Creative Writing and The Job Market: Part Three

In a career-focused college, some may ask: how do outlets like literary magazines contribute to college students’ professional goals? how do they provide students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities? and why do we need venues like literary magazines?  This post series looks at each of these questions in-depth and offers advice to college students who are looking to navigate an increasingly challenging (and rewarding!) job market landscape.

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Why do we need venues like literary magazines?

Too often, we get caught up in the details of everyday life.  Is it going to rain?  Did I pay that bill on time?  Where did I leave my keys?  Of course, it’s important to be able to follow directions, place a budget, and stay organized, but it also important to nurture and develop our creativity.

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Literary magazines offer writers the opportunity to create, share, engage, and yes, even empathize.  

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Creating and sharing creativity work is the most exhilarating, terrifying, and rewarding thing we do.  Often, the creative process must be done alone or whatever alone looks like to you.  It could be in your bedroom at a desk.  It could be in a crowded coffeeshop in the back corner.  It could even be on a park bench down on a river walk.  Wherever or however it is, you are shaping and structuring alone.

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The writing process can be exciting and frustrating and wonderful and awful–often all of those emotions at the same time.  

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Conquering the Writing Blues

anxietyWriting anxiety looks different for everyone.  For some, it means that sick feeling in their stomach when faced with a blank screen.   For others, it means cleaning the apartment, doing the laundry, playing in a pick-up game—anything to avoid having to write that paper.  Writing anxiety looks different for everyone, but the key here, is that everyone experiences it.

On Thursday, April 11, several students, faculty, and staff attended a workshop on writing anxiety sponsored by the English Department and The Writing Center to talk about past experiences and to share tips for managing future anxieties.  The discussion was moderated by a three-person panel: Professors Matthew Vickless and Melissa Wehler as well as student expert Dezmyn Edmond.  Each panelist discussed a personal example of how they have experienced one of the three fears that generate writing anxiety: fear of judgment, fear of success, and fear of process.

Participants also discussed their ‘fears’ about writing as the conversation turned towards tips to manage anxiety, including reaching out to friends for help, calming your ‘inner critic,’ setting time limits on projects, and letting a piece of writing ‘cool down.’  Participants were given a pamphlet on writing anxiety created by the English faculty based on an article from Inside Higher Ed called ‘Conquering writing anxiety’.

Students offered this advice to help you tame that inner critic (I can’t!  I don’t understand! I won’t get it!) and get down to work:

Writing Anxiety

For more on managing your writing blues, check out Pacify your inner critic from Psychology Today and Tame your inner critic from Inside Higher Ed as well as the ‘Conquering writing anxiety’ article for tips, tricks, and ways to up your writing game.

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Melissa WehlerMelissa Wehler, Ph.D. serves as the Assistant Dean of General Studies where she teaches classes on writing, literature, and film.  Her academic writing has been published in several essay collections including Demons of the Body and Mind and Transnational Gothic where she discusses topics including madness, disability studies, the gothic, and nationalism.

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10 Ideas to Help Inspire Your Award-Winning Poem

Poetry Contest

Want to submit to Central Pen’s Poetry Contest but don’t know where to start?  Check out these 10 ideas to help inspire your award-winning poem:

  1. What would your favorite word look like? Smell like? Taste like? Feel like? Who would it invite to lunch?  Would it be talkative or quiet?  Where would it go?
  2. Where is the last place you felt safe?  Who was there?  Who wasn’t there?  What did it look like?  Was it a physical space? Mental?  Emotional? Spiritual?
  3. When did you first fall in love with writing?  How young were you?  How old were you?  What inspired you then?  What inspires you now?  Did someone or something help you discover your inner author?
  4. What does spring taste like?  Is it earthy or fresh?  Is it smooth or gritty?  What does it feel like on your teeth, gums, and tongue?  What would happen if you swallowed it?
  5. How would you describe yourself using sounds?  Are you loud like BOOM?  Are you smooth like swoosh?  Do you clomp or swish when you move?  Are your dreams like plink or pow?
  6. What place symbolizes your childhood?  What does it look like? Smell like? Taste like? Feel like? Would you go back?  Would you live there?  Are you still living there?
  7. What is your favorite memory from the past year?  Who was there to share it?  Who wasn’t?  What did it feel like?  What did it look like?  How did it change you?
  8. What is sitting next to you?  Why is it there?  Is it important?  Useless?  Is it something you would like to share with someone?  Is it something you want to keep private?
  9. Who do you wish you were talking to right now?  What do they look like?  Why are they important?  Could you talk to them if you wanted?  Would they want to talk to you?
  10. How would you describe home using only tastes?  Is it a hot meal?  Is it dessert?  Is it something you want to eat as a snack or as a dinner?  Is it something you want to eat all the time or not very often?  How would it feel if you swallowed it?

