My Journey as a Writer

Over the past semester I feel I have grown as a writer. By having to write a variety of different articles for my feature writing class this past semester I have, first off, learned exactly that – how to write different types of articles. I have also gained confidence in taking on writing assignments that are unknown territory for me because I have never done that certain type of article before.

My personal experience article challenged me to construct my sentences and use words that would allow my readers to feel as if they were actually there experiencing the same experience I was. I have always admired authors that can take you from reality, just through the use of their words, to a fantasy land or different world. The most fascinating part of it all is they can literally make you feel as if you are there yourself. How absolutely amazing is that! This is the tough part about writing, but I also believe this is the most fun part of writing – especially when you are able to create this world away from reality just by putting your imagination into words on paper!

The articles in this class have helped refined my writing and taught me better ways to cut out unnecessary and filler words and how to use a much more colorful language. A person’s senses are a crucial component to how humans interpret the world around them, therefore, I have a stronger knowledge how to pick words that connect to readers’ senses and in turn this will trigger certain feelings or memories for them.

After this semester and my feature writing class I have one last semester of college and then I am graduating. However, this does not mean that I will stop learning how to better my writing but with graduation and the possibility of landing a career revolved around writing my writing skills will only continue to be developed, and I will continuously be learning more and more about being a good and effective writer.

I still have much growing to do especially in relation to deadlines, such as for a job, because I am a pretty slow writer. I need to grow in becoming better at being able to write a good piece in a shorter amount of time than I currently take.

I would just like to close this blog post by quoting Buddha. “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Keep this inspiring quote in mind my fellow feature writer peers. To those of you that are graduating this semester or next and to those that are not graduating this particular year remember this saying and anything can come true for you! Best wishes!

The Journalist at Work

I always feel October is an extremely busy month compared to all the others. School always seems to be in extra full swing in October; especially now that I am a senior because it is not just about classes but throwing in all these extra things for school that I need to do to find that first job after college. It is also my birthday month, the last month to enjoy the weather and be outside before Wisconsin becomes deadly, and Halloween is during this month which means lots of preparing of a costume for all those Halloween gatherings. October is overwhelming trying to balance a social and school life. Being a senior the social part is definitely lacking.

With all of that out of my system I must say that I feel slightly behind in my interview processes for my Feature Writing class. I still have yet to know who I would like to interview for my professional journalist article and even though I know who I would like to interview for my personality profile I still have yet to make arrangements for an interview. Due to the fact that school is so stressful I am trying to come up with ideas for my interviews that ultimately will make the assignment fun, interesting, and enjoyable for school sometimes lacks, for me, in those areas.

I am very nervous. I am nervous about my grades, I am nervous about conducting interviews with people, I am nervous about finding a job, I am nervous about student loans, and the list goes on and on and on. I am nervous about just about everything at this point because that is what senior year in college is…stressful!

To try and balance everything that is going on in my life I just do one thing at a time and prioritize items that need to be completed first in a manner of importance of each item. I also have numerous to do lists, post it reminders (everywhere and anywhere might I add), an assignment notebook, and a calendar to keep on track. Yes, I fall behind and give into distractions, but I am only human.

Even with a never ending to do list I try to go throughout my days in a flowing type of manner as whatever happens happens and everything happens for a reason attitude. I may be stressed to my max the majority of the time, but I also try to do things that make me happy and content and try, even though sometimes it is very little, to add some enjoyment to the regular priorities of school.

An observation about life that I have learned is that life happens. No matter how much I worry about the interviews I have to conduct the bottom line is they will work out and everything will continue on. Everything in life happens for a reason and I constantly remind myself of this!

Who am I?

Hi!  My name is Kelli!  I currently am a student at University of Wisconsin Whitewater, and I am a second year senior or also known as a SUPER SENIOR! I am a Broadcast/Web/Print Journalism Major and a Communication Minor.  This particular year is a very important one for it is my last year for I will be graduating this upcoming May 2015.  Graduating year is a very bitter sweet experience.  You could say I am a writer, feature writing student, and a budding journalist, for I am all of these.

