My Little Secret (website that is)

http://www.postsecret.com

 

Post Secret is probably one of the most unique sites on the Internet in my opinion. I have been checking the site for at least two years and am always deeply intrigued. The purpose of the site is to share people’s secrets without knowing who wrote them and getting to see if you share similar thoughts. Sometimes they are simple, like that they cheated on their wife, other ones are complex thoughts about deep childhood depression affecting them now. Sometimes the website is “themed” like postcards related to an upcoming holiday. It is also unique in that despite the owner of Post Secret, Frank, receiving thousands of postcards each week, he only posts a few and only on Sunday’s. I think this makes the site really unique as well because it further adds to the community aspect of it. First, there is this Post Secret community of people who take comfort in finding another person with a similar secret, and second knowing that everyone is checking at the same time.

In terms of new media, the site utilizes the physical postcards that people send it. Some actually flip over so you can see both sides of the postcard, this is something I did learn how to do in high school so maybe I could use it sometimes on my blog to surprise readers when they gloss the cursor over a photo. Secondly, next to every postcard comes up a twitter or facebook or pintrest box. This hasn’t always been on the website, but it further adds to the community and interactive aspect of the website.

From This Week's Post Secret Website, http://www.postsecret.com
From This Week’s Post Secret Website, http://www.postsecret.com

Find Your Balcony #writingstrategy

What is the most important writing strategy I’ve ever used? I don’t know!!

If I said it was for that last shitty first draft, I’d be lying. I was stressed out the night before and it should really be called the pre-shitty first draft for me. So I am going to use a different example. And yes, I am going to talk about the same paper I always do- which is really the only one I am most proud of (so far) in my writing career.

The prompt was do something out of your comfort zone, and I did! I walked in a fashion show/pageant and ran off the stage in fear. Like any good paper, I had an awesome idea/story of what my work would be, but not exactly the ideas of how to make it all go together and get me an A (and make me happy to submit). It turned out that I was actually in Atlanta the weekend of the final four and pretty pressed for time to get my draft in for Tuesday’s class last winter. I had a 3 hour lay over in Chicago to come back for Detroit and swore I would do my paper then.

Turned out that the night before I had worn one of those face tattoos on my right cheek and when I got back to the hotel from the game my boyfriend called with some issue and being stuck in Chicago. So as I listened and problem solved, I also scrubbed the tattoo off my face with a washcloth. NOTE TO ALL READERS: NEVER EVER EVER DO THIS. It actually burns your skin off if you don’t remove it properly. SO needless to say, the 3 hours I allocated to writing my paper were spent running back and forth to bathroom seeing how fast Neosporin can work and listening to my dermatologist laugh at me and call in a prescription to the Ann Arbor CVS.

So while I’m sure this story is highly entertaining, you’re probably wondering what my writing strategy is. Well I obviously was stuck the week that the paper was due with a really shitty first draft. So my solution, as well as my writing strategy was putting myself in the most relaxed state possible and just free writing.

It was something I had never done before, but something I now try to do every time I am stressing to handle the pinball machine of ideas in my mind. I sit up on a balcony (anyone’s who is available really) and I plop my trusty MacBook Pro on my lap and don’t connect to the Internet (this last thing has to be key to success).

The coolest thing about this process has got to be being outside and writing. You can take a minute to look at the sky or the trees or just take a breath every time a sentence just doesn’t seem right. The fresh air must do wonders for my brain but I sat out there until it was dark and had never felt more successful as a writer than I did in that moment. My mind was completely and utterly focused on what I was doing. For the first time since, well probably since I got a Facebook, that I was fully concentrated one just one thing. It was beautiful and just plain awesome.

 

So my writing stategy suggestion is to find your balcony. Find a place where your mind can actually be really free and not confined in a 5th floor cubicle in the library (unless that is your personal balcony than I guess it’s ok) and then just let it all go.

 

Ps- here is my balcony (sometimes writing with friends is allowed too!)

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I’ll Repurpose This: You Don’t Go, Girl!

The paper I am going to repurpose was called, Throwing Like a Girl in 2012 and I originally wrote it for my political science class. In the paper, I told the story of a young girl in a small town that joined the football team. I wrote about the challenges she faced going against a social norm and the ridicule faced from society and her teammates. Especially for the assignment, I wrote about how the dis-encouragement to work hard from her teammates hinders her success particularly for being a girl in a man’s sport.

