Capstone Project Idea!

Hello 🙂

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged on here! But, I thought I’d ask you all for feedback about my capstone project idea.

I’m really interested in writing some form of a gamebook, a work of fiction that allows the reader to participate in the story by making choices that determine the main character’s actions and the plot’s outcome.

My idea right now is using my life as a template, including both past experiences and future opportunities. The readers would be able to make their own decisions to see what journey my life takes. Alternatively, I could use the same form and create a more fictional, fairy-tale style story/crime fiction with various characters and plot twists.

Features of this style:

  • The electronic book would be featured on my portfolio as a new media presentation.
  • The go to page ### button would link you directly to the next section.
  • An opportunity for creativity and freedom.
  • A chance to strengthen my descriptive writing abilities.
  • A way to demonstrate the complexity of my ideas.

Right now, I’m not sure if I want to use my existing ePortfolio  or create a new one for this class. My gateway ePort is incorporated in my resume and was developed for a professional demographic, including law schools admissions officers and future employers. I could add this project under the New Media section, or create a new tab. Alternatively, I could create a more informal ePort with the project as its centerpiece and a collection of writings around a common theme, such as: the Inner Child/Young at Heart; Varied Genres; For the Future. 

The logistics of this kind of writing could be challenging, but I have found some tools that could help!

  • Inklewriter App: An app developed to help make the process of writing a game book easier!
  • Twine: A tool for creating interactive stories
Please comment with any feedback or thoughts you may have!

Done! I’m actually really happy with the way my ePortfolio turned out! It’s kind of nerdy, but I’ve already showed it off to my entire family. Don’t be fooled, it was definitely a challenge, but I had such a great support system with Shelley and all of you in my Writing Minor class, so thank you all for your great feedback!

It’s been real, wordpress. Thanks for not deleting all my work or giving me too many ridiculous problems.

Two more finals and then…

See y’all soon =)

…But not THAT soon.

Happy Holidays!

Capstone Class – READ THIS!

Hey Everyone!

I was just wondering when you guys were planning to take the Minor in Writing Capstone class. I know some people are graduating early, and others might  be going abroad their last semester or interning somewhere, so I was wondering if people would be open to taking the capstone class Fall 2013 instead of Winter 2014.

For the Capstone class to be offered in Fall 2013, we only need 9 students to enroll, and so if this is a possibility or preference for some of you, let me know asap!

Thanks 🙂

Good luck on Eportfolios and happy holidays!

Déjà vu!

No, not the strip club, but the phenomenon of having a strong feeling that an event currently being experienced has been experienced in the past.

I swear, this defines my entire semester. In every single class I’m taking, we’ve discussed the importance of keeping the audience in mind while writing. From my Political Science classes to my Psychology classes, all I hear is how important the audience is. This is exactly how our How I Write speaker, Thomas Hager, introduced his writing process. Keep the audience in mind – I get it! Phew.

Thomas Hager writes narrative nonfiction on health and science. I loved the way he started his talk, “I’m not just interested in writing, but in being read.” I mean, isn’t that common in academic writing? You write to spread awareness, get the word out, show people what you’ve learned, and even to ask for more money. The whole point is the conversation you’re having – and that goes to show you how important the audience is.

Hager describes his writing process as working with real material and turning it into a story you want to read or a scene you can imagine. Genius! If only all my textbooks were like this. It took me, no joke, 3 hours to finally understand a 5 page journal article. That’s ridiculous! And that was only after my friend described it to me over the phone in basically 3 minutes. If the entire journal article could be summarized into a paragraph, imagine how much of that was jargon! Hager mentioned that he had to shorten one of his books into less than a quarter of its original size to appeal to high school students, and that in the end, the shorter version basically encompassed everything you need to know! Crazy, right?

