How Important Is Structure, Really?


Writers are provided with countless resources and references to help us with our endeavors. This article reveals the daily routines of famous writers, which are meant to show us how we could be shaping our own days. Apps exist to help increase our productivity, such as some that will block the Internet when writing so you won’t be distracted by your Twitter feed, or by your cousin’s latest Facebook update of her kids. While some writers attest to the benefits of applications and following regimens in order to boost productivity and efficiency, others aren’t so sure of the apps’ creatives benefits.

This article from the New York Times dives into the world of writing apps and strict schedules, and discusses whether or not they hinder the creative process. One writer, Casey N. Cep, doesn’t think following a consistent routine does much. She says:

“It is not only the routine of any of these artists that made them successful. Not many of them even follow the routines they offer. Their creative lives are all more complicated, more disordered than the bullet points or time stamps they detail in one-off interviews. And even if they devotedly followed their own procedures, then it would be still odd to reduce the mysterious beauty of their work to these obvious patterns of waking and sleeping and typing.”

Additionally, novelist Marie Myung-Ok Lee advocates for the Internet’s Fuel for Creatives says that, “the constant stream of information keeps ideas new and fresh.”

Personally, I have an Internet blocking app on my computer. I try and adhere to some sort of schedule, although I typically fail to do so. I find that a certain amount of routine is critical, but flexibility is the most important part of the creative process and have to agree with the aforementioned writers. What do you think?


Cover Letter Writing Tips

Photo credit: Business 2 Community

To all you PWers applying for jobs, you know how difficult cover letters can be. For all of you who have yet to embark on the cover letter writing journey, take note.

Here are some handy cover letter writing tips straight from the magnificent Danielle Devoss.

First, NEVER, ever ever ever EVER address the letter “Dear Sir or Madam.” People, it’s not 1972. Not only is this crazy old-fashioned, gender-focused salutations are typically not appropriate.

Second, NEVER ever ever address the letter “To Whom it May Concern.” This is another dated and dead convention. What does “it” refer to??? Who says “To Whom?”

Instead, if you can figure out who you are writing to, address them directly: “Dear Jane Doe:” or “John Smith:”

If you can’t find that information or its not available, it’s perfectly appropriate to include a salutation appropriate to the job and where you’re applying, like: “Dear Human Resources Coordinator:” or “Dear Internship Director:” or “Dear Communications Manager:”

Besides these nifty tips, here is a handy 6-minute video overview that covers smart moves to make in writing cover letters, including some great, helpful examples.

Now get out there and start that cover letter! Remember though. If you want help working on your cover letter or just want to run it by someone else to before you send it out into the real world, to schedule an appointment with the Writing Center at

Social Media Helping Track Plagiarism


Social media has its benefits; you can easily share information with your networks, keep in contact with long distance friends, and always see the latest meme. But did you know that social media can help find plagiarism, too?

In an article from The Economic Times discusses how social media can help make a writer aware this his or her work is being copied without their permission. As author Sudeep Chakravarti said, “Digital media has made it easier to track plagiarism. There are instances where a writer may be unaware that his work is being plagiarized, but there are very alert people on social media who will tell you that your work is being copied.”


Get To Know: Writers’ Block

writers bloc

Are you a Professional Writing major? You are? Well, then congrats! You are also a member of MSU’s Writers’ Bloc. Writers’ Bloc is an official student organization in the WRAC Department of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University.

As said by our fearless leader, Laura Julier:

Last year, PWers started organizing themselves in project teams.

The following teams have either already started working or are still in formation. Some only need a couple more people before they can begin working.

Field Trip Planning team:
16 people went to Grand Rapids last fall, met 3 amazing alums in 3 different workplaces. In spring semester, a group went to visit Detroit PW alums. They also talked about a visit to one of the strong local PW partners in the Lansing area. This fall, they’ve already started planning another trip to Detroit. Contact Shannon Roe-Butler ( if you want to get involved in making this happen.

PW Design team:
The team last year was amazing. They started meeting already but could still use some help. This team will work on designing documents—flyers and posters—for the program, and in January begin working on the end-of-the year slide show that celebrates all PW accomplishments and is featured at the reception on May 1st. Great edition to any portfolio! Contact Laura Julier ( if interested.

PW Plunder team:
There are still Clyde t-shirts for sale! But now it’s time for the next step: what other PW-themed stuff do you want to see created and purchase? Maybe someone wants to open a Zazzle store?! Contact Laura Julier ( or Lizzie Oderkirk ( with your ideas.

Bar Crawl / T-shirt Design team:
You know you want to have a say in designing this year’s t-shirts and planning this annual event, taking place this year on May 1st after the Gala PW reception. Emily Dallaire (, Haley Erb (, and Charlie Thompson signed up.

Writers’ Bloc Social Media team:
Right now, they are running the Writers’ Bloc Facebook and Twitter pages. However, they are open to suggestions. If you have any questions or are interested in joining, contact Lindsey Spitzley ( or Morgan Omara (

If there are other things you’d like to make or see happen in PW, email Laura Julier ( Some ideas that have happened in the past include a movie night in the Writing Center with pizza or maybe someone running a Photoshop and InDesign tutorial.

You can follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter.