McDonalds? More like McWriting! #rayray

I’m joining the chorus of Minors blogging about Professor Maria Cotera’s Writer to Writer presentation at the Literati book store in downtown Ann Arbor. The first thing I want to say is that I am really happy I went for the sole reason that I got to experience a venue and an event that I will probably never visit again. By that I mean that if I weren’t in the Minor in Writing program, I would have had no interest, motivation, or idea that event like this was happening at a bookstore on a random Thursday night. Not only does the Minor give you the opportunity to explore yourself through our class assignments, but also to seek out new ways to widen your scope of the local writing community. I went to a reading for Ray’s book during the Gateway Course ([PIKA!]) at the Vault of Midnight comic book store, so the Minor has exposed me to events and places I had no idea even existed. So, thanks Sweetland and the MIW program!

Now to Professor Cotera’s presentation. Everybody else on the blog has talked about Professor Cotera’s message on being passionate about what you’re writing about. I couldn’t agree more with what she and everybody else has said–being passionate about what you are doing, whether it is your writing, your career, your hobby, or your social life, is of the utmost importance. How can you expect people to read your writing when you wouldn’t want to read it yourself?

However, I want to blog about something different. She talked a lot about her mother and how she learned to love the writing process by watching her mother write at McDonald’s on scratch paper. She then proceeded to talk about how some of the best writing nowadays is happening on blogs–more blogging=more writing, and as she said, writing a lot is the best way to become a good writer. Ray then asked the question about whether Professor Cotera missed anything about the era where people were writing on scratch paper and napkins instead of blogs and the Internet. I’ve thought about the same question myself before because I constantly find myself distracted when I type on my computer. With ESPN, Buzzfeed, and Twitter just a click away, I often find myself procrastinating when my writing stalls or the going gets tough. These moments are crucial to a writer; as Professor Cotera says, when things aren’t making sense, when you feel like you are stuck, that is when you will really start figuring out the direction your writing is going. Sometimes I think it would be simpler just to have you, a pen, paper, some light, and your thoughts (yes, I know I can do this nowadays too. But with endless distractions and the craziness that is college life, as well as the fact that most assignments are due online/via electronic word processors, I often find it challenging to find self-restraint when I work on a computer).

So, I’m wondering if anybody else has these same thoughts. Do you think writing would be better or worse if you could just write all of your assignments with pen and paper? Like Professor Cotera’s mom, do you have a  “McDonalds” that you consider your personal safe haven for writing? How do you deal with the inevitable distractions of working on a laptop, computer, iPad, etc? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

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3 thoughts to “McDonalds? More like McWriting! #rayray”

  1. Mark,

    I really like the question that you have presented. Being one that is technologically inept for the most part, I can completely sympathize with the notion that writing would be more efficient and pure without the inevitable distraction of typing on a computer and having the Internet just a click away. I like to think that writer’s block and procrastination are hurdles that all writers face, not just myself. Wouldn’t things be so much simpler if we didn’t have a Facebook newsfeed or Twitter followers to turn to when our thought process disintegrates? I’d certainly like to believe so. Thus, I agree with you that it was very nice to hear Maria reflect on her childhood and early memories of her mother, even if did of course relate back to the golden arches and the home of the Big Mac. However, it seems safe to say that for once, McDonald’s was able to supersize something other than one’s waistline. It supersized the thoughts of a writer, which was great to hear.

  2. Hi Mark,

    I am so glad that you brought this aspect of Maria’s speech up because I thought this was one of the most interesting things she spoke about. The image of her mother writing novels by hand in the Mcdonald’s play pen while her children played on the playground was very unique and it really made me think about my writing process. I agree with you that I often wish the Internet did not exist so that we would be able to write with simply pen and paper and our thoughts without so many other distractions. I definitely find that when I sit down away from my computer and my phone and just write out my thoughts by hand that I write much differently and sometimes more effectively. I like to plan and outline all of my ideas out by hand first before I get anywhere near the computer. It also makes me think about the idea that Ray proposed about having a class where there was no laptops/email involved, simply writing with paper and pen. This is something that I would love to try to see how my writing has changed.

    p.s. Benji – love the supersized comment

  3. I honestly think that writing would perhaps be a bit deeper if everything was written on pen and paper. This is not to say that writing does not go deep for certain individuals. I am just saying that I think the back space button is to easy to use. However, I never write with just pen and paper because that takes me much more time than I budget into my life. As for my personal McDonald’s, when I need to get serious writing done I go to the reading room in the Law Quad. It is so beautiful in here and quiet it actually inspires me to write sometimes.

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