Creative and Academic Pop Culture

Hi fellow writers! I am AnnMarie Kuzel, a Junior from Chicago with a life long passion for writing. Like most writers, I have immersed myself in a variety of writing communities during my life in an attempt to find my place within the massive writing world. These communities have included (at one point or another) creative writing classes, argumentation classes, pop-culture blogs, a trade publication, and writing camps. While I am no longer an active member in most of these writing communities, I gained great knowledge from each of them about how to vary and utilize different voices, styles, formats, and audiences. Today, I am a member of two very different writing communities; the first is a student-run record label which has appointed me as their web editor who writes and edits articles, and the other is a Communications Studies major which requires me to write numerous research articles regarding a variety of topics.

As the web editor for Empty Mug Records, I am responsible for writing articles about recent pop-culture news and contributions, usually regarding music. I have written articles about Kid Cudi checking into rehab, Kanye West releasing new songs, and The Weeknd’s new album. While I am provided a lot of creative liberty when choosing the topic I want to write about, I still utilize many of the skills that I have learned from previous writing classes and experiences. My formatting and voice change with each article, but I am constantly aware of who my audience is and how I have to manipulate my thoughts to appeal to their interests. Though these pieces do require research and incorporate factual support, they are largely opinion based. At times, I can get carried away in the analysis of new albums or songs, because I am so used to doing in-depth analyses for my academic and professional writing, and this is when I have to remember who my audience is and how to appeal to them in the best way possible.

I am also a part of the Communications Studies writing community, which is much more research based, reliant on textual support and analysis, and rarely (if ever) makes room for opinion. The essays that are writing for many of the Communications classes at the University of Michigan are research oriented. I am provided creative liberty when it comes to picking a topic (sometimes) and then have to abide by the rubrics that go along with each essay and research paper assignment. These rubrics require the essay/paper to have a certain format, including an introduction, textual analysis, audience analysis, methods, findings, and conclusion section. Within each of these sections are more specific guidelines which usually require a certain amount of sources to be utilized, among other things. Here, there is no room for opinion or creative liberty. Though the topics are often related to pop-culture, the type of writing I have to do is very different than the type of writing I do for Empty Mug Records, and it is for a very different audience (academia). It can be difficult at times to write about such similar topics and have to deliver the information vastly different ways. However, it is refreshing to be able to have an outlet that lets me utilize my academic writing and another outlet that allows me express myself more creatively.

During this Capstone course, I look forward to being able to utilize both my academic writing skills and creative writing skills in a way that works in harmony and creates a unique piece of work.

Back 2 Bloggin’

Hey, Capstone People! My name is Caroline Rafferty, and I couldn’t be more excited about writing posts on the Sweetland Blog again. After looking back at my last post from the Gateway (in December of 2015…yikes) I felt inspired to dust off the cobwebs and get to writing! However, after sitting at my laptop for 20 minutes without writing a single word, I realized that getting back into the swing of things was easier said than done.

When I first heard about Mini Assignment 1, I had no idea what Julie meant by the term “writing communities” and feared that perhaps I had never been part of one. It wasn’t until I started reading Hunter & Ketter’s case study that I discovered that I have been part of different writing communities pretty much since I learned how to form coherent thoughts and put pen to paper.

Most obviously, I do a lot of academic writing and shared Erin Peterson’s sentiment of academic writing as “constraining and formulaic,” excluding the Minor in Writing’s classes, of course. I’ve always fought against the idea that essays must have an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. I felt that this strict structure left little room for creative license and showcasing a writer’s voice–two aspects I believe distinguish great writers from good writers. While I recognize that much of the purpose around academic writing, such as research papers and theses, are to communicate an idea and argue its importance to a field of study, it makes me wonder: why must there be such a distinct (perceived?) difference between academic writing and creative writing?

This question brings me to another writing community I belong to that I feel lets my creative juices flow a bit more freely–and even pays me! For close to two years, I’ve managed the blog of a startup company in Chicago. In addition to writing blog posts, I have the privilege of reading my coworker’s posts and offering some suggestions for how to take their writing to the next level. I remember one of my high school English teacher’s telling me how important the peer editing process is for making oneself a better writer, and this has definitely held true in my professional writing community. Though I still rely on my boss’s input for the pieces I write, he gives me a lot of creative license to write what I want in any form or style I choose. This freedom has made me view my professional writing community in a much more positive light than my academic writing community, which I will say is a bit upsetting. I wish that more academic institutions recognized the importance of creativity in a writer’s process. I’m sure if I had the ability to write what I want in any way I want that my view of academia would transform from one of disappointment to one of inspiration.

While I initially struggled to recognize the writing communities I am part of, I found that reading about Erin Peterson’s communities and the boundaries existing between the two of them helped me distinguish my writing communities. However, I still have lingering questions about why the case study only discusses being part of two communities. Personally, I think that every individual is involved in at least two, but I’m sure many people are involved with many more than that. I would be interested to see if any of you had the same question, and I look forward to reading about everyone else’s writing communities.