Writer’s Block

As a last semester senior, I rewarded myself with a nice, long week off for Thanksgiving. With this lovely vacation, I promised myself that I would write immense amounts for my capstone project. However, I had reached a point in my writing where I was absolutely, completely, totally stuck.

Every time I opened up that word doc, hoping that a fresh day and a fresh perspective would suddenly bring about free-flowing thoughts and words, I was still stuck. After multiple failed attempts, I simply decided to skip over that area and jump to the next section of my project.

That worked. I was able to do a lot of writing on the next part and was happy with what I produced. I was sure that after completing that section, I would be able to go back to the previous one and beat that writer’s block once and for all.

But nope.

So… HELP! What do you guys do when you’re stuck? How do you become unstuck? What do you do when the idea of writing what you need to write immediately makes you exhausted and unmotivated?

Book Recommendations Anyone?

Hello fellow writing minors! My mom has always taught me that the best way to learn how to write is to read. And seeing how we’re all a bunch of writers, I figured this blog would be a good place to seek out some reading recommendations.

I am specifically looking for memoir recommendations. For my capstone project I am writing a memoir. I would like to continue writing the memoir after the semester is over and would appreciate some reading inspiration. I’m not looking to read a memoir written by someone who was famous – since I’m not famous – and so fame will not be the reason my memoir is successful. Rather, I am looking for a memoir that was successful because the writer had a story worth telling and told it well.

That being said… with vacation coming up… feel free to comment if you have any book recommendations in general! It would be great if you could elaborate a bit on what it’s about/ why you liked the book. Hopefully this will be useful for anyone looking for some book recommendations as well!

PSA: Sorry For Ignoring Your Email

I hate email. When I get a text, I can respond instantaneously, with putting as little thought as possible into my wording. In fact, when I get a text, it is almost impossible for me to resist the urge to respond immediately. But emails – emails I absolutely loathe responding to. I can never send an email until I’ve read it over at least three times. No matter the importance of the email, I guess I consider an email to be more “permanent” than a text, and any permanent form of writing requires all of my attention. I accumulate thousands of emails that I never respond to, in order to avoid that extra ounce of care and effort.

But despite my absolute hatred of email, and despite the 6,382 unread emails on my phone (that will remain unread for the rest of eternity), I consider my email exchanges with my mom to be significant in my development as a writer. While writing my Writer’s Evolution essay, my email exchanges with my mom kept popping into my head. I continuously rid the thought from my mind, not because it would contradict the argument of paper, but simply because it didn’t seem to have a place in my paper.

My mom and I email about everything. What most mothers and daughters would call about, text about, or simply get up and go into the next room about, my mom and I will oftentimes send an email about instead. We’ve fought in email. We’ve made up in email. We’ve written each other love letters in email.

As emails least biggest fan, I did not start this email routine with my mom. That was all her. But I think it truly benefited me as thinker and as a writer.

Through fighting in email, my mom and I avoid many of the unnecessary stages of an argument. Often in an argument, you start by yelling out everything you don’t actually mean, you spend the next hour apologizing for all the things you didn’t actually mean, and then the last hour arguing about what you actually meant to argue about. My mom and I skip to the last part. Through taking the time to write an email, we sort out our thoughts, and are better able to convey our grievances. I’ve learned how to form an argument and how to respond appropriately to a verbal attack.

Our loving emails and supportive emails, are oftentimes also far more helpful than a quick “I love you” text or a nice 2-minute phone call. When I get an email from my mom after I’ve had a tough day, or before I have an important interview, it has a powerful impact on me. Knowing that someone was thinking of me, without me being on the other line of the phone, is meaningful to me. Being able to re-read her words in times of need is something I cherish.

Emailing back and forth with my mom has contributed to the immense value that I place on writing. I have learned to value taking the time to formulate my thoughts before expressing them. I have learned the powerful impact that a message can have when it’s thoughtfully written out and not simply spoken. And hopefully, one day I will learn how to respond to the rest of my unread emails. Don’t hold your breath.

Hello, Goodbye

I wish I could cheerfully introduce my writing portfolio, as it is something that I have poured my heart into, but I cannot help but feel sad as I am writing my last post on this blog (at least for the time being).

This semester was incredible, shoutout to Fall 2014 Cohort, you guys have been amazing to work with! I can pretend that this is the first time I am introducing you to my portfolio, but the reality is, you have been there every step of the way. So thank you for your support and feedback.

To the rest of the MIW Community, I cannot wait to take a look at what you have all been creating, and I hope you find this glimpse into my life meaningful as well.

Dive in: http://nsteinb.wix.com/ninasteinberg1

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Caring is for Sharing

Dear Future Minor in Writing Students,

Congratulations! Welcome to your journey as a writer.

I am sure you have written many essays in the past and have even taken other writing courses at the University of Michigan. Those classes may have been focused on any number of topics, but this class is different. This class is about building up you, your brand, your writing persona.

So take advantage of the “you” time.

Creating an EPortfolio gives you the opportunity to showcase yourself and something you care about. So make sure that everything you write for this class is meaningful to you. This isn’t an essay to hand into a teacher and never read again. This is work that you will share with your classmates, that you will discuss all semester, and that you will pass along to your friends and even potential employers.

They say sharing is caring. I would like to argue that caring is for sharing. Dedicate your time to something you are passionate about and you will be excited by every opportunity to share your work.

Sharing_is_caring

Good luck and make the most of you.

Writing: Reality Check

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jenniferschaffer/being-a-writer-on-screen-vs-being-a-writer-in-reality

This may be more of a comment on the ridiculousness of telvesion than a comment on the ridiculousness of writing, but nonetheless, my bold statement about writing is based on the Buzzfeed article linked above.

Late night writing is not Carrie Bradshaw sitting in her glamorous New York City apartment, cuddled up in her glamorous shawl, calmly typing away on her computer.

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Late night writing looks a lot more like this shirtless, frustrated, anti-glamorous man.

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And writer’s block is not cured by a moment of thought and reflection in a quiet, peaceful room…

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Only a box of Cheez-its, coco puffs, or Pringles can cure this sort of obstacle

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So make sure you actually love to write before you decide to be a writer. You may lose some of your glamour and gain a pound or two, but if you love it, it’s worth it.

Woof, Meow, Oink, Rawr

If you looked at my Instagram newsfeed, you wouldn’t know that I had any human friends. You can often catch me making gushy baby noises at my phone screen. It’s embarrassing. But I can’t suppress the squeal that bubbles out of me when I see a cute little pig dressed up in a pretty, pink dress with matching pretty, pink slippers. I spend my free time watching videos of puppies cuddling with each other, and of lion cubs play-fighting and bathing each other with endless licks.

My favorite animal Instagram accounts:
1. BlackJaguarWhiteTiger – This guy rescues animals from captivity. His “kids” are his jaguars, lions, tigers, and dogs. He posts tons of videos every day, of his animals playing with each other, and playing with him. They lick him and tackle him and cuddle with him. It’s incredible. And despite the fact that he bomboards my newsfeed with posts, I just can’t get enough.

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2. JMarcoz – This guy breeds the most adorable English and French Bulldogs. These pups are silly and full of mischievous ideas. Some of the videos are addicting and I have re-watched them over a hundred times (not an exaggeration).

3. Prissy_Pig – This Instagram features two pigs: Priscilla and Poppleton. Their mommy dresses them up in the cutest outfits and they accompany her to teach her first grade class every day. I would do anything to go back to first grade and land myself in this class. This account is the reason I go to sleep smiling every night.

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4. Smushball – This cat is spoiled. He belongs to Dan Bilzerian’s ex-girlfriend. He chills with models, guns, and always wears the most ridiculous expressions.

These are just some of my favorites. I would think twice before following them, because if you love animals as much as I do, prepare to have your life taken over by these irresistible creatures!

WHERE I Write

I’ve written about why I write, so I figured it would be appropriate to write about where I write.

Last year, I did all of my work in Ross. I had the Winter Garden for when I was working on collaborative projects, or for when I didn’t mind all the noise and chaos around me. I had the private study rooms that I could book for both group projects and serious quiet study time. And most importantly, I had the 4th floor of the Kresge library to study in complete and utter silence – where I always knew there would be a spot for me to get my work done, in my own little cubicle, with my friends sitting around me working as well.

Since they knocked down Kresge, Ross has been rendered useless to me. The Winter Garden is more chaotic than ever before, the study rooms are always booked, and Kresge no longer exists. This has forced me to walk long distances to find spots to get my work done. I have been very angry about this as it applies to every other class, but for my writing, I have appreciated this change of scenery.

When writing my Project II, I wrote in spots scattered all around campus. I wrote on the third floor of the Ugli, in the reading room, in the comfy chair angled with a view outside the window, overlooking the diag. I wrote in my bed, cuddled up with a mug of coffee, snuggled into my blankets. I wrote in the Law Quad, in am enormous but silent room. I wrote in class, with my finance teacher droning on in the background. I wrote in my living room, splayed out on the couch, chatting with my roommates between paragraphs. I wrote everywhere I could.

Turning back to my essay at many different points of time, from all of these varying vantage points, I was able to bring a refreshing perspective to my paper over and over again. I found that writing in different places helped me view my paper from all angles. This helped me to remember things I would have otherwise forgotten, to edit my paper in different mindsets, and to include everything that was most meaningful to me. It allowed me to write in more chipper moods, in more serious moods, in more relaxed times and in more stressed times. And I think my paper truly saw the benefits of this varied experience.

So if the school hasn’t already done it for you, “demolish” your version of the 4th floor of Kresge. Go out and write all over campus and you will see the difference in your writing.

“I’ve always been famous, it’s just no one knew it yet” – Lady Gaga

I really appreciated having my Project II workshopped, because not only did I get to share an experience that means a lot to me, but I got feedback that helped me improve something I care about.

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of a lot of the feedback I received, was that there was nothing I could do about it. I was asked to write an entire book, I was asked to add more stories, and I was asked to elaborate on every detail. And trust me, I wanted to!!! While this was not possible within the time constraints of Project II, I decided that my Project III should not only re-mediate, but give more as well.

For my Project III, I will be putting together a video clip that is in the format of a Fan Q&A. Famous authors and actors often have sessions where their fans submit questions for them to answer. For an author, these questions are usually personal, and pertaining to their vision of their characters. For example, many fans probably want to know what Hermione’s favorite snack is, and if the books didn’t share that information, J.K. Rowling would be the only person they could ask. I plan to watch a bunch of these Fan Q&A’s so that I can draw from them the types of questions I should answer. I also plan to draw the majority of the questions from what I wrote down during the in-class workshop, as well as the feedback letters that everyone in the class wrote to me.

I’m really excited to be able to cover exactly what it is that everyone wanted to know. And I am even more excited to make my first iMovie project that isn’t all about squirrels!

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Time to dive back into these feedback letters…

Ignorance…

When it comes to grammar, the better question is, what doesn’t irk me? I am very easily irritated when someone makes obvious grammatical errors. If a stranger makes a grammatical error in one of our first encounters, I cannot help but knock them down a notch in my head.

My friend once told me that he feels he should not be penalized for what he does not know but was never taught. There are many instances in which I would agree with this statement. If you haven’t heard of a certain architect, artist, or author, that is entirely forgivable. But as college students, we do have an obligation to seek out certain types of knowledge. For example, it is our responsibility to know how to speak English. If you grew up in America, and attend the University of Michigan, and you were somehow never taught how to speak English, I would suggest you take the initiative to teach yourself. Know the difference between there, their, and they’re. Never forget, anyways is not a word!

Finally, once you learn the rules… feel free to break them!!! Breaking the rules can help add flavor and style to your writing. Just make sure you know the rules before you break them, so that breaking them is intentional and sophisticated, not ignorant and misplaced.

And their is my rant.

(jk)

there*