Tag Archives: Writing

Day 7: Writing Retreat Wrapup

This afternoon I head back to Chicago. If there’s one thing I’ll take away from this week’s trip, it’s that I need to start making writing a part of my everyday life more consistently. Even when I haven’t had much to say, it’s been therapeutic to force the process. I sat for awhile this morning trying to debate what I should work on and decided to contribute to a new project I started yesterday, thanks to a friend.

So, was this writing retreat a success? I think so. I wish I had done more actual writing for my novel. However, I did complete two weeks worth of planning in just one week. So that’s something. I also got to spend time exploring a new city, taking in the culture, and listening to the locals on advice for where to eat, drink and people watch. It was inspiring and rewarding.

I also learned a bit about myself. Aside from work, I’ve never traveled alone. Not like this. I was a little anxious at the start of the trip. But, it turns out, traveling alone is pretty great. Don’t get me wrong, I love exploring places with friends and family, but a solo trip is something very different. You’re on your own schedule. If a shop looks cute, you can just walk in. If you’re ready for bed at 7 p.m., you go to bed. You can wake up 5:30 a.m., turn all of the lights on and start writing, without worrying you’ll wake someone up. I think I gained a bit of independence and confidence in myself this week, and I’m pretty proud of that.

Today, I spent time writing the first post for Chicago Beer Club, my new project. Head over to ChiBeerClub to check it out!

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Day 5: Writing Retreat Thoughts

Today, I literally have nothing to say. I spent the morning working on writing exercises that challenged my creativity and frustrated me. Character building is hard. In the afternoon, I read short stories and a book on the practice of writing. I read about the struggle of forcing oneself to write when the moment isn’t right; and now I’m feeling that pain. So, unfortunately, today I have nothing to say. Tomorrow, I’ll dedicate two hours to putting words on the page, regardless of a block, to see what comes out. Tomorrow, I’ll have something to say.

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Day 2 [Late]: Writing Retreat Tweet

While my Sunday was was derailed by baseball, sunshine and house hunting, I did still write (a little). See below for my NPR poetry submission:

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Day 1: Writing Retreat

I came to San Diego this week for a writing retreat. One of my goals while I’m here is to write something every day. Ultimately, I’d like to (at least) get started on a novel. Today, this will have to suffice for my writing – lame, I know. But it’s closing in on 1 a.m. Chicago time (11 p.m. local) and I’ve got a busy day planned for tomorrow!

I’ll be soliciting the assistance of a number of resources on my quest, including:

  • Content and exercises from “The Writer” magazine
  • Poetry and fiction writing packet from a college course with Professor Peter Ramos
  • “The Paris Review” – a dive into the art of the short story
  • “The Ode Less Travelled” by Stephen Fry – a sort of how to to “unlocking” your inner poet
  • “Thunder and Lightning” by Natalie Goldberg – a guide to turning inspiration into a product
  • “Ready. Set. Novel!” – a writer’s workbook

There are a number of online resources I have on a list to investigate, but those might just have to wait until next time. Like I read in an article on the flight today, you don’t know the direction of your story until you finish the first draft. So, there will be plenty of time to improve.

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Looking for Something to Say

It’s been more than a year since my last post; and I’m truly ashamed of that. It says on my wrist, “I’d rather write than speak,” but I haven’t been putting pen to paper much that often. However, here I am just more than a year later in flight to Phoenix writing to you again. I never take the time to do what I love.

Growing up, I wrote before I could. I made up stories on paper, retold my dreams and jotted down memories. All my life I’ve leaned on the power of the word to get me through. Whether times have been happy or sad, I’ve found comfort in the genuine attachment to the written word.

I don’t do it much now, but I prefer writing in pencil. It’s something about the feel of graphite on paper. But pencil smears, it smudges and disappears over time. And now, it’s so much easier to open a laptop than track down my notebook. Still, I wish I wrote in it more.


It seems kind of worthless, doesn’t it – writing for the first time in more than 365 days about the idea of writing. Is it that I have nothing to say? No, we all know that’s not true. I do think there’s something to be said about the accessibility to writing online. I’ve never written for others, only myself.

Better to write for yourself and no have no public, thank to write for the public and have no self. – Cyril Connolly

So while I want to write and share my thoughts, opinions, emotions and feelings with the World Wide Web, I’m also terrified to do so. Scared to be judged, worried I’ll be misunderstood. Yet still I don’t put pencil to paper and write for myself.


As scary as it may be, I do like to share my writing with others. In college, we had writing workshops where we’d share our stories, poetry and samples with others. The feedback was thoughtful, never hurtful and inspiring. I took to creative assignments without fear, and often surprised even myself with the end result.

Maybe it’s just that I had more to say at 20, or maybe it’s time to open those old workshop assignments to get the words flowing again.

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In Flight Entertainment

En route from Philly back to Chicago, I got up to use the bathroom – something I hate doing, peeing on airplanes. While walking back down the aisle of the fully-loaded plane, I realized that about 90 percent of the travelers were using some type of electronic device. Most were on tablets of some sort, a lot on their smart phones and few from the stone age (like myself, now) were on laptops. One thing that I did see, and was (sadly) surprised by, there were a couple reading books! And no, I’m not just talking from Kindles, Nooks and iPads, I mean real paperback novels. Some were even flipping their way through magazines.

