Event Recap of Jumpstart your Summer Writing, 5/9/18
On May 9, Ulrich Baer (NYU), Susan Ferber (Oxford University Press), Martha Hodes (NYU), and Theresa MacPhail (Stevens Institute of Technology) came together to present their tips, tricks, and strategies for catalyzing writing, considering the opportune break between spring and fall classes. MacPhail, began the panel by stating “writing is thinking.” She suggested setting aside designated time for writing, saying “you can’t find writing time, you make writing time.” She also proposed setting realistic goals about what you’ll do during your scheduled writing time; taking regular breaks; and avoiding editing as you write, because it may impede producing new work. Finally she reminded the audience that “guilt may feel productive, but it isn’t,” urging the audience to replace guilt over a missed writing session with a drive to make up the lost time.
Susan Ferber prompted the audience to consider what their ideal outreach to a publisher would look like, and strive to make that your first impression. She recommended having a calling card of sorts, which distills and presents your work in the best possible light, with an annotated table of contents, a select bibliography, and a discussion of competitive titles. Writers should consider who will buy and read their book, and the length of their book.
Martha Hodes stated that different methods work for different writers, and that finding what works and prompts one to write is imperative to successful writing. She suggested making two maps, one for realistic goals for your summer writing; and one map for your ideal inspired writing. The first map should have specific tasks, and a time schedule with breaks. Some writers work best when they are accountable to others, or when they have a concrete goal to work towards (such as the Grafton Challenge). The map to one’s ideal inspired writing asks the maker what time of day, physical setting, “scene setting” or mood, and timing structure (such as the pomodoro or “tomato timer“) helps the writer produce their best work.
Ulrich Baer concluded the panel by sharing some tips from his writing process. Ritual is important to Baer, who prefers to write for short periods of time, and reward himself with coffee when he writes at cafes. Baer emphasized that texting, computers, and email have served as a distraction from his writing, so he chooses to write by hand and then edit typed manuscripts by hand. Baer and other panelists suggested dictating or recording yourself when you’re having trouble articulating an idea. Baer suggested doing warm up writing activities such as book reviews to get yourself in the mindset to write.
The panel concluded with a question and answer session with the audience, who extrapolated on and shared certain writing methods that worked for them, as well as posing questions to the panel.