Our Writing Spaces – Challenge Journal

Earlier this semester, we were asked to discuss our writing rituals. For almost all of college, my writing ritual has been the same. An almond milk Spanish latte and one of the booths at the Espresso Royale on South University is exactly what I need to put pen to paper. If I’m there in the morning and it’s sunny, I’m even more productive!

These have been my “rules” for quite some time. I haven’t been tempted to tamper with it, as I didn’t know if it could get much better. However, senioritis called for drastic measures to be taken. Even this beloved ritual did not give me the motivation I needed to work on my project. So, I started to experiment with music. I found words to be distracting, so I tried to limit it to classical music. This didn’t seem to increase my creativity, so I kept looking.

I eventually landed on a “writing inspiration” playlist on Spotify and wow. I’ve never been able to focus for so long. It was like words were magically appearing on my screen. While I’m not sure if my productivity was a direct result of this playlist, I know that this will definitely be something I incorporate into my writing ritual in the future. Has anyone else’s rituals changed as this course has progressed? Why? How?

When are you done? – Challenge Journal #4

As I enter the last two weeks of college, I am both excited and scared. I’m excited to (finally!) be done cramming for exams, classes, and assignments. I’m curious to see how my education will come into play as I begin a career as a scientist. Quite frankly, I can’t wait to see how my life will play out. However, around all of this excitement comes a lot of fear.

What if I don’t like what I’m doing? What if I’m not successful?

In fact, the thoughts that seem to currently be surrounding my capstone project seem to mimic my feelings about the next steps in my life.

There are parts of my project that I adore, but there are also the parts that I still find myself doubting.

I’m choosing to get excited about my incorporation of media, my color scheme, and my layout. While these greatly contribute to a project’s success, it is truly the content/project at hand. Similarly, I’m looking forward to finding an apartment, making new friends, and living an “adult” life. I’m focused on the superfluous things. How can I dive deeper?

How can I feel confident and complete with my writing? How can I address and confront the issues that lay in the portion of my project that actually possesses content? How do I know when I’m ready to turn it in and be proud of what I achieved? How do you know that a project is done?

The Horrors of Editing in Wix – Challenge Journal #3

When I created the first draft of my website, I had a blast. Picking page layouts, color schemes, fonts, and pictures are, in my opinion, a ton of fun! I wanted my page to be aesthetically pleasing and inspiring – and I did just that. With minimal fonts and a very rustic color scheme, I felt that I had created the type of website I was dreaming of.

However, as more and more pictures were added, the joy I felt in editing the website quickly started to vanish. The increase in content seemed to create an obnoxiously long ‘lag’ in the editing process. Every picture I want to add or adjust seems to not respond or respond in a painfully slow way. I’ve tried different browsers, WiFi connections, etc.

After talking to my group, I’m finding out that this is a problem for most of my group members. Adele mentioned that she used Weebly for her project and has been having minimal issues in this area. With only 75% of the content uploaded on to my current website, I find myself at a crossroads. Do I make a completely new site? Or, do I continue to edit my current work?

What are your experiences with Wix and Weebly? Have any of you navigated around this fault in the Wix editing feature?

Challenge Journal #2 – Who is my Audience?

As I begin to finally put pen to paper and make progress on my Capstone Project, there is one question that continues to cloud my thoughts: Who is my audience?

The more I write, the more I feel that nobody will want to read what I write. Even when I can muster up an engaging and dynamic explanation about a particular food experience I have, my excitement is diminished by this fear.

Rationally, I know that my ideal audience is anyone that is interested in cooking. Adding modern media references and food trends might help me to refine this audience even further to a younger group of home cooks. However, I fear that this population is small — too small. Do you have any ideas on how to, perhaps, appeal to a larger group? Is this needed?

How do you combat the fear of not being read?

Challenge Journal- How do you Sort Through the Mess?

With the exception of this capstone course, every single English class I have taken at the University of Michigan has started with the same reading assignment: “Shitty First Drafts” by Anne Lamott. The first time I read it was in English 125. While I didn’t understand its purpose from the beginning, I eventually grew to see the necessity of being able to just write.

