Inviting Someone Else to Make My Decision…

I always find that the best ideas are discovered after hearing someone else’s perspective. I actually had thought up one or two ideas of my own before walking into class; however, as I began conversing with Jessica about each of them, the ideas finally seemed to come to life. Before immediately jumping into my project ideas, I described a couple of my passions to Jessica, allowing her to get to know me better, considering we hadn’t known each other before this class. Actually, I began our conversation with something like, “my favorite ideas are the ones that come from something small about yourself…something so particular or quirky or different that you never knew you could elaborate on; yet, you somehow find a way to spiral the topic into an entire project!” I was excited when Jessica seemed to agree with me and jumped on my bandwagon. So although we shared our general interests with one another, including our majors and our future goals, we also tried to steer away from those simple questions and instead, go for something more fun…more weird. Not only did it get my mind rolling, but it got hers going in all different directions, as well.

 

Jessica seemed to really like my two original ideas, so we decided to go off of those and see what else we could add to spice them up. My first idea was to bring back my college app. essay, which was all about my height. Not only am I little physically, but I’m little mentally, as well, in the sense that I refuse to give up Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or any cartoon for that matter. More importantly, I absolutely love the “little things” in life- you know, like the cold side of the pillow or that first sip of water in the morning. Jessica loved my use of the word “little” and suggested that I could maybe do a spin off from my college essay or even an addition, which would combine all of these “little” areas. However, I then threw at her my second, very different idea: Branding ourselves through Instagram. I explained how I wrote an old paper on reality TV stars and how they “brand” themselves by coming up with an entire character that the public can easily latch onto. I then said how it’s not just celebrities anymore- it’s us. WE brand ourselves. WE create the persona that we wish the public to see and we do this all through Instagram (or Facebook for that matter). Jessica liked this idea, as well, and how it relates to every college student, including herself.

 

In considering how passionate and indecisive I was about both topics, Jessica told me I should try and combine the ideas somehow. I thought this was a great idea! Together, we brainstormed what I could do and what kind of final project I could create. I had already told Jessica that I wanted to steer away from using a Prezi or making a movie, since I had explored those forms of media plenty throughout my college career. Jessica suggested I do something more meaningful to me. For example, if I were to go more in the Instagram direction, how could I personalize the project? She brought up my dream of wanting to be a kindergarten teacher, and suggested I create some sort of children’s picture book. I thought this was a great idea…although, children’s books are much harder to create than they look. It would be a daunting task, considering I am no artist, but it could turn out really awesome. Jessica also mentioned how it could technically be teaching younger kids a lesson: to appreciate the little things in life! Thus, she was able to bring in my first idea, as well! Things were getting good…

 

Based on this experience, I will make sure to listen to someone’s interests, no matter how simple or on the surface they are, and take every little aspect of their life into consideration before giving them advice- something so basic, such as your major, could actually create the most intriguing idea in the end of the day. Yeah, I may have jumped right into the whole “quirky” thing too quickly, but at least it helped Jessica with her own project ideas! Yet, for me, I wouldn’t have even thought about bringing my love for children and teaching into the picture unless Jessica had suggested it. I think Jessica is right- I think there is a way I can combine both of my ideas, since I really do love them both. I am going to think about everything she suggested and go from there – hopefully it’ll all work out!

The Power of Perspectives

I have an actual, debilitating fear of choosing a topic. The amount of times I’ve complained, “I don’t know what to write about” too anyone in the nearest vicinity is embarrassingly high. The majority of my stress comes from not actually completing an assignment, but from getting to a point where I feel excited and confident about a topic. So, I must say, I am a huge proponent of this “Making Another Writer’s Decisions” activity.

During the “interview” Kaitlin picked up on several topics that I would have never thought to be interesting enough to consider. For example, I live in a house with 10 girls, and as an out of state college student I have not been home in a full year. From a fresh, outside perspective Kaitlin found these statements to be interesting and unique, whereas I would have seen them as normal and mundane. She suggested writing a series of short stories about living with 10 girls, or a blog for out of state college students documenting my journey thus far.

It was not until the very end of the interview that I mentioned I actually had an interest in expanding on a piece I wrote about my experiences studying in Belgium last semester. I think if I had shared this at the beginning it would have hindered many of Kaitlin’s other exciting ideas. In the future, I want to continue this technique when soliciting advice. With less guidance and foreshadowing the advice becomes more unique and different from your own thoughts.

