Challenge Journal – Writing After College?

I’m not sure about anyone else, but I’m a just a little nervous for life post-grad. While I’m grateful that I have a job that I’m incredibly excited for, there’s a lot of things about college that I’m going to miss: waking up a little too late, staying up with my roommates just to talk, football games, walking in the diag, and, well, writing.

My college experience has been shaped by the writing that I’ve gotten to do – through classes (specifically the minor), my journal, and extracurricular activities. I’ve written for online magazines, for a startup, and for myself. I’ve found a place for writing because of my passion, but also because I’ve carved out the time for these activities. I’ve been passionate about writing from such a young age, and I know that’s not going to go away the minute I graduate from this University. But, what if I don’t have the time post-grad; no, what if I don’t make the time? In college, that time has been carved out for me, but not anymore.

I don’t think that my love for writing will necessarily go away, but I am scared that it will start to diminish until it’s really just me writing in my journal once every couple of days. How do you all plan to make time for writing post-grad when you’re balancing work, health, and a social life? How can we make sure that we don’t lose all of the progress we’ve made throughout our time at Michigan?

When do you know that you’re done?

Whenever I submit a paper or writing assignment, I have made sure to read and read and reread and then reread again each and every word/sentence to make sure its perfect. The Capstone project, however, has proven to be a bit different. While I’ve read through every post for my blog, I still don’t feel like they’re ready – does anyone else feel that way?

Recently, I had to submit a term paper for my major’s Capstone course. It was 10 pages (single-spaced!), and it was long. It was full of detail, and, naturally, I wanted to do well. I scrutinized that paper over and over again, reading it multiple times even when I didn’t make any edits. I could have been done at 9pm the night it was due, but instead I turned it in at 11:45.

I guess my question here is, how do you know when you’re done? The thing about writing is that it can always be read again. You could always make changes if you want to, so what’s another read through? How many read throughs is too many read throughs? It seems as though I adjust my piece every time I read through it – either changing an adjective or removing an article or removing an entire sentence. An essay or piece of writing can always be improved, right? So how do you know when to stop?

I’m hoping I figure it out soon! With the Capstone project due so soon, I’ve been thinking about my editing capabilities over the next couple of days. Anyways, I wish everyone the best of luck in the final stretch. I cannot wait to see everyone’s final product!

Hating it all?

Have you ever come to the end of the project, reread your work, and realized “I hate this?” I think I’m being a little dramatic, but it wouldn’t be Casey fashion if I weren’t overreacting a bit. However, I am running into a wall less than a week before the Capstone project is due. It’s not that I hate all of my work, I promise that I don’t – it’s just that, around this time of every project, I tend to second guess all of the hard work that I’ve put into a project.

When I was in English 325, I wrote a very personal essay about my relationship with my hometown and all of the people that I grew up with. I was so proud of my work, until the night before it was due, I decided to revamp a majority of the essay, not sharing all of the details that I originally intended to. Looking back on it, I wish I would’ve included those details, but in a better, more concise yet also detailed, way. I hated my work, but then I hated it even more when I didn’t include all of those details – so, maybe I’m wondering how you function when you think you hate your work?

Do you continue to power through – trusting yourself and your story? Do you play devil’s advocate and go through all of your work with a fine tooth comb until you’re happy with the final result? Not sure what I’ll end up doing, but curious to know if anyone else feels this way!

Lack of Visual Creativity?

I’m not sure if anyone else is finding this to be a challenge, but my inability to navigate any website online is starting to cause a few issues. To provide a bit of context, I’m creating a blog on Wix, which doesn’t sound like it would be that hard (I mean, I blog in my free time on a Weebly site, so I decided to give Wix a try- how hard could it be). Right now, I’m wishing I decided to stick with Weebly. First off, I’m having a bit of trouble with the site. My blog posts keep saving, but not in the right place. Has anyone else had this happen before? If so, how did you fix it? While this has kept me up a few nights, it’s not even the worst of it.

The biggest problem I’m running into is how to make my posts visually appealing. I had the exact same problem in my Gateway portfolio. I never knew how to align the text, insert photos, or provide the reader with a certain “vibe.” I was constantly told to center my texts, or provide more white space, or insert a photo that I took instead of a stock picture. It was the hardest thing for me. And sadly, I’m running into that problem again with my Capstone project. While I have a better idea of the “vibe” that I’m going for (bright colors with lots of white space and photos of myself and my friends), I’m still figuring out how to align text on my page so that it’s appealing to read. I’m thinking about going through my Gateway portfolio to figure out what I finally did to be successful, as well as other portfolios on the Minor in Writing site to get some ideas. If anyone else has tips, I would love to hear them!

I hope everyone is chugging along in these last couple of weeks. I cannot wait to see all of your finished portfolios. Best of luck writing!

What if no one cares?

I remember the first couple weeks of our capstone classes. We talked about what makes a project so successful, and we all landed on that you have to be invested in the topic that you’re writing about – you have to care. I saw this passion in so many projects – from the Sinking Cities project to Michelle Kuo’s Reading with Patrick. The creators of these projects were so passionate, and I could tell that I began to have a passion for their various topics, as well. That’s what makes these projects so successful in my eyes- the writers care, but so does the audience.

I don’t know when this unbearable fear of no one caring about my work became something I thought about constantly when writing, but I do think I know where it started. I was delivering a speech at my high school graduation, and I wanted as much feedback on it before speaking in front of the entire school. I had SO many people read my speech, and every time they gave it back to me, it was covered in red corrections. I usually didn’t mind and loved the feedback, but I remember one point of feedback I had gotten – “are you sure you don’t want to talk about something else?” I was mortified- was the content of my speech so unbearable that I should write something else?

I don’t know why, but I’ve carried that with me. I carried it into every college writing class. I couldn’t help it- I was always thinking “what if no one cares?” That’s the worst possible feedback I can get. I would rather have someone hate my work- at least it raises a reaction.

I think this Capstone project is making me incredibly nervous because it’s a topic that I care so deeply about, but I have never written about. Does anyone actually care about holistic health (besides the people in the holistic community?) I’m not really sure, but I guess I’ll find out. If anyone has any idea how to mitigate writing fears such as this, please let me know!

Challenge Journals: Writing Rituals and Confidence?

After reading Twyla Tharp’s chapter on Rituals, I began to think about all of the rituals in my life. As I shared with Julie, my day always starts off with a glass of warm, lemon water. Before I run, I stretch out my quadriceps for 45 seconds, each. I have always thought that these mindless actions were just a part of my life, but I now realize that they’re rituals, and I now realize why I do them.

I have long struggled with confidence. I don’t think many people would believe me when I say that, as I am usually one of the loudest people in the room at all times. I attribute that to my uncanny ability to “fake it till I make it” – I will forever be a believer in that phrase. This lack of confidence, however, has transferred over to my writing, as well. I’ve been blogging under a password protected website for over 4 months… I clearly have something to say but am so nervous to say it. And that’s what I’m nervous about for this course, this project, this Capstone. What if people don’t like what I say? What if they think that I’m wrong? What if I don’t make sense? What if..?

Now let’s take a step back to rituals and talk about one of my favorites. Before a career ending injury during my junior year of high school, I played basketball religiously. One of my favorite things to do: shoot free throws. Why? It was monotonous for sure, but I knew one thing when I stepped up to the line- if I dribbled the ball twice with my right hand, spun it around, and took a deep breath before shooting…that ball was going into the basket, and I was going to get 1 more point next to my name in the stat book. A ritual that gave me confidence… could that transfer to writing?

I hope so, and I guess I’ll found out this semester. As Tharp mentioned, getting in the cab started her routine, just as dribbling the ball twice started mine. These rituals instilled confidence, and the rest was second nature. I’m hoping my writing rituals will start to do the same. As I mentioned, I attribute a lot to smells, so maybe I’ll start associating a vanilla cupcake candle with confidence.

If anyone has any other advice for instilling confidence in my writing, please do share! 🙂

It’s Over?

