Now that Upper Iowa has a creative writing program, I feel that it is necessary to discuss one of the biggest obstacles in creative writing: coming up with a story or idea. As a newly found creative writer, I sometimes struggle with finding appropriate subject matter to write about. I have sat for hours at a time just trying to come up with something vaguely interesting to put to paper. I am positive that I do not struggle in this alone. So here is a short list of hints that I have come up, and frequently tested myself to get the creativity flowing.
1: Just write. I know it sounds silly but even if you just start by writing what’s going on around you it can somehow turn into something more. I have sat and described the people walking through the student center doors on one occasion before I got inspiration to actually write a poem.
2: Write from a picture. This is one of my favorite ways to get creative juices flowing. I am an avid pintrest-er so I would log in and then choose a picture and write a story about the person or people in it. I also have a great time trying to do it from different character points of view in the picture, which leads to number three.
3: Write a common story or movie plot from the point of view of another character. This can lead to some pretty interesting results. This was also an activity in one of the classes I took which is why I include it. The goal is to take the known and make it interesting and new.
Hopefully these will help. If not, always feel free to come visit us in the Writing Center to bounce ideas off of the consultants. We would be glad to assist in your creative efforts! Best of luck getting started.
Why does the Writing Center offer odd hours? (8:45, 9:15, 9:45, 10:15, ...)
Check your class schedule! As classes are one hour and fifteen minutes with a ten-minute break in between, 30-minute appointments are often impossible to complete when held on the hour or half hour, leaving you scrambling to get to your next class! For this reason, we have scheduled appointments to dovetail with class times. Therefore, if you would like an appointment before your 9:25 a.m. class, you could sign up for the 8:45-9:15 a.m. slot. Alternatively, you could schedule one just after your class finishes at 10:40, for a 10:45 a.m. slot! It is the same with other appointment times that start and end conveniently just before your 10:50 class which ends at 12:05, or your 12:50 class which ends at 2:05....
We can go on, but check it out for yourself at uiu.mywconline.com and discover the many benefits of a Writing Center appointment!
The Writing Consultants
Have you ever read something that seems to be redundant? Have you ever read anything that seems to be redundant?
Well, redundancy is great for IT, not so much for writing. Having a second modem or router around or even configured can be quite the boon, but having the same sentence, even restated, in a paper can cause the reader a headache or even bore them to death. I used to be redundant in my writing, but I eventually started to cull some of it out.
Now, I'm sure you have all seen redundancy in places it probably shouldn't be. For example, have any of you read government documents? Those things are either nice and clean or riddled with redundancy. History journals are too redundant. Science papers like to restate things again and again. Editors miss it, but it is simply not a good style.
Anyway, my random rant of the year is all done.
Pronoun confusion is a fun little discrepancy that we all run into at one point or the other. I notice that as one gets to writing, one gets caught up in what one is trying to say. The writer believes that the writing is clear and concise but it actually becomes confusing, particularly in the event of substituting pronouns to save from too much repetition of names. “I’ve said her name like ten times… better replace all instances of Sarah with ‘she’.” It is sound logic. One doesn’t want to make it seem like one is over-using a word. The issue is that sometimes other nouns enter in the mix and the reader has no idea who “she” is. Here is a small snippet of conversation that exemplifies what not to do:
Sarah walked up behind Samantha and tapped her on her shoulder.
She was surprised but smiled back at her. She was always doing things like that.
“What are you up to today?” she asked.
“Nothing much, I’m just on my way to class.”
Who is going to class? It is unclear. One would think that the “she” is Karen, since Karen was the last character named. On further review, the other character could have been the last to speak… it is a mess. Help make your piece more easily understood by being sure to only use pronouns after just referencing the noun they are substituting, particularly if the pronoun could stand in for any number of other nouns.
Sarah walked up behind Samantha and tapped her on her shoulder.
Samantha was surprised but smiled back at Sarah. Sarah was always doing things like that.
“What are you up to today?” Sarah asked.
“Nothing much, I’m just on my way to class.”
Oh, Samantha is going to class. That’s much better.
College is crazy! If you happen to be a busy college student, a journal may help you relieve stress, just as it did for me. I started my first year of college with my mind set on not getting too involved. I wanted to get the best grades I possibly could, and if it meant staying uninvolved then that was the way it had to be. The workload from my classes was enough to keep me busy for many hours at a time; however, homework does not pay the bills.
I started my job at the Writing Center in order to help pay for my bills and the everyday costs of living. The hours I worked were not too terribly long, but after one considers that there is homework to do as well it seems as though they are. I finally adjusted to my new schedule when a coaching position opened for a park and rec program. My fiancé and I, along with another student, coached the basketball team. We attended numerous practices and games during the week, as well as on weekends. The schedule I had was overwhelming to say the very least.
I stayed with this schedule until the end of the year, and just as things seemed to slow down I had more on my plate; my fiancé and I were asked to coach the girls’ softball team. We had fun while coaching basketball, so we decided we could give softball a try as well. While coaching, we both got jobs at Upper Iowa for the summer. On top of coaching, and our jobs, we were planning our wedding for the coming October.
I am now in the beginning of my sophomore year, and the wedding is fast approaching; however my parents 25th Anniversary, and by Brothers wedding will come before it. The next few months will be very busy for me to say the very least. With all of the added stress on me, I realized that I needed to find a way to deal with pressure; this is when I turned to writing. I was never the type of person to keep a diary because I found it to be a waste of time. I now realize that it is very helpful when you are in a situation as stressful as mine. Writing in a journal gives you a chance to recollect on the events that occurred during the day, and maybe once they are on paper, they will not seem as stressful.