I can’t say that I came away with an exact project that I want to pursue; however (and more importantly for someone like myself) I came away with numerous subjects that I am excited to choose from. I now have a large bank of topics that I would have never considered when brainstorming on my own. What shape and form these topics will take I still don’t know, but at least now I have exciting topics to shape and form.

Making Another Writer’s Decisions

My conversation with Patrick helped me generate creative ideas for my project. Brainstorming is freer, more imaginative, innovative and far-reaching when two brains are working together rather than one. I found that I was able to generate many more ideas with Patrick’s creative juices jiving with mine – ideas that were likely richer in quality and potential than I may have otherwise been able to generate alone. My experience brainstorming with Patrick confirms the power of reflective teamwork and the capabilities of an idea.

The way in which Patrick and I brainstormed was fluid and natural. We did not try to contrive ideas for one another right from the get-go. Rather, we conversed about our interests, passions, our favorite pieces of past writing and our inspirations. I shared with him that some of my favorite pieces of writing were intensely personal – writing about myself (introspective work), writing about my family and really, anything that is honest and blunt. We connected on the basis that both of us prefer bluntness in writing. I then expressed my love for music and the power that music has on me as a calming agent. Ironically and luckily, Patrick is also a music buff. It was through our shared interests, mutual understanding and genuine learning of one another that sparked thoughtful conversation and strong areas of consideration for the project.

 

Patrick and I generated the below list of ideas:

 

List of ideas:

  • Children’s book
  • Music and the expression of the self
  • Stand up comedy
  • An Advice column
  • Write an album’s lyrics…a theme behind the album and then a story told through the album (Essentially a collection of poems)
  • Spoken word song—example: Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen-Baz Luhrmann
  • What makes people tick? What is happiness? Interviewing people who share different definitions of happiness…compilation of their interviews

I feel as though I have some possible solutions to this open project prompt. Many of the ideas we thought through resonate with me because they are personal. These ideas would blend well with my previous favorite writing pieces and would also add to my portfolio of work. Patrick suggested that I work with music in some form – either that I actually write music or write lyrics to an album. I love the idea of writing lyrics to an album. As a child, I was always a big Eminem fan…I loved the honesty of his lyrics and the storyline as each track progressed. I think it could be cool to write a series of songs – an album for all intents and purposes – that tells some kind of personal story. I could write the lyrics and even at some point create the music itself. This seems like a doable idea. It’s definitely one I am highly considering moving forward. This idea sparked some other thoughts in my mind. I have always been a fan of spoken word poetry and poetry slams. I could put together a video of the most powerful acts I’ve seen in order to make a larger statement about passions, life struggles and overcoming adversity. I would then try to film myself making my own “poetry slam” which would be the final thought of the video. Alternatively, I can treat this as a piece of writing instead of a video. I can quote the most powerful bits of writing from poetry slams, pulling from the existing talent, and add my own perspective. Essentially, I would be accessing inspirational words as a platform from which to build a larger conversation.

I’ve learned that the best advice comes from sharing interests. By being open. Because all people appreciate honesty. Patrick was able to play up my love for music and my writing style in order suggest the most helpful ideas. I feel like I have some direction moving forward.

Making Another Writer’s Decisions

I’m a pretty controlling person. I like to be in charge, and I don’t like to be told what to do. So when Shelley introduced this activity to the class, I was a bit skeptical. Our final project — the capstone of the capstone class — is an important one, to say the least. It needs to be perfect; it needs to be uniquely mine. I questioned whether somebody other than me could brainstorm topics that I’d actually consider.

Upon completing the activity, I was pleasantly surprised. After listening to my likes, dislikes, etc., my partner seemed to really understand the types of writing I prefer, and the ways I can push myself to try new things.

The suggestion I’m leaning furthest towards is this:

“Observe a person of interest for a day, noting their hobbies, habits, routine, etc. and create an article based on their experiences of particular events.” 

I think that this suggestion works best with my particular interests and skills, as I hope to someday become a journalist. Additionally, my favorite writing assignments have been ones where I have creative flexibility, notably those in my Art of the Essay class, where I practiced writing creative nonfiction. This topic suggestion combines those two genres (journalism and creative nonfiction) to create something unique, interesting, and challenging.

Of course, I’ll continue to brainstorm on my own, but this activity has provided me with some great places to start.