Trending: World Cup

Once many Professional Writing students realize that managing social media outlets can be a tangible form of making a living, thinking about becoming an adult doesn’t seem so scary. We spend a lot of time (probably more than we’re willing to admit) perusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites, absorbing and posting information. Judging by what’s trending, social media users have the ability to find, learn, and promulgate popular events; and according to Forbes Magazine, the greatest influx of social media attention is on the horizon.

We’re talking Futbol, people. Soccer. That ninety minute game played with a ball with a zebra color scheme. As soccer transcends sport to become a worldwide cultural phenomenon, one can expect the social media platforms to be inundated with updates, hashtags, and stories.

So, look alive, social media socialites! Pay attention to the trends; this is an interesting event that only happens once every four years, and social media is at its peak of popularity. Sure, your Pintrest might be blown up with images of soccer players and their fanatic followers, but it’s a nice change of pace from wedding pictures and overused memes.

What Have PWer’s Been Up To?

WRAC would like to take a moment and acknowledge all the hard work that is taking place amongst the Professional Writing students in the department.

PW sophomore, Claire Babala was one of nine students featured in the MSU President’s Report. Check out the video below to meet Claire.

PW senior, Richa Choubey, has accomplished a great deal in her four years at MSU. She is featured on msu.edu right now and shares an inspiring path that lead her to focus on film and television.

PW senior, Riley Sutika, works for the AOP office. This past year, she coordinated the Project 60/50 essay contest and did some AMAZING work.

And another PW student, Jade Wiselogle, landed an internship in NYC with Seventeen Magazine for the summer. Congratulations!

Congratulations to all our PWer’s who landed an internship this year. If there are any PWer’s that would love to write a guest blog post to take a moment and share their summer internship experience, email wrac@msu.edu.

When You’ve Run Out of Ideas

We all know that feeling of writer’s block. It sets in right around the 14th page of a required 15-page paper. Just when you’ve gotten to a great point in your short story or when that cursor is blinking on a completely blank screen. Writer’s block always sets in at the most inopportune time and can sometimes linger to the point where you’re not even sure you’ll have any more ideas. I have written for many different outlets ranging from business social media to creative writing, and sometimes I just feel like I won’t ever think of that next great tweet or short story.

What’s a writer to do? I’ve hit this wall plenty of times and sometimes it has led me to give up on a project completely. I don’t want that to happen to you, so over the years I’ve developed some ways to keep myself from getting completely off track, and I thought I would share them.

writers-block

Source: The Collaborative Writer

Brainstorm. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind, you never know when a great idea will hit. Sometimes I will have the craziest dream that I know could be turned into a great short story, or I’m driving the hour-long ride home and I’ll think of an idea for something to blog about. I always have to have a pen and paper nearby so that I can write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Especially with dreams, they’re always vibrantly painted on the back of my eyelids when I wake up, but as the day goes on the details become fuzzier and fuzzier. So, I find it’s best to write everything down in as much detail as I can right when I wake up. (more…)

PW Senior Alyssa Onder accepted to Denver Publishing Institute

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We are pleased to announce that Alyssa Onder, Professional Writing senior, has been accepted to the Denver Publishing Institute. While Jon Ritz brought the program to her attention as a sophomore, she only remembered the program recently while looking into her plans for after graduation. As a certification program, Onders decided the Denver Publishing Institute seemed to be a better fit for her than grad school. Associate Professor Stuart Blythe only has good things to say about the program, “The Publishing Institute is a terrific first step for students interested in book publishing. Many students actually walk away from the Institute with a job offer.” In regards to Onder’s acceptance, he explains, “Alyssa was in a section of my WRA 202 that I taught a couple years ago. Based on the good work she did then, I’m not surprised that she was accepted.”

While this four-week long program focuses mainly on book publishing, they make every day count. Lectures and workshops cover everything from book design and packaging to proofreading and copyediting to media marketing and a bit of multimedia publishing. In response to her acceptance, Onder explains what she’s looking forward to most, “I’m hoping to learn more about where the publishing industry is headed. Because DPI focuses largely on book publishing as opposed to magazine or e-publishing, I’m interested to learn about how the industry is keeping print alive and how I might be part of that.”