Another thing that I really liked from his talk was his emphasis on the pre-writing process. Research is SO important. And just reading and collecting information isn’t enough…you need to be actively reading and organizing the information in a way that you can later use it effectively. His process of writing the important information down on a note card was super helpful! I’m working on a policy memo for my Human Security class and I literally had 20 tabs open at one time. So I quit Safari, opened up the first link that looked helpful, scanned the information to see what was relevant to my topic and might be useful later on, and wrote down the date, topic, the quote, and what general category it fell under/how it fit into my research (ex: Time-line, budget-related, possible actions). And after I did all my research and organized all my note cards, it was SO much easier to pull everything together and write my memo!

So basically, thank you Thomas Hager for being a super cool guy and giving us all awesome practical advice!

Stylish Academic Writing

What is Stylish Academic Writing, you ask? Well…its basically about being nice to your reader – be concise and engaging. Remember that rule we learned during elementary school about treating others the way you want to be treated? Well, why not apply that to writing! No one wants reading to be hard, especially when you’re trying to read something you’re interested in. In my opinion, stylish academic writing involves writing in a clean and clear way, and keeping your audience in mind.

I read chapters: Voice & Echo, Smart Sentencing, and Tempting Titles, of Stylish Academic Writing by Helen Sword.

The voice & echo chapter discusses the use of “I” in academic papers and how while it’s not common in academic papers, the paper’s that use first person pronouns are much more engaging and easier to comprehend! Sword uses this section to discuss the importance of using “I”: “When we muzzle the personal voice, we risk subverting our whole purpose as researchers, which is to foster change by communicating new knowledge to our intended audience in the most effecting and persuasive way possible. ”

The smart sentencing chapter emphasizes using concrete language. Don’t clutter! Sword talks about the importance of avoiding extra words and phrases that get in the way of a sentence’s meaning.
The chapter on temping titles highlighted using engaging and interesting titles to hook people in! There’s other things that will let the readers know what the paper/presentation is about, like the journal it’s in or the conference it’s a part of, so you can definitely use a fun title that isn’t as descriptive as a boring one. Don’t use jargon in titles!

Overall in Stylish Academic Writing, Sword clears the myth that an academic writer can’t get published without writing wordy, impersonal prose, and gives us techniques to practice clear and engaging writing!


Letters, Letters Everywhere!

Woody’s face pretty much describes how I feel right now…

It’s that time of the year, papers and midterms…and everything involves writing. The prompt for this blog post was to write about something writing related, and it really made me think of how much writing an average student does everyday! There’s my political science classes which involve papers and grant proposal writing, and there’s my psych classes which involve more papers and exams with “short” answers (which is equal to writing a long paragraph for each question, for 5 broad questions).  Then there’s writing emails to the Michigan Pre-Law Society members as the PR chair. Plus writing case reports and notes in my work as a facilitator at the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, which ends up equivalent to about 3-5 pages a day. Oh, and then you could add on texting, facebook wall posts, and editing my brother’s college application essays.

Out of a 24 hour day, I spend about 8 hours a day sleeping, 3 hours a day in class, 4 hours a day at work, 2-3 hours in meetings, which leaves about 3 hours of studying and 3 hours of relaxing/procrastination time. And writing is involved in almost every activity, except sleeping! It just really makes you appreciate assignments where you can do something besides writing – like our re-mediation project! I look forward to working with a new medium, and perhaps an entirely new presentation style!

Hopefully as I fall asleep tonight, I won’t be seeing letters 😛

Wear Comfy Pants.

Earlier this evening, I attended the Sweetland Center for Writing and Minor in Writing “How I Write” event, ” ‘I’ Am Always First Person: How Auto-Ethnography, Good Snacks, and Comfortable Pants Can Defeat the Time-Honored Tradition of the Boring Academic Essay,” with Screen Arts and Cultures’ Associate Professor Sheilah Murphy. Murphy is a digital media scholar who’s interests lie in digital media theory, technology, television, video games, identity politics, and of course her cats and dogs!