I just read through my last edit of my portfolio, and I am honestly shocked that the year is over. I haven’t had a class like the MiW Gateway before, and I am so sad to see it go. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to create content that isn’t standardized and to have had the opportunity to learn with my amazing classmates in Gateway.

I’m very curious to see where the MiW takes me next. I’m currently enrolled in 325, so that Art of the Essay is next on my list. But, after meeting with other Capstone students at the portfolio showcase, I am so excited to get back into a specific MiW class.

So, thanks again MiW, you’ve been good to me.

Form Modification: Case Studies

After Raymond said “Think of something you don’t like and try to modify it,” my brain automatically went to the case studies that I encounter on a daily basis. I don’t like how these studies are set-up to give students information, as I think they lack all of the information that students actually need to learn. Let’s think about a basic case study- you’re given company background, information on the company’s competition, current problems, financial information, and goals- nothing else. To me, this is inherently wrong. How are students supposed to learn about how to solve a company problem when they aren’t given any insight into company dynamics, firm positives, firm negatives, etc. I don’t think it’s possible to learn “business” in these settings.
I think case studies should be introduced to students in a sort of “live role play” type approach. I genuinely think that in order for someone to really learn about a company, they have to be shown the dynamics in a personal, emotional way. Some may disagree, but I think this is a pivotal part of learning.
Don’t get me wrong- I 100% think that case studies can teach you how to solve business problems. But, to actually learn something about business, you have to be placed in the setting- understand the problem and everything that goes into it- not just the qualitative/quantitative information.

Who Can You Trust? Me…I hope.

Would my portfolio be different? 

My repurpose is the reason my portfolio is the way it is, in my opinion. If I wouldn’t have chosen to repurpose an academic piece that has underlying notions of feminism, I don’t think my portfolio would have dragged out a personality trait in me that I’ve been trying to express in my writing for a long time. I am opinionated, as it comes off in my repurpose, and I definitely think I have a lot to say; and, I think that stems from the personality traits that come out in my Why I Write, For me, it’s interesting to see how my repurpose had the ability to mold my portfolio into the way that it is.

If I had not chosen to repurpose my communications paper, I would have repurposed a piece on The Odyssey, specifically on the character of Andromache. Andromache, for those who do not know, is the wife of Hector, who gets killed during the epic. I wrote a piece on her dependency on her husband and how society molded this dependency. Thus, I think my portfolio would have been much more professional, academically- driven. I had planned to repurpose my piece by writing a certain commentary on society and how it affects literature, and I think that would have driven my whole portfolio in a professional manner rather than a very personal piece.

How much do you trust yourself in your assessment of why you write? 

I, personally, trust myself a pretty good amount in my assessment of why I write. I know for a fact that I don’t write because I think I’m the world’s greatest gift to literature- that’s just not true. I know that I write solely for me and how it makes me feel, and I think that comes off directly in my why I write piece. I think it’s really interesting because my Why I Write actually pulled out personality traits in me that I always knew I had, but I never had the courage to admit. I think it’s really powerful that this was able to come about just by contemplating writing in general. So, I trust myself, but I hope my audience does, as well.

Writing Categories: Casey Lyons

  1. Voice
  2. Composition/Environment
  3. Prose
  4. Idea/Concept 

The most important aspect of my portfolio is my voice- my audience has to understand who I am, and that has to come off in my writing if my idea is going to work at all. I’m hoping that the style of my portfolio (environment) is indicative of who I am as a person so that it amplifies the voice in my writing even more. As for the prose, the lax approach is very “Casey,” but I’m worried it’s going to rub readers in the wrong way- either they’ll love it or they’ll hate it, and I’m not sure exactly what will happen. I’m afraid that my idea is also a bit controversial, and I’m not sure if asserting my personality on a controversial idea is the best approach. I have a few reservations about my portfolio in regards to style- too many picture from Europe? Can you really guess anything about someone’s personality from pictures of coffee? -but I am hoping those are offset with my work. Excited/nervous to see how it’ll play out!