I want to repurpose this paper because I see a lot of potential to do something else with it than when it was assigned. I have learned so much about females breaking down barriers and how what I have come to know about women in business, the home and sports is now impacting me growing up. My idea to repurpose this paper is to actually turn the story personal.

My current paper has no voice of my own in it. It simply summarizes the New York Times article on the girl and includes to political science theory about the effects of discrimination on female development.  My repurposing idea is to turn this into more of my own story about being a female in the 21st century. In a reflective, longer, Internet savvy kind of perspective, I want to write about how I grew up playing with the boys. My friends and I had no fear of playing rugby at recess or playing girls versus boys varsity soccer in high school. Instead, my own dis-encouragement has come along in college when I’ve taken classes about females in sports and economics and seen the numbers that are standing in my way. My specific example is from my gender and econ class where we learned that the payoff for extra education for women actually does not have the expected payoff—a huge dis-encouragement for a student in college!!

Basically, I want to turn this objective paper into a personal one and maybe find my own encouragement to get through the disincentives to succeed and break through, just like the little girl football player.

Why I Write

Why do I write?

I write for papers.

I write for emails.

I write to-do lists and notes and thank you cards.

There are endless reasons of why I write, and most of them could be summed up in, “because I have to” but as I sit here in front of my computer at a blank page I’m really thinking about what is making me like writing enough to do any extra?

 

I really never loved to write like some people. When I first smell or see or touch or taste something, descriptive words don’t start popping up in my head and I don’t like to stare off into the distance imagining characters lives unfolding that I must write down. Writing has just kind of been something that I’ve been trained to do, but I’ve enjoyed the tangible; research papers and book reports, anything creative was not for me. So essentially my response of why do I write is like why am I in a writing minor.

 

I write because it is challenging and powerful. It is challenging every time I sit down to write something on a page. While that may be a silly reason to want to do something, it has been refreshing to push myself through multiple drafts of even the simplest sentences to get them to feel just right. It is powerful because I can see that after each rewrite I complete, my words become more persuasive. Seeing another person compelled by my words on really any topic is the most powerful thing I really believe I can do.

 

My writing my not become beautiful novels, left on shelves through generations, but I do believe what I write can make a difference at times and in my eyes the ability to convince another person through words is one of the most powerful thing anyone can do.

My Fav Blog: Real Reminders of Harsh Honesty

I was never a huge fan of blogs, or so I thought. When friends made blogs about food they cooked or adventures they have taken, it always seemed like one too many lines were just trying a little too hard to make me laugh. My least favorite thing about the Internet is that most of the time what is posted is strategically picked to get a like, favorite or plain old compliment. But then, I found out that my favorite thing about the Internet is brutal honesty. While of course it can be rude to say what you really think about someone’s thoughts out loud, the wonders of technology have facilitated people speaking their mind (for better or worse).

To me, speaking your mind (or writing it out there) is really a beautiful thing.

My favorite blog is Elite Daily: The Online Destination for Generation Y. While some blog posts are a little too extreme or at time explicit for my own liking, I am an avid twitter follower and re-tweeter of their posts. Specifically, one from today was “The 20 Things You Need To Stop Doing To Yourself”. While the title sounds like the beginning of a self-help book, Elite Daily is hardly that gentle. The blog is raw and for lack of better words, calls the reader out for bad habits. This post is honest and real. Some of the 20 things include stopping lying to yourself, procrastinating, fearing failure, worrying and etc.

Elite Daily doesn’t necessarily tell you how to stop lying to yourself, it just tells you to get over it and live in the present. In his article, Andrew Sullivan described blogging as “spontaneous expression of instant thought”. I could not think of a better way to put Elite Daily than that. The articles (for the most part) are harsh and honest in the same way that you’d accidentally telling your crying best friend to get over the boy, put the ice cream down and move on already. We too often are quieting the honest truth to be nice. Of course, Elite Daily isn’t calling me personally out for my procrastination or fears it is calling out a generation and truly “writing out loud” to what I believe most people are thinking. It may be a little disturbing to read at times, since the “truth” isn’t always easy, but I give credit to the bloggers who can truly say how they feel about society.

Plus the blog posts almost always have pictures- who doesn’t love pictures?