What are you doing Sunday, April 29th?
Make your appointments now for Sunday Night Rush(with milk and cookies) at the Writing Center(Liberal Arts, Room 127)! We have openings from 6:30-11:00 p.m. Claim your half hour slot! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred time and we'll send you and e-mail confirmation, or come to the Writing Center to make you appointment!
It's the most wonderful tiiiime of the year...summer! Vacations, graduation, no school...the moments we've all been wating for since Fall Term 1. I bet you have already made your plans; whether it's traveling the world, getting to know your couch a lot better or goin to the Jersey Shore, you have already put the remainder of this school year somewhere in the back of your mind. However, we all know that the summer is a prime time to forget 90% of what we spent 9 months trying to hold on to. If you're like me and you see a beautiful sunny day outside your window, chances are you are outside enjoying it. That book you still have in your backpack from school can wait until later. You were only gonna glance over it anyway. Later comes and you've decided to play video games with your family, leaving that poor book in the bag yet again. Tommorrow you said you would finally get to it...but it's another beautiful day. You can't pass THAT up. The point of it all: the summer is our friend and yet our enemy simultaneously. We enjoy the break from studies but then get brain mush for the next school year. I urge our readers to devote some time over the summer to refreshing your mind. Yes, I know, there are more important things to do with your free time. But I guarantee you'll thank yourself in the long run. If you don't believe me...ask a math major. I'm sure they LOVE forgetting and re-learning forumlas, rules, and properties. It's just oh so much fun
MIDWESTERN LITERARY PROJECT, showcasing contemporary Midwestern writing, editing, and publishing
The Upper Iowa University Writing Center will host the Midwestern Literary Project, showcasing contemporary Midwestern writing, editing, and publishing, on Thursday, March 22. An author/editor panel discussion will begin at 2:15 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building, Room 110, on the Fayette campus. The reading/presentation will begin at 4:00 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Auditorium.
Both sessions are open to the public and questions are encouraged.
By Kait Graybill
Participants in the author/editor panel discussion include:
•Timothy Fay, editor, publisher, and printer of the Iowa-based literary journal, The Wapsipinicon Almanac, with Dr. Doug McReynolds, UIU Bissell professor of English, who authored a suite of personal essays on the seasons that was published in the Wapsipinicon Almanac (Vol. 17);
•Jim O’Loughlin, editor and publisher of Final Thursday Press (FTP);
•Kimberly Groninga, author of a volume of poetry, Other Things that Grow, published by FTP. The panel discussion is for anyone interested in the author/editor relationship and the process of creative work publication.
The second session will include readings by McReynolds, Groninga, Fay, and O’Loughlin.
•Fay and O’Loughlin will also discuss the triumphs and trials of running a small press in the large world of publishing and their varying publishing styles. The Wapsipinicon Almanac is produced by labor-intensive linotype setting, and honors the craftsmanship of letter press equipment mostly considered obsolete in today’s publishing realm, while FTP relies on thoroughly modern printing methods with the capability of bringing to press a variety of local Iowa authors.
Both sessions are open to the public and questions are encouraged. Come join us and learn more about writing, press and these writers!!!!
As most of you might know, cursive handwriting is no longer taught in American school, and for several reasons. Technology is constantly evolving and changing. Electronic transfers and online banking are making checks more and more obsolete. I have realized that I had wasted a part of my chidhood education. Granted, I am proud to read and write American cursive handwriting, but I know it has become a useless skill. It is one talent that my children wouldn't need to know when they go to school.
As a writing tutor, I have helped many students, American and international students, with their essays. Furthermore, many international students don't understand cursive handwriting. For these students, learning English is hard enough to learn without learning a soon-to-be ancient form of American writng. Some international students have asked me to translate the cursive handwritten comments on their essays from their teachers!
In conclusion, as this change occurs, we must all adapt to it. For those who do know how to write cursive handwriting, be proud of your talent. For those who don't know cursive handwriting, please don't be ashamed. Cursive handwriting is not a necessary skill to have. Those who do know cursive handwriting should not exploit those who don't, or merely accept others to understand, whether they are domestic or international students.
I have been writing ever since I could write. When I was young, I enjoyed learning English and cursive hand-writing. My only regret is that part of my childhood education was wasted. Nowadays, American elementary schools no longer teach cursive hand-writing. Checks are becoming obsulete. Electronic banking, plastic cards, and direct deposits are taking over the way we earn and spend money. Quite frankly, if I knew if it would become a waste of time, I would of studied a new language or how to play an instrument instead.
Despite this loss, I have developed a hobby for writing. Throughout high school, I began to write more and more. Not only was I writing essays, I was writing down my own thoughts, ideas, and emotions. It was a way of reducing stress and to open my mind.
When I went to college, my love for writing only increased. I wrote many history essays, I wrote for the college newspaper, and I wrote every day, just for the hell of it! Writing became a hobby for me.
So why do I write? I have many reasons. It makes me happy, it relieves stress, controls emotions, a way to communicate, it's a way to make history, and it's a way to develop new ideas. I will not stop writing, and encourages others to never quite writing. No matter what language you speak, what you write on, or what it's about. No matter how time changes things, never stop writing.