In addition to in-depth workshops on editing and marketing in the publishing business, the Institute also offers one-on-one sessions with DPI graduates and prominent figures in publishing. “I’m excited for the networking! There are so many experienced publishers, agents, and editors from the ‘The Big Six’ visiting DPI to work with students. I’m eager to meet them and learn about their experience with the industry.” Of course, ‘The Big Six’ Onder is referring to are the most distinguished publishing companies across the world: Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Macmillan, The Penguin Group, and Hachette. From these prestigious companies, there will be two representatives from HarperCollins and one representative from Penguin, Macmillan, and Random House at the Institute, respectively.

Upon graduating the program, she will receive a Publishing Certificate. Since Onder is in the Editing and Publishing track of Professional Writing, this program gives her a perfect opportunity to not only explore the publishing industry and what it has to offer, but to network inside the business and launch her career in publishing.

Manage Expectations From The Start and Think Ahead

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Source: http://www.flickr.com

Great Expectations

By the time you leave the Professional Writing program, you will have crafted more pieces of writing than you will ever know what to do with. It’s good practice. The breadth of experience and expertise you will take from the faculty and curriculum will give you a skill-set in high demand.

But when it comes to working as a freelance writer, there’s just not a lot that coursework can do to prepare you for the day-to-day business situations you’ll find yourself in. Here are some tips to avoid a big mistake I made getting started.

Watch Out For Rocks

When you first start working as a freelancer, it’s easy to jump right in to what you’ve learned, know, and love—creating high-quality content. Be careful though, there are some rocks beneath the surface. The reality of the freelance world—and this is certainly not unique to writers and content developers—is that many clients are not entirely certain about what they want, need, and more importantly what happens on the freelance side to make it happen. This can lead to confusion and friction down the road unless the scope of your work is laid out in advance. It’s in everyone’s best interest for both sides to know what is expected of them. Take the time to sit down and work through what needs to be done.

I consulted with a small, local client on marketing strategy and implementation. At the first board meeting, we spoke generally about direction and metrics/targets for the quarter.

During the next month’s meeting, I shared news about unexpected growth in a different area. One of the members later told me how confused some of the board was to not hear about what we had discussed during the first meeting. We had set no month-to-month targets or even discussed the need for monthly reports. Why would they think that? Because without explicitly outlining how we would handle updates and meetings, each member of the board developed their own expectation. That was my fault.

Come next month, I was prepared with every metric I had. It was much better received. Lesson learned—always manage expectations from the start and think ahead.

Remember Your Training

You are being brought on as a professional. Your input in negotiations is not only valuable, but necessary. The difficulty will come in building and maintaining those relationships. You don’t want to miss a deadline because you could not get information or feedback in a timely fashion. Give yourself breathing room and make sure the client knows what is expected of and from them.

Even if you don’t intend on making a freelance business your primary career, you will find that your skills and working knowledge are too valuable to not exercise on the side—especially in today’s economy. Keep an eye out for workshops and information from the Professional Writing program on how to get started.

 
“Adrian de Novato has been writing professionally since 2011. He currently writes for the Amway Corporation and has consulted with various business and public advocacy groups. He is a graduate of the professional writing program and lives in East Grand Rapids.”

4 Free, Online Photo Editors

GIMP

Source: snapfiles.com

Source: snapfiles.com

GIMP is an open-source, image-editing tool that allows users to customize additional features and abilities into their software. It’s a free, downloadable application (from their website) that focuses on photo enhancement and digital retouching. This program works on various operating systems and supports numerous file formats.

PicMonkey 

PicMonkey.com

PicMonkey.com

PicMonkey is a photo-editing tool that focuses on photo enhancement, adding text, providing touch ups on people, and offering layout design options to make sharing across media platforms smoother (think: PicStitch app, but online).  Photo adjustments include a variety of frames, textures, and cute overlays ranging from comic bubbles to scrapbook effects, more filters than Instagram, and numerous other quirky photo garnishes. (more…)

Codecademy

Codecademy is an excellent resource for learning new programming languages and coding techniques. They provide lessons and exercises for everything from basic HTML and CSS to JavaScript, PHP, jQuery, Ruby, Python and so much more. They even have projects for you to accomplish by utilizing programming languages to create and style various web features.