At first, I was a little skeptical about the “How I Write” events in general, because I expected someone who wrote something really academic and discussed their method of writing and research…but as soon as Murphy’s first slide was up (and she mentioned puppies…) – I was intrigued.

One of the main takeaways from the event was when Murphy mentioned that she wanted to write in a way that people can understand…and actually receive it. This reminded me of something I learned during my facilitation and motivational interview training, “Active listening requires listening with your eyes, ears, and heart.” This connection stood out to me because often, someone can be giving you information, verbal or written, and you could be standing there and not really getting a single word. The whole point of communication is to engage the other party! Murphy stressed the importance of not using jargon in order to effectively engage the reader!

I also really appreciated Sheilah’s take on the process of her writing…and how she recommends wearing comfy clothes and setting a timer for 15 minutes and almost forcing yourself to start writing within that time…which could then get you into the flow of an idea (almost like the last line on the 6th page of your shitty first draft!) She also mentioned that it was important to set time aside to write, because in today’s world where there’s always something else to do…writing becomes anything but your first priority.

When Murphy talked about how she never writes on a desk, but rather usually on the couch…I was in total agreement! I basically use my desk as a storage space with about a million books on it, and I end up writing on my recliner chair, in my bed, or outside on the grass (which has been hard to do recently thanks to Michigan’s moody weather of course). And usually…I’m wearing comfy pants – I agree, it REALLY does make a difference. Once I get a paragraph or a line down on my screen or paper, I’m on a roll until I’ve exhausted everything about my idea…or I decide to take a nap. haha

One thing I like to do as well is put my phone away in another room: outta sight outta mind. Technology can be such a distraction sometimes, that just leaving your phone somewhere else will help you control your need to check every single text you receive and promptly reply. Or you can always have your phone stolen and learn that the hard way. haha.

I look forward to using Murphy’s advice as I write my law school personal statement for my re-purposing project and academic writing in general. It just shows you how important your audience really is! I really enjoyed today’s event and I look forward to the next one!

And remember…always wear comfy pants!

A fresh take.

Honestly, I never thought blogging could be so much fun, or so helpful! I was originally worried that my blog posts would be too much like a diary, or “all about me” as Sullivan would say. While a lot of what I have posted have been related to my thoughts, they all relate to some project or reading, and aren’t just a ramble about my day. Sullivan talks about the brutality of instant response and feedback that comes along with blogging, but I’ve been using this blog as a way to get my ideas out to the world, and invite other people’s opinions. I think the main reason for this is that my pieces aren’t exactly politically or emotionally charged, and they’re designed to generate comments from the readers, not generate controversy (not that there’s anything wrong in doing so). Working on my blog and Eportfolio, I’ve been really looking forward to documenting my next trip through a semi-blog, both to remember what I did and learned, and also to share my experiences with the rest of the world.

I think one of Sullivan’s main point is that blogging in an engaging mode of writing and reading. I relate this with Tierney and Pearson’s point of keeping the audience in mind while creating a piece, and how when you’re writing, you should keep your readers in mind, and how they would perceive what you’re writing, as well as when reading, you have to understand that you bring your experiences and knowledge to the table and revise what has been written in your own head – so you should think about how you perceive something might be different than what the author intended. For my re-purposing project, I plan to re-purpose my resume into my Law School Personal Statement. In this sense, my personal statement will be read by the admissions officers at the law school I apply to, and it’s one of the very few ways they get to know me through the application process and decide if I’m a good fit for their school. I should keep this in mind as I plan the tone and substance of the piece, because while I would want to tell them every single thing that is important to me and makes me unique, admissions officers will be reading a large number of personal statements a day, and I need to keep mine to the point and as effective as possible.

I believe that blogging has many similarities and differences compared to writing a personal statement. Both blogging and writing a personal statement express your views and and show the world a side of you. At the same time, blogging has a more casual, wider audience, whereas your personal statement may be viewed by a few people but will be judged by 1-2 admissions officers. So essentially, if someone disagrees / doesn’t enjoy what you’ve written, they don’t get to provide feedback as you would while blogging, but rather they get to deny you admission into their law school. Basically, there are much higher risks involved, and the desire to please the audience (rather than engage them in a discussion) is ever present.



What to do with my Eportfolio…

So I’m struggling between making my Eportfolio a professional one or on the more creative side. I literally was thinking about making to different portfolios, one to have fun with, and one for law school/career purposes…but in class we came up with a couple of other options! I think it would be really cool to have a general Eportfolio that’s fun but elegant, and then have pages to separate  the creative side (with some fun pieces I’ve written and some more media) and the more professional side to show how my writing has developed through college and what I’m capable of now.

When I was looking at the Eportfolio prompt, one of the questions that stuck out to me was: What media do you want to include in your portfolio, and why? At first, I wasn’t really sure how much media I’d want to incorporate into my portfolio. However, I thought of  this idea where I could have a little video explaining each page…for example, a little video of me explaining why I chose this particular piece to re-purpose and re-mediate and what it means to me. That way, if there are other pages that don’t necessarily have anything to do with our class assignments, I can talk about why I chose to add those, and what I hope people get from it/what I want them to keep in mind. Even if I don’t end up doing this in the video format, I feel like I’d still like to write a little blurb/paragraph talking about what’s on the portfolio. What do you guys think?

I also think it would be really great to have a little life story page for my audience to get to know me and my experiences… This would make it easier to see my personality through my writing, and sometimes even help the readers imagine communicating with me as they read.

I guess I’m not really sure what I want to do with this Eportfolio because there are so many options…but I am really excited to play around with WordPress and see what I can do! 🙂

I’m also planning on travelling this summer and I might want to have a blog related to that, so maybe that could be part of this Eportfolio? Oh and I also wanted my Eportfolio to represent part of my personality, so I’m thinking of having a little theme for each page related to a country that I’ve visited, or really want to!

ahhh I have so many thoughts—-too many options isn’t good for an indecisive person.

…ps. I also really like horoscopes so I’m wondering if there’s a widget that tells you your horoscope for the day! haha. If not, I might post a link or something…

How Do Reading and Writing Interact?

In “Toward a Composing Model of Reading” Tierney and Pearson argue that reading and writing go hand in hand, in that “both the readers and writer must adapt to their perceptions about their partner in negotiating what a text means.” I appreciated the piece for its discussion on the collaboration of how the process that the writer goes though involves thinking about how the reader will react, how they want the reader to react, and what is the point he/she is trying to get across, and additionally that the as the reader is reading, he/she is trying to understand what the writer is saying, where they are coming from, why they are saying what they are saying and how individual experiences come into play.

I found the section on how readers plan very fascinating because I think a lot of this is done subconsciously rather than actively engaging with their goal and the actual piece. Sometimes, as a reader, I just pick up a book to read because it looks interesting and I want to know what its about…but that doesn’t mean I am consciously categorizing the reasons I chose that specific book into procedural, substantive, or intentional goal. On the other hand, I do understand how writer’s goals are conscious and planned out – and they may appear half way though the piece…or maybe on the last line of the 6th page of your Shitty First Draft!

An interesting thought they touch upon is how readers should act as revisers as well. I didn’t agree with this at first because I think the revisions that the writers make are more utilized, however at the same time the revision process that the reader goes through, consciously or subconsciously, is important for themselves to recreate the feeling they have currently and to see how it changes in the future/when they reread the piece with more knowledge and insight- and sometimes even less! Tierney observed that students rarely pause to reflect on their ideas or figure out their perspective on a piece that they’re reading. I find this really interesting because I notice that I do this sometimes as well! I definitely want to try out revising while in the reader’s role!

I enjoy how Tierney and Pearson emphasize how reading and writing are intertwined processes and collaboration is necessary between the reader and writer in order to achieve the goal of the piece, whether it be actual feedback or on a more meta-level.