What I Learned in Professional Writing Class Is…

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“One great way to grow not only your confidence but also your skill is to continually learn more about writing.” – Ali Luke

This semester I took a class about Professional Writing, it has given me the opportunity to gain a lot of knowledge about different aspects of life and myself. Much of what I’ve learned is about how the world works and how to get across to people through my writing. I learned how to use a blog, how to utilize LinkedIn and how to use Twitter.

I never thought I’d be the type of person to make and use Twitter even for a second. Mostly because I don’t really voice my opinion in my own words very often. I also don’t see the point of updating my status every time I do something. I mean, I do see the appeal of staying updated with people, mostly important people like celebrities, politicians, etc. But the idea of actually using it consistently never really appealed to me, so I never made one until this class. I was shown the benefits of Live Tweeting and how it can help not only in a work environment but also in a school setting. It never occurred to me that Twitter could be used in ways to help further someone’s education.

I also got to experience what it was like to be involved in an online community, even if it was only for a few hours. It made me realize that there are people who are willing to help others and that genuinely care about others. Since I’m not really the type to willingly start talking to other people this assignment was a pretty new experience for me. I was mostly afraid that no one would respond to my messages and I would have to find another community to try.

In the beginning of the class, I had a lot of anxiety over the fact that a lot of the assignments were things that I had never done before and were things that involved me talking about what I thought or reaching out to other people. I mostly keep my thoughts to myself, so having to actually put my thoughts into words for others to read and comment on made me pretty anxious. I soon came to realize that nothing bad was going to happen when I did voice my opinions. It also made me realize that when I reach out to people there are some who won’t be as helpful as others and that that’s just a part of life.

For a few years, I haven’t had much confidence in myself, or in my writing. I especially did not have enough confidence to start writing a blog or make articles for a website. Which was part of the reasons at the beginning of the class I was a little uncomfortable and uneasy. The thought of me being shoved out of my comfort zone was terrifying to me, but the more I was forced out of my comfort zone the easier things became. This class has helped me gain some confidence in myself and my writing, which I thought I would never be able to get back. In the future, I may be more willing to let people read more of my personal writings or let them be published.

Photo Credit: The Odyssey Online

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Finding the Information

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At the very beginning of the Hauteans in Motion project, I thought it was going to be pretty easy. I just needed to gather some information, write up my findings, take some pictures and add those pictures to my work. After a week or so I realized how hard it actually is to obtain the information I wanted to. At one point I wanted to write a little about the potential of the old Concannon High School in West Terre Haute and how it could be made into a place for the homeless or something productive. But after doing some research I realized that finding who owned the place and then finding people to interview about what it was like there and what it is being used for now was going to take time that I didn’t have to spare.

Most of my articles that I’m writing have been about me going into places and doing my research that way. But sadly, I do not drive and I live at home so I had to go off of my mother’s schedule to get a ride when she had the time and money. To add onto this I also had to work some of the restaurant owners to try to figure out if they would be in when I came by to visit. So most of my research and questioning have been through emails or Facebook messaging.

One of my articles is about the Indiana Theatre, I’ve been in there once before but only took a few photos at the time. So, I was hoping to get into contact with the owner and take a tour to take photos and ask questions. I emailed and called, but apparently they were too busy to bother contacting me back, so I’ve done a lot of internet research. It really upsets me that they wouldn’t want to promote the theatre on our website.

I’ve come to a major understanding of what journalists and news reporters go through. It also makes me respect them and what they do a lot more because I know how hard it is to gather information in a short amount of time. In this day and age, it’s hard to get and maintain a job when you have limited skills and connections. So, being able to be versatile and flexible today would definitely come in handy.

“Versatility in this context means having as many skills as possible to help you succeed.” – Tony Rogers

Photo Credit: Science Nutshell

Change is Inevitable

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This past week I spent a lot of time in town with a friend who was visiting from Texas. He had lived here previously so the area wasn’t completely new to him. There was one thing he kept saying for the first couple of days though that really stuck with me. He kept talking about how the area of Terre Haute and/or West Terre Haute had changed since he had left. He left the area about three years ago so it’s no wonder things had changed. He kept expressing how he didn’t know where anything was anymore or gawking at the new or different things.

The thing is though, I never really thought about how so many things have changed in the past couple years. I had watched the restaurants and stores be built or rebuilt so I knew what it had and would look like. So the concept of things being different had never occurred to me until he had said something about it. The idea of things changing around never seems to occur not until someone who’s been away for a while comes to visit and they need help maneuvering around the city again.

