Writing 220 Remediation Idea: Emily Fishman

Hey y’all! I’ve been thinking about what I want to do for my remediation and I think there’s any idea with which I’m interested.

My repurposed piece is a mock-stylebook based on a piece I wrote for The Michigan Daily about my lack of creativity and my need for structure and a different way of thinking about the creative process. The stylebook is pretty referential and serves as a guide for how to write about not being able to write (as confusing as that is).

My current idea for my remediation piece is to take the stylebook that I have created and apply it to a fictional magazine or other publication. The piece would be a combination of prose and design elements: ideally, I would create two or so pages of the document and then “edit” them according to the stylebook repurposing piece. The “original” piece would have flaws and errors that are emblematic of my creative anxiety, and the “edited” version would indicate the superior skill set and perspective that I have after discovering my need for structure. This feels like a complement to the original, as the fictionalized publication would not be meant to stand on its own without the original stylebook. I’m excited to see where this piece takes me!


How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?

Sex and the City

It could be that I’ve been watching a lot of Sex and the City recently or that I’m still not over having written a 15-page paper last semester, but I can’t get the idea of writer’s block out of my head. I’ll start by sharing my own personal definition of what I believe to be “writer’s block.”

(noun) The maddening inability to translate one’s thoughts into words, or to even form these thoughts in the first place.

While I can’t pinpoint an exact instance where I suffered from writer’s block, I know that many of my peers have–including my roommate currently sitting next to me staring blankly at her computer screen, waiting for “inspiration to strike.” She feels creatively blocked, as if her brain is resisting any urge to form coherent thoughts. To me, this sounds physically and emotionally painful. And as I watch her opt for procrastination instead of perseveration, I wonder…how do you, as writers, overcome writer’s block?

Perhaps this post is a preventative call for help from fellow Minors before I dig even deeper into my Capstone project, but I do wonder if anyone would be willing to share their go-to process or activity for overcoming this terrifying condition–one that infects all writers: fiction and nonfiction, professional and amateur. It could be anything from meditating for 20 minutes (as I suggested to my roommate), going to the IM building for a quick workout, or even staring at your computer endlessly waiting until the thoughts start to flow.


Any and all tips are appreciated (and I’ll be sure to share them with my roommate).

Writing 220: Remediation Ideas – Max Rysztak

In thinking about my remediation for my essay on IDF militaristic development and potential US similarities, a couple of options stand out.

Firstly, I am most excited by translating my essay into a speech. I’ve always wanted to be a political/policy speechwriter and I think a translation would be a great use of this essay. There is a lot of potential for this to be a speech as it is already academic, well supported, and relevant. The biggest challenge in this idea, however, is getting the right tone as the setting for the speech would be undefined.

For the complement section, I think it would be interesting to dive deeper into one of the policial actors I analyze in my original piece. Since I look at 4 Haganah (and future IDF) leaders, I could create a complement piece in hopes of diving deeper into one of the leaders – providing a more immersive reading background.

I am less excited about the adaptation/inspiration areas of a potential remediation simply due to the topic of my original essay. A potential adaptation piece could be one of adapting an original essay into an informational video (widely available and easy to understand). This could serve as educating the masses by using visuals to help explain the complex geographic conflict. In terms of inspiration, I think that a potential fiction piece, maybe on an IDF soldier being inspired by the leadership of one of the military leaders has potential – in that the point of view of the soldier could be more deeply understood.

Shameless Plug: Call for Creative Nonfcition

Does prefacing something with shameless plug make it any less shameful? I’d like to think so, but then again, it might be like when someone says no offense and you brace yourself, because you know that means they’re about to say something offensive. On the other end of the spectrum, maybe a plug doesn’t need to have the word shameless in front of it, because asking for others to help you accomplish something shouldn’t be shameful in the first place?

Okay, anyway, let’s get to the part where I promote my self-interested agenda. After all, you must be interested in it if you clicked on this post knowing it was a shameless plug.

So, for my Capstone project, I am creating a handbook/book type thing tentatively called A Young Writer’s Guide to Creative Nonfiction. I want to use my experience as a young writer who primarily writes within this genre to help others learning the art of creative nonfiction. But, here’s the thing, what’s a guide without examples?

Yes, here it is: the shameless plug. I want to use your essays in my book, so that young writers can learn from the exemplary work of their peers. I’ve dropped the link below for the submission requirements and the licensing agreement. Please help a girl out and send me your creative nonfiction essays, so my Capstone will rock and I can graduate.