I have a handsome Himalayan cat named Marley and a plump guinea pig named Penelope.  My Momma has nicknamed her Penny Pig.  I tell you about my animal children because they mean the world to me and bring me endless joy but also because my love for animals has molded my career aspirations. 

My dream career would be writing for a magazine that is specifically about animals.  I am highly interested in the natural world and am an extreme advocate for protecting and preserving the environment and its plant and animal inhabitants.  Through my writing I want to be a persuasive advocate for the natural world and influence others to support and act to protect nature.  In this position I will be able to educate people about the wonders and life the natural world provides and how WE, as people, can strive to protect the world.

Journalists provide the public with stories and information that allows them to govern themselves on a daily basis.  Combining my passion for animals and using powerful writing I will influence people to appreciate the incredible and fascinating affects the natural world can provide.  I want to give that without a voice or language the opportunity to be heard!

Good Journalists are Aware of Nonverbal Cues

In the article How to Read Body Language More Effectively, by Eric Ravenscraft published on Lifehacker, the suggestion is to be able to have a better understanding of how another is feeling is to be observant of how comfortable or uncomfortable the person is through their display of nonverbal ques.  It is human nature to put a lot of emphasis on facial expressions, however, according to this article the face is not the most honest part of the body.  Surprisingly, it is the legs and feet!  Therefore, it is important to give equal or even more attention to other body parts than the face.

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one chocolate COMMUNICATIONS

The information presented in this article is useful to journalists because journalists are the seekers of news and stories and to discover this news and these stories journalists must interact with people constantly.  A journalist that has a better understanding of a person’s body language may be able to approach the person in a different way to uncover a new story.  What I mean by this is if someone is being interviewed by several news organizations that person may tell each news organization the same story.  Now, say one particular journalist has sense of the person’s body language and decides to direct questions and approaches the person with topics of conversation based on the interviewee’s body language, this understanding could produce a completely new telling of the story.  The journalist has found what the person is comfortable with and what discomforted the person.  This particular journalist could get a completely new twist to the story for the person was comfortable and divulged more information to this journalist than to the other journalists.

Also, for journalists, words are the paint and the paper is their canvas in which they place their paint (words) to paint their picture (story) for their audience.  A journalist that understands and detects nonverbal cues would be able to paint a picture for their audience members of how the people in their stories truly looked, even though their words may have said otherwise.  In feature writing it would add content to how the person in the story reacted to certain questions or topics; whether they opened up to certain topics or subconsciously slinked away from certain conversation.  Journalists can use these cues to gauge comfort levels and bring awareness to how the person is reacting.

Journalists write stories about other people for the people; therefore, it is crucial they understand features such as body language to create an accurate picture for their audience but to also connect to those they are continuously interacting with.  In the long run, a journalist that takes the time to understand the comforts and discomforts of each individual will gain that journalist a high level of respect from their interviewees.  That journalist may also land the best angle of a story compared to his or her competitors and will be credible amongst his or her followers.  How to Read Body Language More Effectively gives an in-depth analysis of how each body part, including the head and face, torso, arms, and legs and feet, can display the comfort or discomfort level a person is experiencing.

Journalists Must Check Spelling

Bob Shryock has been with the South Jersey Times for 40 years and just recently his name was misspelled three times in one story.  Kelly Roncace wrote the story about Shryock’s career.  Shryock said he laughed at the errors.

Sometimes in life letting the little things go, as Shryock did in this instance, is healthy.  However, it is a journalist’s duty to the people they are featuring in their stories to correctly spell the person’s name.  Also, it is a journalist’s duty to their readers to spell people in their stories name’s right.

In broadcast media when a reporter pronounces someone’s name incorrectly they are sneered at for it is obvious to viewers that the reporter did not take the time to be knowledgeable on the person and the story.  It is embarrassing for the reporter because it shows that they did not do their homework.  Also, this is how reporters lose credibility, quite quickly.  Therefore, it should be no less light of a situation when a print or online writing journalist does this.