This brings me to something my aunt said last (Saturday) night: Autism is survival of the fittest. Actually, I shouldn’t quote her on that, I think she said that one of her co-workers made the comment – forgive me, I don’t remember specifically. Anyways, as I did when I first heard the statement, you may be wondering where this assumption/belief/thinking comes from. My aunt explained that as we get more wrapped up and involved with electronics, there becomes less of a need for face-to-face communication. Funny how things all tie together, as the (paperback) book I was reading pre-bathroom trip discussed how those who are autistic are not able to look others in the eye, which leads to difficulties communicating.

Whether or not there’s any truth in the statement above, I have no idea. I do not know enough about autism or the true effects that electronics have on communication skills. However, I do have my own perspective of the issue of electronics, which I think take away from real conversation. In fact, it takes away from a lot of other interaction as well, at least in my opinion. Take for example when you first discovered the Internet. If you are around my age, it was when you were in your preteens. My friends and I used AIM to chat with each other, so we were still communicating. Now, that somehow seems less.

With the birth of social media, it seems as though the actual conversations have slowed. This may seem to counter today’s teens who spend their hours staring at tiny smartphone screens texting their friends, checking their Twitter feeds and the like – often simply reposting a “friend’s” post. But when I was just getting to explore the world wide web, it was something I used when at home with nothing else to do. It was something that I did when I couldn’t be hanging out with my friends. From what I’ve seen, kids today are more interested in what’s on their electronics than what’s happening right in front of them. And to be completely honest, they aren’t the only ones. I’ve been guilty of it myself, as have a number of my friends, colleagues and family members.

Not having a child, I could be wrong with my perceptions. But the use of electronics is changing the way we operate in more than just the realm of communication. I’ve seen video clips of small children unable to flip the pages of a magazine, because they are more familiar with their parents’ tablets. My brother and I have discussed children’s inabilities to write well, because they no longer have to put pen to paper. At some point, won’t they even be unable to spell correctly, as speak to type and other applications become more commonplace? Well, that’s a frightening thought.

I do think that there are a number of benefits for going electronic, especially in the classroom. Isn’t it easier for children to carry around their iPads with all of the books they’ll need for every class in one light-weight place, rather than on their shoulders in backpacks that are too heavy? The Internet is a wonderful outlet for researching, especially when writing papers. So, yes it is a good thing that kids these days have access to all of these things – but what’s the limit?

I, for one, will find it a sad day in the future if we are no longer talking with one another face-to-face. As will I be disappointed if my children aren’t taught to write the alphabet – in both print and cursive! While I recognize the fading age of the paperback novel, I mourn its death. I propose that kids are encouraged to continue passing hand-written notes in class. I hope little girls keep writing in their journals, hiding the keys to these locked dreams away from their big brothers. Electronics are great, but there’s something to be said for the written word and face-to-face communication.

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Social Content Marketing

As an editor and writer in content marketing, it’s important to stay updated with social trends of the field. I, for one, am fascinated over the information available with services such as Google Analytics and, recently discovered, Google Media Tools. To say the least, I’m a big Google fan.

I think the information available with these two Google goodies can do a lot more than just increase SEO performance. These provide the keys to actually developing quality content that’s worth reading. Knowing what people are looking for makes it a lot easier to create it.

So, why aren’t writers doing this? Does there need to be more focus on SEO performance along with quality? Rather than simply focusing on the keywords, grammar, regularity of posts, linking and getting the actual writing done, there needs to be a focus on the research. This shouldn’t be left to the SEO specialists or client-facing roles, it needs to be a central focus of the writers and editors.

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Writers block?

I write for work, just what I’ve always wanted to do.  Now, I have nothing left. There aren’t any word left for me. Attempts at anything worth saying have left the page white. The thoughts, the emotions – they’re there. I’m just unable to transfer them from pen to paper. I want to write, I have things to say. There here, but they’re just stuck.

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Why Not Write?

I don’t know what else to do, so I guess I’ll write…

Should being laid off be that big of a surprise in the corporate world today? I have seen others suffer from downsizing. Hell, I’ve seen my own mother deal with it – she seemed to handle it much more gracefully than I. I even, inexplicably, saw it coming. Still, it hits me like a truck.

Partially for good reason, another part denial and finally pure laziness has allowed me to take “personal” days this week. What do I have to lose? Really, I think I have just been putting off the inevitable – unemployment. But, alas, tomorrow is mere hours away and marks my last day as a Content Specialist with Tribune Media Group. As of 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2013, I am back to where I started. Actually, I think I am even worse of than where I started… at least 10 extra steps back.

Having been fired, and now laid off, I can say that there is a difference and being laid off sucks way more. Not only was I doing my job, but I was doing it right and I was doing it well. So there’s absolutely no solace there. It just plain sucks.

I’m not one to feel sorry for myself. I tend to power through and make myself better from whatever obstacle has attempted to knock me down. But… this one is particularly rough. Maybe I’m just getting worn out, tired of struggling. It’s been an ongoing uphill war, albeit some of those battles have been much more difficult than others, and I’m spent.

So, I’m stuck. I’m tired of hearing, “Any word on the job front?” If there was, trust me, I’d be screaming it throughout the city’s streets. And don’t tell me, “You’ll find something”. Obviously I will, I don’t really have a choice. I have to carry on, but the wait until I find with what is the hardest part.

In a few months’ time, I’ll look back on this and see it as an opportunity. For now, I’m just ready to fast forward to that point.

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