isn’t meant to teach you how to be a writer, it’s to help you realize that you are a writer.
  4. Don’t second guess that you’re a writer. Just stick with it. Be confident in your words.
  5. Be completely upfront with your instructor during conferences! If you haven’t done as much work on the project as you maybe should have, then mention that. They need to know that you plan on doing more work (or vice versa, that you’re pretty much done with your project). Naomi always understood when I hit a creative wall, and I think she appreciated the transparency.

What do I know, though?

Writing about my “Why I Write” Writing

I really, really enjoy the “Why I Write” topic. I mean that legitimately this time.

Normally, I get excited about assignments (I get excited pretty easily, not sure if this is good or bad), but then when I sit down to actually start to work, some of that anticipation dissipates.

Oops.

But this time, I feel the same kind of urgency writing about “Why I Write” as I do when I’m writing about fun things for the Daily. I still feel that sense of urgency–which is awesome–because my paper is far from complete and I’m excited to see where it goes. When I’m writing about this subject, words flow freely and I’m not afraid to just write down every single idea that I have. I really love how unstructured the prompt is, because I feel like I’m allowed to jot down pretty much anything that has impacted me as a writer. I haven’t been given an assignment to write about myself (extensively) in forever, so this has been really intriguing for me.

Also, as a sidenote, I really enjoy completing peer reviews. I feel fulfilled after I complete one because I think my advice actually helps others. I’m not sure when my approach to peer reviewing changed, because before, I always felt like I was forcing my opinion on others and I hated it. Now, though, I appreciate it way more. Maybe I’ve learned to enjoy slight criticism and now I don’t mind making suggestions to others? Whatever the reason may be, I just know that I love it.

Emma Stone reacts enthusiastically..

I don’t see the concept of peer review disappearing from the Minor in Writing anytime soon, but just in case, I would recommend never getting rid of it. Peer review is beneficial to everyone involved and I think most people agree that it seems necessary.

I’ve Always Been Bad at Titling Articles

I think my overall view of writing has changed, and that’s a good thing. Writing is a much broader term than I initially thought it was, and that includes making things like videos. I’ve learned a lot about video editing (er, I guess vodcast editing?) but I think that that will be valuable to me as a writer moving forward. I will no longer watch a video embedded in a NYT article and assume the written part of the article was the most difficult thing to produce. This has been my first time playing with iMovie, and I’m really glad that I finally have a base knowledge of how the program works.

When it comes to writing, I haven’t done very much strict academic writing this semester, but I’m OK with that. I think that growing all facets of my writing will automatically improve any academic writing I do. I also think that academic writing won’t be very applicable to my life following graduation in a year and a half. I hope that writing (in general) is always applicable, because I really enjoy writing, but I don’t think I’ll ever need a strict thesis with topic sentences ever again (unless I somehow land in grad school).

I don’t really wish I was working on any other kinds of writing right now. I think this course has done a good job of covering a few different kinds of writing, and because of the volume of writing I do outside of class, it has been a perfect fit for me.

Looney Toons duck typing.

Why Write?

When I was little, I wanted to be an author. I memorized a 10-minute presentation in the fourth grade in which I was assigned to pretend I was my favorite author, JK Rowling. I amazed my parents with my presentation at the “Author Open House” because I was so shy and quiet as a child that they couldn’t believe how loud and excited I was to talk about the Harry Potter series. I “broke out of my shell.”

Later, I wanted to be a teacher. At other times, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Then, in middle school, I read “Last Shot: Mystery at the Final Four” by John Feinstein. I remember being so thrilled by the prospects of covering an event on deadline, being surrounded by spectacular athletes, and finding stories everywhere. For a while, I wanted to be a sports journalist.

Then, in high school, that dream somewhat disappeared. Without a school newspaper to write for, I had no chance to gain experience in print journalism. Fast forward a few years though (and I’m not even sure how it happened) and I’m covering a college basketball team that has the potential to make it the Final Four, and I could cover it just like the main characters did in “Last Shot.”

It’s kind of weird how life works out. I don’t plan on pursuing sports journalism as a career, but I’m not altogether ruling it out. I love the way I feel when I’m proud of an article I put together. I’m most proud of when an article works itself out after struggling through days of writing a feature with no idea of where the story is headed.

I agree with Orwell’s motives for writing, especially aesthetic enthusiasm. When I hear something that I feel needs to get shared, I want to write about it, and I want to write about it in a way that “clicks” for me. I like playing with different words to find out which ones sound the best, too. I also agree with sheer egoism. I think most people start to seriously write because they feel that what they have to say is valuable or important. I know when I started, I wanted to be clever and respected because I had always been the quiet kid who never shared her thoughts (not anymore, though, and I wonder if that has anything to do with how often I currently write). For me, confidence is such a big part of writing that it’s particularly hard to put words down when I’m having a rough day.