Blog Roundtable 1 – West Wing Weekly

I love Aaron Sorkin, so I really enjoyed hearing in this podcast about his writing process, and I’m hoping to hear your reactions to his thoughts. Three of Sorkin’s notes stick out most to me. He talks about the importance of writing something, anything, every day. This is a technique I’ve heard from other people, too, similar to reading. I’m wondering whether you are able to do this. If so, what kinds of topics/styles do you write every day, and do you ever have trouble finding the time to do it? Sorkin talks about how he tries to write every day even when he has time off—I also like how he breaks down his schedule. What is your style like? Do you outline thoroughly before you start, or do you jump in and write a full piece all the way through, or do you start writing and then organize your thoughts for a bit? Along those lines, Sorkin made the comment that it’s much better to be on page 2 then on page 0 (I can’t remember the exact quote). This is something that I identify with, because the toughest part about writing for me is definitely starting. I really struggle to write anything unless I think I have something that will stick, which I know is not usually the right approach. How do you both attack writing when you’re just starting out with something? I’ve been thinking about lots of these subjects over the past few days, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of them.


Paralleling the podcast is the idea that season 2 is a re-pilot show that reintroduces characters in an organic way. Both episodes of the podcast work to humanize TV and Hollywood, like West Wing might do with politicians (idk though, I don’t watch it). We listen and learn about how commercials affect viewer perception or hear actors revisit their own learning experiences on set. We’re so often only consuming the finish product. But Sorkin challenges the idea that a finish product even exists. He considers his writing as comprised mostly of first drafts. He insists rewriting is only necessitated by production. However, it can also be rewritten by the interpretation of actors, their body language, their costumes, etc. We understand this more clearly through Emily Procter’s experiences.  How may outside factors, besides professor/ peer suggestions, compel us to rewrite? Do you have concrete examples? I think we can also apply revisitation to people and the narratives we tell about ourselves. What have we encountered that compelled us to create a new narrative about ourselves? Where do we encounter these thins? And is that something we can somehow use to inform our writing decisions when we are attempting to be persuasive? Perhaps it’s a deep interrogation of ourselves we experience when we encounter competing arguments that represent generous listening. If we’re not doing that interrogative work, maybe it’s a sign that we’re not witnessing a balanced argument.

In some ways we can interpret “not knowing how it will end” vs. “knowing how it will end but not what’s in the middle” as inductive versus deductive reasoning. A concept in the scientific method has manifested itself in writing and the arts. This may help us think about the interdisciplinary nature of our world, similar to the spirituality Tippet brings into her conversations. We can use this as inspiration for our own projects when we’re seeking to engage in writing in a different way.

Sorkin believes that if an episode ends up being important it just turns out that way. I interpret this as a call to action. It’s an invitation to take risks. When we think about success, we might see it as antithetical to doing something are unfamiliar with. We face what seems like inevitable failure. But failure is what challenged Sorkin.

Sorkin provides us with a blueprint for being brave by encouraging risk and humanizing those we may disagree with. But where do we draw the line between humanizing groups of people/thinking of them as individuals and normalizing something we may think is toxic and oppressive? How do we accomplish this?

Blog Roundtable 1 (WWW)

Hi Friends! 

There are so many bits of tasty intellect to munch on from these two episodes– but I don’t want to indulge my inner “wing nut.” Instead, I want to keep this prompt more focused and narrow and tightly bound to our theme of “generous listening.” That said, what did you think were some strong or weak questions that Josh and Hrishi had to offer? Or rather, from the angle of “generous listening,” what were some moments (in either episode) that successfully illustrated this practice? In class I shared my criticism of Hrishi in his response to Emily’s thought about the possibility of the West Wing as perhaps, “american fantasy,” rather than “liberal fantasy.” But there were so many other highs and lows for you, Alison and Michael, to share! What jumps out at you?

West Wing Weekly Roundtable

So far we’ve talked a lot about the term “generous listening” coined by Krista Tippet in “Becoming Wise.” It seems like generous listening can take many forms. It can mean listening to someone intently, asking insightful and detailed follow up questions, or allowing oneself to listen to and truly experience a view different from our own.

The two assigned West Wing Weekly podcasts are excellent examples of generous listening. The hosts, Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway give their interviewees their full attention and develop interesting and precise questions to provoke great story-telling. In the first episode, they have on Aaron Sorkin, the writer of The West Wing. They question him about his writing process and about his workaholic habits. It is made evident by his responses that Sorkin himself also practices generous listening in order to write his hit TV show. As he experiences the world around him, he is constantly taking notes and developing them into story lines and he incorporates what is going on in the reality into his stories. He also demonstrates generous listening in his ability to represent two sides of an argument in the show. He states that he enjoys the sound of two smart competing arguments and that he fell in love with asking the question “Have you looked at this way?” This requires the ability to listen and develop further inquiries to opposing points of view, rather than simply coming up with counter-arguments to support his own views. Attention to detail is another key factor of generous listening. We hear Malina, Hirway, and Sorkin discuss the evolution of the opening score. They bring up minor changes, like the addition of instruments and better sound quality, as the show got more popular. This certainly is an example of generous listening! With Sorkin’s extreme attention to detail comes the habit, or curse, of infinitely nit-picking minute flaws to making tiny alterations to his work. He admits that he has not completed a single piece of writing that he would want to re-write. However, Sorkin does not have time to do this while juggling multiple TV show scripts. He must “point the camera at his first draft.”