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April 5, 2014 · 9:35 pm

Annual Poetry Contest Arrives!

Contest Flyer [Click to Zoom]

[Click to Zoom]

To celebrate April as National Poetry Month, The Central Pen will be having a written poetry contest open to all current students!

 1st place winner will receive $100, 1 year free membership to The Academy of American Poets, and publication in The Central Pen.

2nd place winner will receive $50 and publication in The Central Pen.

3rd place winner will receive $25 and publication in The Central Pen.

To submit, please send an email with a subject line of your Last Name_Poetry Contest to MelissaWehler@centralpenn.edu. In the email, please include your name,  address, phone number, and the email address with one original poem as an attachment. Do not include your name on the poem itself.

All poems due no later than April 25, 2014.  Winners will be noticed by May 15, 2014.

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Creative Writing and The Job Market: Part Two

In a career-focused college, some may ask: how do outlets like literary magazines contribute to college students’ professional goals? how do they provide students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities? and why do we need venues like literary magazines?  This post series looks at each of these questions in-depth and offers advice to college students who are looking to navigate an increasingly challenging (and rewarding!) job market landscape.

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How do literary magazines  provide our students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities?

The easy answer: become a student editor!  As a student editor,  your words and work will be read by future employers, which will give you some control over your internet presence.  In an increasingly digital world, our students must be prepared not just with the traditional tools of the trade (well-written cover letters, resumes, and letters of recommendation) but also an online presence that enhances those qualities outlined in those materials.  

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Like it or not, employers and recruiters use your Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to get a sense of the ‘real’ you.

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f-u-p

We have all read about the potential dangers and pitfalls social media pages are posing to potential job seekers (not to mention if you are already employed). Writing for a professionally reviewed and edited blog allows you to get your name out there in a way that is not only safe, but beneficial! 
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Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

elizabeth-gilbert-at-tedAre you stuck inside today?  Wishing that you were not sitting in the path of the winter storm?  Want to get your creative juices flowing?  Well, check out this short video.

It’s TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of best-selling work Eat, Pray, Love, where she talks about the “elusive” genius inside us all.

So, are you ready to tap into your elusive genius?  Here some help to get you started:

  • What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
  • How would you survive the end of the world?  Brains, braun, beauty?
  • What would you do if you could go back in time and meet yourself?
  • What would you do with a forbidden book of knowledge?
  • How would spend in the next hour if you were invisible?

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UCre8 presents: The Jeffers Project

JeffersThe Jeffers Project is a dramatic presentation of poetry written by local author, Maria James-Thiaw and Pennsylvania native, Robinson Jeffers. Jeffers is being honored this year by the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Program. The part of Jeffers is being played by Steve Anderson, while Maria James-Thiaw plays the voice of the contemporary poet. The event, directed by UCre8 founder, Janet Bixler, is being presented in conjunction with the Poetry Out Loud competition at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore on Thursday, February 6th at 6 PM. Admission is free. Continue reading

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Creative Writing and the Job Market: Part One

In a career-focused college, some may ask: how do outlets like literary magazines contribute to college students’ professional goals? how do they provide students with intellectual and professional advancement opportunities? and why do we need venues like literary magazines?  This post series looks at each of these questions in-depth and offers advice to college students who are looking to navigate an increasingly challenging (and rewarding!) job market landscape.

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How do outlets like literary magazines contribute to our student’s professional goals?

A 2013 survey of 318 employers revealed that writing and related skills are at the top of my employers’ and recruiters‘ “must have!” lists:

93% of employers said that a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems is more important than a job candidate’s undergraduate degree.

95% say they prioritize hiring college graduates with skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.

80% of employers agree that regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.

95% of those surveyed say that it is important that new hires demonstrate ethical judgement and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.

So, how does a literary magazine help students to gain these skills?  Let’s look at them individually.

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Finding the Write Place

Some of the best places to write bring peace, tranquility, and harmony. These are the places that evoke the “creative juices” and have inspired some of the best works of literature.  Being in a place helps your thoughts run wild, and you can hear yourself think.

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Call it a sanctuary–that special place where you can use the pen as your paintbrush and the paper as your blank canvas.

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Writers: Starving Artists or Career-Minded Professionals?

In the class room I am known as Professor Thiaw, a full time professor teaching mainly literary or cultural courses. What students may not see, is that I am also a professional writer, published under the names Maria C. James (before marriage) and Maria James-Thiaw.

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For me, writing is not a hobby, but a life-long career, and I am a working artist, not a starving one.

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Writing, in its many forms, is both an art and a process. While many people spend their spare time working out their feelings by writing, it takes a lot of effort to become a professional writer. The professional writer’s work doesn’t stay in their diary, but eventually rests on a book shelf (whether literal or virtual), available for public scrutiny. Continue reading

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