Welcome {Back} to Our New Home!

Welcome back to The Draft, the IPFW Writing Center Blog! I’m so glad you decided to stop by and get an update!

I think pretty much everyone can agree that 2016 was a rough year, and we’re all hoping 2017 is much, much better. We’ve had a lot of changes here in the IPFW Writing Center, too, and I’d like to share some of them with you.

One of the biggest changes is our location! The Writing Center has moved quite a lot in its 24 years of existence, and we’ve hopefully made our last move for a long while. This semester, we moved back into the Helmke Library Learning Commons! The beautifully renovated space is wonderful to work in, and we’re taking full advantage of the comfy seating and plentiful access to power outlets! Plus, if you need to borrow a laptop for your appointment, we’re right by the Learning Commons desk where you can check one out for the day—use it for the appointment and then to keep working on your revision! We have also expanded our hours. You can now have appointments as early as 8:00 AM and as late as 10:00 PM.

As usual—and this is the terrible, wonderful part of being staffed by students—some of our consultants graduated and some moved on to awesome opportunities. But we’ve also welcomed a new consultants to the family, and we’re excited to have them complete their training and begin working with you! Definitely check out the Meet the Team page under About Us to see who’s back and who’s new.

One thing that hasn’t changed is how much we’re looking forward to working with all of you, talking with you, collaborating with you, and helping you learn more about writing and the writing process. Don’t forget to keep checking back here for more tops, tricks, articles, and info, and get connected to us through social media! We’re excited to get to know each of you, and to see you in the center!

FYI: My name is Kristine, and I’m the Coordinator for Composition, Communication, and Supplemental Instruction here at IPFW. I’ve worked in the publishing and marketing industries for more than a decade, and have taught various courses in Visual Communications and Design and English Composition at the college level for about seven years. I have a BS in Journalism from Ball State, and a MA in English from right here at IPFW. Despite that, I consider myself to be a creative writer who, if I let myself, would be perfectly content to hole up in my apartment for days on end, writing.

Kristine

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Goodbye from our Graduates- Rachel Abraham

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My time at the writing center couldn’t have been long enough. Since my first day, even as nervous as I was, I have loved this job. Immediately it felt too good to be true, like I’d be found out as a fraud.  This early in life I hate to say that being a consultant, lead, and social media “person,” and blog content manager is the best hypha-job that I’ll ever have. What I can say more hopefully is that this has been the best job I’ve had yet. There were so many valuable experiences–like attending and presenting at two ECWCA conferences!

Firstly, Kris has been the best boss on the planet. You can trust me on that because I won’t be her employee much longer. 😦 From the day I said “I’d like to try to handle the social media,” little more than a few months into my first semester, she has believed in me and allowed to me learn and fail. I’m tearing up, so let me move on.

Secondly, I’ll remember the students that I’ve worked with for the rest of my life. I may not remember all of their names, but I will certainly remember my favorites (we’re not parents, we’re allowed favorites). Returning adult nursing students, foreign exchange students, and students who simply hadn’t found their place on campus yet will be among my fondest memories and connections made at IPFW.

Lastly, but certainly not least-ly, my fellow writing center folks. Nobody nerds out about English with me as well as you guys do. I’ll miss our laughs between consultations, jokes at the movies, and celebrating birthdays, job offers, and—thank goodness—graduations. Audrey & Matt, who taught me what I know, thank you! Heather, for all the germophobic and sugar/work-addict sympathy, thank you. Josh and Jaclyn, for knowing and accepting my sarcasm, thank you. Amy, Darren, Eylina, Fiona, Erika, Ashlee, and our G.A.’s thank you for making work an enjoyable place to come every day. Kris, for all the Chewy bars, understanding, encouragement, safe space, driving me to pick out a new car, birthday dinners, laughs, thank you a million times over!

I’ll miss you, Writing Center family.

Love,

Rachel Abraham

 

This is WAC (writing across the curriculum): A poet’s perspective

Dr. Curtis Crisler, Associate Professor of English at IPFW, answered our questions and provided writing insights from his own expert experience.

“Do you have a particular way you research and write?” -Heather D.

I would say that my way of researching varies depending on the genre for which I am writing. For example, with a recent project, Playbook for an Urban Midwestern Sensibility: Crafting Work Cross-Genres, which defines my “urban Midwestern sensibility” (uMs) through a historical lens. It illustrates how museums, especially African American museums, have been beneficial to Black creativity. I meld this research along with different genres of writing: poetry, fiction, drama, and essay, to solidify a practical focus and context of how uMs functions.

For the Playbook project, done on sabbatical, I interviewed people (face-to-face and through email), I traveled to different locales (to museums in NY, DC, Chicago, and Detroit), worked with different museum librarians and staff, partook in MoMA’s showing of “One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series (which helped me create the “Prelude” to Playbook, along with secondary sources. Again, all of this to create a “playbook” illustrating how uMs works in practice.   