They break projects down into numbered tasks to tackle, each one with hints and steps to complete in order to move on. Some of their sample projects include animating your name, creating your own animated galaxy, or building your own website. Aside from creating web applications and mobile apps, Codecademy is a great place to gain confidence in learning and using new programming skills and techniques.

Codecademy.com

Codecademy.com

PW Student-Run Website The Culture Bubble Launches

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Sometimes, opportunity knocks. Other times, you have to chase that sucker down the street. This is what Richa Choubey, senior Professional Writing/Information & Media student, had to do. Michigan State University has a lot of great organizations and resources as does the Professional Writing program itself, but she saw room for something more.

“I was in a Visual Rhetoric class with Haley and I was looking around and I just noticed that everyone was on Buzzfeed half the time. Even I was on Buzzfeed… For whatever reason it just dawned on me one day that that’s a perfect professional writing thing for us to have as a club. Wouldn’t it be cool if everyone was looking at our site instead?”

She saw an opportunity for students to collaborate, especially drawing on the versatility of PW students, and engineer a creative hub from the bottom up for student writers to publish their ideas. Together, Choubey and Haley Erb (Junior, Professional Writing) set out to gather writers and web developers to make the idea a reality. They focused on the idea of showcasing student’s work in an entirely student-made and student-run publication. Through word of mouth, the club grew steadily, surviving the summer break and gaining momentum through the fall. Thus, the Culture Bubble was born. The project, marketed as an opportunity to write in the style of sites like Buzzfeed and hellogiggles, attracted students for a variety of reasons, but most were drawn in by the opportunity to get real world experience and the freedom to write what they liked.

“I need a platform to launch the beginnings of a portfolio for my career and this is a great place for it.” Akshita Verma, a Sophomore in the Neuroscience (Pre-Med) and Journalism programs, explained. Similar to how the PW program strives to help its students produce impressive work for the real world, the Culture Bubble also provides opportunities for students to flesh out their portfolios and showcase examples of their work in a space made by students, for students.

The Culture Bubble has four sections that encompass their interests: MSU, Pop Culture, Sass, and Grab Bag. Where Sass includes snarky editorial-type articles, Grab Bag is the catch-all for everything that doesn’t quite fit into the other categories. Created during the inception of the Culture Bubble, these sections were based on topics members wanted to write about.

“I like that I am able to show off my own work, the work that I choose to make rather than assignments,” said Professional Writing Sophomore and editor of the Pop Culture section, Alyssa Smith. “I just like that I am able to show off my own work. I can choose what I wanna write about and how I wanna write about it.” While the club keeps frequent deadlines for articles to be finished, it encourages members to write about their individual interests. This not only strengthens the overall diversity of the material, but it allows students to explore topics they might not be able to otherwise.

“It’s nice to be able get a platform to publicize the stuff that you wrote in that sort of regard. It’s a kind of stepping stone to get my work around,” said Shannon Roe-Butler, a Senior in Professional Writing and English and the Sass section editor for the Culture Bubble. By establishing a student-made hub for student work, the Culture Bubble provides an admirable space for students to exercise creative freedom and showcase their individuality.

Choubey also hopes that it will provide a stronger network among alumni, comparing her experience in Telecasters to her vision for the Culture Bubble. “I already had a network there from the work that I had been doing. I knew that there were people out there that I could look up to and reach out to and have something in common with and I wanted that for Professional Writing as well. Because our alumni network is amazing, and they’re reachable, but there’s nothing that really binds us together other than the major. And while the major is small, there should be this concrete sort of thing that we can all bond over. Eventually one day we can all be a big family.”

Laura Julier, Director of Professional Writing and advisor for the Culture Bubble, expresses her hopes for the club and its future:  “I’m very excited to support PW students in organizing and creating Culture Bubble. It’s yet another example of students listening to one another, identifying a need, and creatively responding. Richa and Haley have been really smart in how they’ve imagined this as an online publication, especially in the structures they’ve created to curate the writing that will be published. I think these writers are going to reach an audience way beyond MSU.”

The website officially launches March 31st.