By: Sarah Begovac
Writing is an important skill to have in any profession or field of study. The Interdisciplinary Writing Program started the Beautiful Writing Series (BWS) as a way to show how writing is utilized in different careers. Various professionals in diverse fields of study come to discuss what writing is like outside of the university in a panel discussion, where students and faculty are free to ask any questions that pertain to writing.
On September 29th, we invited two prominent members of the Flagstaff community to come and talk about their writing experience. Claire Martini is the Citizen Volunteer Coordinator for the Grand Canyon Trust and talked about writing for the Uplift Program, which is a climate conference for young people, by young people. Molly Joyce is the sales manager of Flagstaff Bike Revolution and talked about writing advertisements and web content for social media.
Both of these women addressed what it is like to write to an audience that is wide and diverse, and how language choices change when writing to a larger audience. Unlike writing a paper for a professor and turning it in for a grade, they talked about how their writing represents their business/organization so they have to make sure that their writing accurately reflects their company’s values. It’s important to utilize language in a way that appeals to your intended audience, and that audience changes depending on what medium you are using. For example, when writing a post to Facebook, it is important to keep the writing brief, concise, and straight to the point. Conversely, they discussed how writing for a grant requires more professional and technically sound language.
Lastly, they offered some personal advice for students who may be struggling with what they want to do with their degree after they graduate. Both suggested that it is better to graduate with something, whatever that degree may be, even if you change your mind later on, so that the degree can serve as a window for various opportunities. Also, they both stressed that it is essential to know how to write in any field of study. People will take you more seriously, and you will be seen as more credible.
On October 20th, the Interdisciplinary Writing Program hosted the second installment of the Beautiful Writing Series (BWS) that was open to the Flagstaff community. For this installment, we invited two panelists to discuss changes in the journalism industry and environmental activism in an open panel discussion. Audience members were encouraged to ask the panelists questions about writing at any point during the discussion.
The first panelist, Michael Chizhov, talked about writing for environmental activism based on his experience working for the Grand Canyon Trust, an organization that is dedicated to protecting and preserving the Colorado Plateau. His position entails communicating all of the Trust’s work to the general public, which mainly includes the volunteer community. In the panel, he discussed how writing is the most efficient form of communication for his team because they want to reach a wide audience. In order to do so, he talked about how social media plays a huge role in communication. For example, many of his volunteers keep up to date on current events regarding environmental preservation by using Facebook and their website’s blog. Michael discussed how he posts on these social media sites on a regular schedule in order to optimize audience involvement.
The second panelist, Elizabeth Edwards, talked about how the industry of journalism has changed since the 2008 economic recession. Elizabeth has been a primary leader in Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine and its many publications that are under the umbrella of MyNorth Media. Elizabeth began working as a staff writer, but is now a managing editor and manages other magazines such as Northern Home & Cottage, MyNorth Wedding, MyNorth Holidays, MyNorth Vacation Guides, and the website MyNorth.com. Elizabeth discussed how after the recession, the market changed and to keep pace she changed the format and style of her writing in her publications. She talked about condensing her articles and optimizing her material for web-based interactions with her readers. Which, of course, meant learning about search engine optimization and how to utilize social media as a form of advertisement and involvement. She stressed the importance of knowing your audience for any publication and staying up to date with current forms of communication mediums.
The Beautiful Writing Series will continue to bring in guests for the Spring 2017 semester, and we encourage students and faculty to attend these panel discussions to gain new perspectives on what professional writing is like outside of a university.
In addition to the Beautiful Writing Series, the Interdisciplinary Writing Program also offers the Writing Commons as a resource for assisting students with their writing skills. Students are encouraged to make appointments with a Writing Assistant so that they can work on their writing with another student.