It is extremely frustrating for the person that is in the story when they see their name misspelled.  Being actively involved in 4-H I was continuously in the local paper and they, over many years, would always have different misspellings of my name.  It was disappointing and frustrating and when it happened I would always think, “Really? They couldn’t get my name right?”.

Even though OOPS! SOUTH JERSEY TIMES MISSPELLS ITS COLUMNIST’S NAME THREE TIMES IN ONE STORY brings light to situations like this it is journalists’ duties to their readers and the people in their stories to properly spell people’s names.  If that means checking, double checking, and checking again…so be it!  A dedication to your works credibility will be appreciated by followers and have its payoffs.

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Simple Advice to Reduce Stress

The reason I chose this simple and short blog post as my post for discussion this week is because it is accurately current and relevant for all us UW-Whitewater students.

As we are on the home stretch to finishing up this semester on top of normal class time, assignments, and readings we now have huge papers, projects, and not to mention final exams approaching.  There just does not seem as if there is enough time to finish everything, hence all-nighters become a norm at this time.  Not only are many of us drowning in school work but also are part of organizations and how could I forget, the majority of us are working too!  Stressed?  I know my stress levels are at their maximum right now.

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According to lifehacker in Stop Telling Yourself You’re Too Busy, the truth is that we are all much less busy than we think we are.  Reassuring yourself by not telling yourself you are too busy can actually reduce a lot of stress.  This simple advice can be utilized by anyone.  Journalists can use this simple trick when they are overwhelmed with producing newsworthy stories, while also trying to look ahead to the next attention grabbing story, to staying current on news, while also tackling the everyday tasks of life.  Journalists perform all these tasks in a given day, plus many more which can be extremely stressful, but by reassuring themselves and not telling themselves they are so busy could reduce their stress.

Journalists Must Have Twitter

Steve Buttry states, “If you’re a journalist not using Twitter in 2014, you’ve chosen to be less skilled, less relevant, less visible and less connected.”  Buttry feels Twitter is a great location to find encouragement and could even be a source for job leads.  He shared his personal experience of losing his job when Digital Media First announced that it was shutting Thunderdome, but also recalled that it was a good day of embrace from friends on Twitter.  Through Twitter, Buttry has received numerous job leads and even references by notable persons.

Why journalists should use Twitter: When you’re fired, it helps with encouragement and actual job prospects is a very informative blog post with a real world perspective filled with personal experiences.  Buttry is not giving just a theory of why journalists should have a Twitter he is stating journalists must have a Twitter account and is able to back his statement with first hand experiences.

Being journalism students it would be suitable for us all to have Twitter accounts so by the time we are seeking employment we will be well knowledgeable and active in the media.  Also, it could lead to possibly finding job leads when, and which will ultimately happen to all of us, the first position does not go accordingly.

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Advice for Tackling A Task

I found Why Dabbling Is Good for the Brain to be a fun and interesting read.  Neuroscientist Jeff Stibel said the brain is only able to handle one task for so long before it shuts down, but the brain is able to handle a lot of many different tasks.  Stibel gives the example that taking a personal-interest course is a way to change the challenge for the brain; which then, makes you more productive and efficient when you return to the task at hand.

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Journalism students could really benefit from developing a strategy that embodies this advice.  For example, a journalism student may write his or her story, get it done in one sitting, hand it in, and not give it another thought.  Embracing Stibel’s advice the student would break up the tasks before handing it in by coming back to the story after doing something different.  By taking a break and coming back to the task at hand, in this case a story, the student may find errors they did not catch the first time around or be able to look at the story in a different way; resulting in, changing up the story to create a new perspective or angle.  This advice can be used specifically in relation to this class for we are working with technology (which can be temperamental) and for me personally many of the programs we are utilizing in this course are new to me and have proved to be frustrating at times.