Tag: writing

Professor Potty Mouth

I tweet whenever the mood strikes and I have access to a Twitter application. I tweet when I’m planning my classes, when I’m writing, when I’m reading, when I’m at the grocery store, when I’m on the bus, and sometimes when I’ve been drinking a little too much. I hardly censor myself.


November 10, 2010 2

I Have a Graduate Degree in Lying

The writer isn’t lying, not even close. Instead, the writer describes a truth different from the one defined by our justice system, the one we mean when we ask, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” When you answer “yes” to that question, you swear to tell the objective truth.


November 3, 2010 4

How to Have a Great Idea

How does having a great idea make you feel? Excited? Overwhelmed? Does anyone feel angry when they have a new idea? Probably not. When I have a new idea, especially one that I know I can actualize, I feel most alive. I feel grateful. So, how can you have great ideas more often?


November 1, 2010 2

Emily Dickinson at the Computer

I’m no Dickinson scholar, but I do know that she wrote her poems by hand. The dashes were a mark of great energy, violence, and passion. They break up sentences and phrases in a way that commas and semicolons can’t. They demonstrate a fierce continuation of thought, a determination to reach the end of the idea.


October 27, 2010 4

How to Be Rich, Even When You’re Poor

If you see an interesting word, and you learn how to use it, you can add it to your Bank of Vocabulary account, without any fees or interest rates! You can’t hoard endless amounts of your favorite snack or your favorite brand of clothing, but you can have as many of your favorite words as you want.


October 18, 2010 5

On “Word Garbage” and Heavy Reading

In order to be a great writer, you do have to write a “difficult” work. But what’s “difficult” is the subject matter, the relationships between the characters, and the emotional weight of the story. “Difficult” should describe the reader trying to get the work out of his or her head.


October 15, 2010 5

The Blinding Light of the Beginning Writer

I don’t like grammatical errors, not because I’m a grammar snob – I’m the first to admit that I don’t know every single rule and nuance – but because poor grammar in a piece of writing interferes with my ability to read it. Grammar can be taught; if someone wants to learn grammar badly enough, that person can learn it.


October 4, 2010 1

One Word Ahead of You

On college campuses, Communications majors have a reputation for being lazy because, well, how hard could it be to communicate? Communicating effectively is actually very difficult. In order to be an effective communicator, you need an expansive imagination. You must take into consideration all ways you could be misunderstood.


October 1, 2010 3

Imagine a Bookstore Where Books Had No Titles

I never begin a blog post without first giving it a title, but I usually change it before I click the “Publish” button. When I was in school, I’d normally use an obscenity as a placeholder on essays until I could come up with something better. It’s amazing that I never once forgot to change the title.


September 24, 2010 3

Breaking up Isn’t that Hard to Do

Writing a block of text is easy, and I can understand why a beginning writer might feel inclined to do so when he/she is composing a rough draft. One sentence follows the next. But even after they had a chance to type and revise a free-writing exercise, a lot of my students and colleagues just don’t include paragraph breaks.


September 17, 2010 3