In the second assigned episode, Malina and Hirway interview the actress, Emily Proctor. She demonstrates a similar attentiveness to detail as Sorkin. She admits that as she watched herself in a scene where she delivers an argumentative monologue aimed at tearing down her opponent, played by Rob Lowe, that she felt disappointed. She regrets the tone of voice she used to delivered her final punch line. Malina and Hirway disagree. They believe she delivered it perfectly. Proctor also reveals that she and her co-star John Spencer would practice scenes outside of rehearsals. This also shows just how careful the actors were about how they delivered their lines.

These artists have an ear for generous listening and are able to pick up on subtleties that often go unnoticed by ordinary people. This translates into their inability to be 100% pleased with much of their work. I can strongly relate to this, as I often wish I could go back and re-do most of what I have written in college.

Do you guys think that generous listening is unpractical in the rush of our busy everyday lives? Or can we channel our inner Sorkin and incorporate generous listening into our own writing and into our future projects in this class?

Guitar Strings and Clanging of the Keyboard

Guitar Strings and Clanging of the Keyboard

Beginning a paper may seem like a daunting task as I sit in the Union with my hot chocolate next to me, staring at a blank page on my laptop screen. Stress and anxiety begin to run from the top of my head to the tips of my feet, covering my whole body. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, plugging my headphones into my computer. Immediately, I turn on Simon & Garfunkel on Spotify, listening to “The Sound of Silence”, “Mrs. Robinson”, and then “The Boxer” while I plan out my paper. I am not sure why I am able to focus to Simon & Garfunkel and why I connect with their songs more than others, but I assume it is because their music is light and calming. They strum the guitar softly and sing tenderly.

As I listen, my mind begins to focus on the task at hand. I read the essay prompt and spend a few minutes thinking about how I am going to approach the prompt. I jot down my ideas with a pen in a notebook about what I want to argue and then draft a thesis statement. This process takes about 20 minutes to finish. I break up my ideas into paragraphs that will support the thesis by writing on the paper “Paragraph 1: ___, Paragraph 2: ____, Paragraph 3: _____”.

Next, I gather quotations that support each paragraph and mini argument. Before I begin typing the paper, I typically visit the GSI or Professor that will be grading my paper to discuss my ideas, show him or her my outline, and ask if I am on the right track. I also ask any other questions I may have. I find it extremely helpful talking out loud to a professional about my ideas and receiving feedback so that I can start my paper more confidently.

With feedback and the revised outline, I type all of the quotations as evidence and support on a Google document as my first typing step. After, I type the paper as fast as my fingers can move, getting out all of my ideas and plan without stopping for grammar or changing sentences. I cut and paste the quotations I typed when needed for evidence to support.

Once the rough draft is finished, I spend a lot of time editing the piece, changing what I feel I need to, whether it be changing sentence structure or using different evidence to support my argument. Once the piece is edited I re-read it multiple times, making even more edits. Lastly, the morning the paper is due, I read through it again a few times to double check one last time that there are not errors in the paper and everything flows smoothly. I print it and hand it in, praying to the high heavens that I will do well on it.

Minor In Writing Introduction – Elise Vocke

About the Author: Elise Vocke is currently a sophomore at the University of Michigan pursuing a degree in International Studies with the Sweetland Minor in Writing through the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. She also is receiving a Certification in Sales and Marketing from the Ross School of Business. She loves to sing and explore new places in her free time, while also catching up on Glee episodes on Netflix even though the show was popular a few years ago and is now over. Her favorite image of herself is picturing her walking around in a big city with stylish sunglasses and cute boots.


Further, she enjoys watching movies and musicals when she does not have commitments or homework. Some of her favorite movies include Dead Poet’s Society, It’s a Wonderful Life, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Amadeus, Irrational Man, Magic in the Moonlight, and Vicky Christina Barcelona. In her writing, she focuses mainly on historical fiction due to her love of learning about the past. She finds history classes so intellectually stimulating.
Elise is in the Sweetland Minor in Writing program because she can express herself in writing. She wants to hone in on being able to communicate her feelings and emotions effectively to her target audiences. Writing well is vital for being successful in any field. Not only that, but creative writing in particular is very enjoyable for her, and she can write in her spare time her entire life. As people get older, they are limited in the amount of physical activity they can do, but they will still be able to write whatever they desire.