I didn’t have to have a defined beginning, middle, and end to put pen to paper. In fact, writing could begin with a mere fragment of an idea and — eventually — blossom into something much bigger. Within this context, this piece served its purpose. At the end of my first semester, I was no longer afraid to dive into this seemingly scary and undefined task.

Who’s to say if my current state of fearlessness is developed after analyzing this piece on five different occasions or not. What I do know, however, is that my newfound bravery has inflicted a different, more pertinent limitation on my writing process.

I don’t know what to write.

It’s not that my brain is sleepy or my creativity is lagging but, instead, I have too many ideas.

When I sit down to write, I can’t even decide which words to haphazardly throw into my shitty first draft because there are just too many. Do I write about the role that food and cooking have in my life? Should I delve into my relationship with my mother? Would anyone be interested in reading about my experience playing the carillon? Probably not.

I wish I could find a way to sort all of these tidbits and potential project ideas. I need a way to put it all on the page and know which ones I am interested in the most. What are some qualities of a good project? What do I avoid? How do you sort through the mess?

Resistance

When my eyes begin to droop and my back starts to hurt, I want nothing more than to go home. I check the time: 1:18 AM. I’ve been here for five hours. Doing what? Learning about life. Literally.

It’s at this time that I must resist the urge to go home. I have to power through. Despite the fact that I know my hard work will make for a better future, I can’t stop myself from thinking about dropping out of school, working in retail, and having fun. I dream about a life free of homework and studying, heavy backpacks and light nights. No matter how many times I have these thoughts, there is always a part of me that resists — well, at least for now….

Writing 220: Shrimp Pesto Pasta

I walk into my home for the first time in months. Immediately, I”m attacked by my excited family members, my springing dog, and the loud ding of the door alarm. It’s utter chaos, but amidst it all, there is always one thing that never fails to consume my attention: the sweet smell of my father’s coking.

In honor of my arrival, I can smell that he’s cooking my favorite meal. Garlic and olive oil aromas cut through the air and shoot straight into my nose; I hear the crackling of the fresh shrimp sizzling on the hot sauté pan.

I make my way further into the house — each room introducing me to different aspects of this perfect meal. I begin to smell the starchiness of pasta being cooked in boiling water. As the hum of the food processor begins, my nose is drawn to the fresh basil that was being pulverized with the sharpness of fresh parmesan cheese. These smells never fail to make me feel at home, for the promise a night’s worth of good food, family, and fun.

Writing 220 : How I Write

How I Write Discover
Every time I sit down to write something of importance – something more than a work email, or a solution to a physics problem – I default to a process that I discovered to be effective about two years ago. Currently, I write to get a grade on a paper. While this may seem pathetic, I try to make the most out of it; it’s the only time I have to write. To discover. Upon receiving the prompt, my mind circles endlessly with ideas and inspiration. For nearly two days, I will actively live my life analyzing what it throws at me, and how it could or could not relate to the piece I have to write. I wait and wait and wait for inspiration to hit me like a truck. It is then, that I know.
With the idea fresh in my head, I run to the Espresso Royale on South University. I put on my glasses, let my body fall into the plush booth below me, and wrap my hands around the warm glass of my Spanish Latte. I take a deep breath in, savoring how perfect this moment is – the last calm breath before the roaring wave of words and ideas crashes on to my laptop.

 

I plug my white ear buds into my ears, turn on classical French music and let any thought that I have flow through my body, to my fingers, and onto my keyboard. The person next to me must think that I am just pressing random letters on my laptop, as my fingers are moving faster than ever. I keep writing until I feel that I have found an answer to my question; this will normally take at least four or five pages of writing. However, once I have found this, my most tedious task is complete. I wrap up the piece with a haphazard conclusion and shut my laptop, knowing that tomorrow I will snip, rearrange, and beef up the essay. Better yet, I walk away feeling satisfied. I got a very good start to a pressing assignment and – better yet – I have written about something that interests me. Through this process, I obtain a greater meaning. Whether I’m leaving Espresso Royale with an answer, or just a better understanding of a concept, I am content in what I accomplished.