Author Archives: aimeemurata

Why You Should Apply to Become a Writing Fellow

We are looking for the next group of Writing Fellows! For those of you who know that you want to apply, applications are due Thursday, April 5th at 1 PM. For those of you who are not so sure, here are a few of the many reasons why you should apply:

  • The Writer’s Process course: This course is required for Writing Fellows during the fall semester. In this class, you will not only read various articles about writing theory, how to teach writing, and how to help students with writing, but you will also gain insight into your own writing process. One of my favorite parts of this course was the intimate environment that allowed all of the WFITs (Writing Fellows In Training) to bond and learn together. You will be well-prepared (and excited!) to begin working in the Writing Center after this course.
  • Helping students: Barnard can be an extraordinarily competitive environment, so it is refreshing to have conversations with students that will help them think further about and become more confident in their writing. 
  • Helping yourself: There are many perks to being a Writing Fellow. For one, the pay is great, and there are many opportunities to earn extra money. I also feel like I am constantly learning about new subjects, new ideas, and new people whenever I work in the Writing Center or meet with a student from my attached class. You can’t help but to pick up new information when you’re reading a paper about Frankenstein and the sublime one day and a paper on Irish history the next day.
  • Becoming a part of the Writing Fellows Program: You will never feel alone once you become part of the Writing Fellows Program. With constant support from Pam Cobrin (the Writing and Speaking Fellows Director) and Cecelia  Lie (the Writing and Speaking Programs Coordinator), multiple large and small group meetings with Writing Fellows throughout the semester, and special programs like Fellow Fellows that allow you to bond and work with other WFs, there is always someone available to ask questions or seek advice. Working as a Writing Fellow is a learning process itself, so all Writing Fellows regardless of their level of experience or major are always looking to find new and better ways of working with students and writing.

Don’t wait any longer…apply now!

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Midterm Boost

Spring break is approaching, but before we can enjoy that sand and surf or the relief of sleep, we must survive the onslaught of midterms, papers, and thesis drafts. It’s easy to feel bogged down from all this writing. Rather than despair over your unfinished draft or turn to television in the hopes that your paper will magically write itself (trust me, we’ve all been there), read and reflect on these wise words:

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.”–Vladimir Nabokov

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Speak, Listen, and Write

If you’ve ever had an internship in media, chances are that you’ve experienced the joy of transcribing interviews. After spending hours transcribing an interview the other day, I started to think about how the interviewer and interviewee were speaking–how they often started a sentence, paused, and then went in a different direction; how that pesky “like” inserted itself even in the speech of mature adults. Their speech seemed strange to me when I saw it in written form on my word document. It was less structured, less formal, but also more natural.

This relationship between speaking and transcription reminded me of a student I recently worked with in the Writing Center. She claimed that she could easily and eloquently describe her argument and ideas out loud, but could not write them. This observation was accurate to a certain degree. She was not a “bad” writer as she claimed, but I found that her spoken ideas were clearer and more concise than her written ideas. I wondered what would happen if she recorded herself, and then transcribed her own ideas. Would this clarity in speech translate in an essay?

So, I have a challenge for those of you who are more comfortable speaking your ideas than writing them: record yourself, listen, and transcribe. See if your writing comes more naturally when it is connected to your speech. It may seem silly at first, but you’ll never know until you try. Sometimes you have no idea what’s in your head until you say it out loud. 

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Some Inspiration

There is a common misconception that writing always comes easily to “good” writers. “Good” writers seem to have a never-ending supply of words, ideas, and creativity, while “bad” writers struggle. Regardless of your level of comfort with writing, I think we’ve all had those days (or late nights) when we’ve stared at the blank computer screen, waiting for essays to magically write themselves or for the writer’s block-dam in our brains to burst.

I recently came across an article from O, The Oprah Magazine called, “Advice for Aspiring Writers” in which six best-selling and award-winning authors (including Toni Morrison, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Michael Cunningham) discuss the difficulties and frustrations of writing as well as the joys that can arise from it. Read more here: http://www.oprah.com/oprahsbookclub/Advice-to-New-Writers/1

Whether you’re an aspiring writer or a student who only writes in order to pass a class, this article shows that writing is often a difficult task for everyone regardless of their experience. So, the next time you have a bad case of writer’s block, just remember: even Pulitzer Prize winners have their off days.

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