Whereas research for a poetry book, and for each individual poem, can be inspired by an image, a dialogue, a shape, a color, from personal history, current events, secondary sources, and so on. It would depend upon the individual poem, and what that poem is asking of me. Now, put 40-60 individual poems together, that speak/complement each other to create a full manuscript.

So, although there is overlap in my research process, there is also a difference to how I can complete a given project.  

“Was learning how to write well important to your field?”

Yes, learning how to write in my field was/is very important. I would say it’s an ongoing process as well. Although I have my voice, I still know that understanding the mechanics of structure and style are very important skills to add to my skills box. Having skills at the ready, is never a bad thing. Just like having tools in one’s toolbox, one should have skills in their skills box.

More importantly, as a writer, I have to learn how to manipulate/adapt to writing in many venues: academic, professional, personal, etc. I want my students to know that they need a myriad of tools/skills when it comes to writing. In most of my writing courses (poetry/ fiction/ creative nonfiction/ technical/ composition/ supplementary, etc.) students can write questions for contemporary writers, essays, peer reviews, self-evaluations, do blogging, free writing, drafting, proposals, instructions, and journaling for example. Even more, students (as well as myself) need to know how to manipulate/adapt our skills to apply for grants, scholarships, fellowships, housing, jobs, and the like. Writing skills are vastly important, and must always be kept sharp, as best as one can.  

“Do you have any advice for students?”

My advice to writers is to read and write. You can’t get beyond the basic tenets of the craft. Someone once told my graduate class that “You have to love writing because writing will not love you back.” That hit me so hard in my mind-space, head-on, like it a Mack truck. As harsh as that sounds, it is so true. There is no one there with you at 3am, when an image needs tending to, or you are writing, like I am now, about something that has been on your mind and you desperately must put it on the page. I always tell my students, no one is going to write a book, come to you and say, “You can put your name on it now.” There is no substituting “putting your butt in the seat.” – Dr. Crisler

 

This is WAC (writing across the curriculum): A historian’s advice

History majors take note!

Here’s a letter (and some tips) on writing from Dr. Suzanne LaVere, Associate Professor of History at IPFW:

Writing is an incredibly important part of my work as a historian.  I write something every day, and part of what I try to do with my research is take obscure texts (which are usually in Latin) and attempt to make them meaningful for a modern audience.  I think it’s especially important to be able to communicate unfamiliar ideas in writing in a way that helps people to understand why these ideas matter, and writing is one of the major ways I try to do this.  I think that learning to write well is very important to my field; I benefited from great teachers in middle school, high school, college, and graduate school who helped me become a better writer, both in terms of expressing ideas and the more technical things like word choice, smooth transitions between paragraphs, and all that good stuff.   One of our department’s goals for history majors is to have everyone work on their writing through learning how to write different kinds of papers.  Ultimately, we’re hoping that extensive written work will help students in their future careers—we think it pays off, since we have so many students who go on to careers where they need to effectively communicate in writing every day.

At this point in my career, I’m usually working on bigger projects (a book, a scholarly article), and so I try to find ways to break these big projects into smaller parts.  For example, when I was working on my book, I dealt with a large number of medieval manuscripts.  I tried to focus on one particular manuscript, transcribing it and translating the content I needed, and then thinking about how it fit into my overall project.  I found it was easier to focus on one thing at a time, rather than getting overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material out there that I needed to incorporate.  I think this method could apply to a student doing a research paper—work on researching/gaining information from one source at a time, rather than jumping from source to source.  I do think it always helps, if using this strategy, to have a backup source/portion of your project to tackle in case you get burned out or bored with what you’re working on.

What does she recommend?

1)       Revise and revise again!  It rarely happens that what you write the first time is what you really want to say.  I revise just about everything, working through multiple different versions.  I really try to emphasize the idea of writing as a process to my students (and to myself, especially when I run into writer’s block or other problems).

2)      Outlines are a great way to organize thoughts, especially toward the beginning of a project.  Later, as you do more research, you can fill in the outline, move sections around, and so on.

3)      Keep a notebook and/or a folder (with a bigger project, you might have multiples) to jot down ideas about your project, to try out certain ways of writing out your ideas, and to collect useful articles, etc. that you come across in your research.

4)      Read your work out loud.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be to any audience other than yourself, but reading aloud helps you catch things you won’t catch if just reading your paper silently.  I find this to be especially helpful when I don’t like the wording of a sentence I wrote or the flow of a paragraph—reading it out loud helps me find what I want to change.

5)      Get feedback—have other people read your writing, ideally people from different audiences (those who might know something about your paper topic vs. someone not familiar with the material).

Best,

Dr. LaVere

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