He stated that “It’s my home town, but it doesn’t feel like home anymore.” This statement seems so important, because it is true in a good and sad way. He recognizes that Terre Haute is his home and always will be but for him it’s frustrating because it’s not the way he remembers it to be. I find this intriguing because I still feel like it is still home it may have changed but it’s still home and I don’t really feel uncomfortable navigating the area. But watching him navigate the area was sometimes a struggle to watch. He got frustrated at one point because he remembered a certain coffee shop being in one place but when we drove by it wasn’t there and that seemed to frustrate him.

It seems odd the way things change and the people who live in the area don’t seem to notice it as being different. But then a former resident comes back in town and everything is suddenly brand new to them and people realize how different things truly are. It also amazes me that even though change can be a good thing some people become frustrated with the reality that it’s not the place they used to know. People become so stuck in their ways of doing things that the moment something changes it make them feel uncomfortable. I believe change can be a great thing and that it needs to be embraced. Maybe by starting this website about Terre Haute it’ll promote positive change for the future.

“If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” – Gail Sheehy

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The Potential that Surrounds Us

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There’s a big issue with the way Terre Haute and West Terre Haute is viewed. It is the thought that no matter what happens TH and WTH will never be any more than what it is. Which to most people they see it as the worst place to live, or like a hole they can’t seem to get out of. They don’t see the potential of what these places can be if given the chance.

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” – Winston Churchill

This quote to me speaks volumes because it is so true for this area. No one is willing to put in the effort to make this place better. The potential of this area is not measured by the intelligence of its people or the strength of its community. It is and should be measured by the effort that the community puts into making the area a better place. If people of this community put in the effort to make this place better or at least to see the growth it could make this place would become so much better.

One of the problems with this area is how run down it looks. There are so many buildings and houses that are abandoned or not being taken care of and everyone just thinks that that’s the way things will always be. In buildings that are abandoned there is potential for a so many different possibilities. For example, instead of these new restaurants coming in and constructing brand new buildings, some of the old ones could be fixed and remodeled and used.

It’s as if no one in this area sees where this area can grow. It is so frustrating for someone who lives here and sees the potential but there’s nothing being done. That’s why one of my articles for our “Hauteans in Motion” webpage, I want to show the potential that my little home town has. I want people to see the visions I have and see the potential that I see when I look around.

Photo Credit: brisray.com

Local Foods

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When it came to picking one of the topics that I will be writing about for the website my class and I will be developing, I wanted to write about something that I am pretty passionate about. When it comes to writing for me and probably for most other writers, it’s easier to write about things that they are passionate about.

So, one of my ideas to write about is the local restaurants in Terre Haute. Terre Haute has its fair share of restaurants in town, and most people are well aware of all of the chain restaurants. The sad thing is, most people in the area who are new don’t really have any idea of how good or how many local restaurants there are.

I am very passionate about food, I love the idea of cooking, I’ve even debated taking cooking classes to learn more myself. What I love about Terre Haute the most, is the different varieties of local restaurants that are available. There is no way you can’t find a local restaurant that you like in Terre Haute.

I also love the idea of supporting local businesses. Not only does it help out the businesses owners that are in the area but it can also expand someone’s views on Terre Haute. It can also help new people in the area to get acquainted with the area a little better but also get to know people in the area.

“You not only keep your money local, you also foster relationships with other business people in your neighborhood.” – Lorri Mealey

I’m hoping by me doing this article or series, that there will be much more recognition towards the hard work local business owners do to make their community a better place. I want readers to realize that there is so much more to Terre Haute than just chain restaurants. That there are people out there who want to help build the community and want people to try their food and love it too.

Photo credit: Great Deals Magazine

Hidden Gems

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“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings

My professional writing class this semester has really been pushing me out of my comfort zone. I have been doing things I never thought I would be doing and doing them, hopefully, decently well. I’ve never written a blog but here I am writing it now. I’ve never participated in an online community but I just did last night and I feel a little more confident about doing it again if I need to. I even used Twitter for the first time this semester and I didn’t die or burst into flames, there’s a plus. Every new challenge my instructor gives my class, and myself, I become frustrated and anxious, sometimes worried I won’t be able to do the work to his expectations. Each time, though, I am able to finish each project and feel pretty confident in the work that I have done.

Well starting after spring break we’ll be starting a new project and like the others, I’m not really sure how this is going to go for me. This project is making me even more nervous than the others. I have to help maintain a website about the area I live in. The website has to contain articles about the positive things about the Terre Haute. Well I know the area like the back of my hand, and it makes me wonder if we’ll run out of positive things to talk about the area. I know that seems rude because I am from here but it’s the truth.

Even though I am a little fearful of how this project will turn out, I am also excited to see what my fellow classmates will find in Terre Haute that I didn’t see. Since I am from around here, I tend to only see that bad things that are surrounding me. So maybe they’ll see things that I know are there but are being overshadowed.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Online Communities

Technology and connecting people background illustration.This week in class we talked about joining an online group or community. These online communities or groups are where people who have questions can go to find answers from others or where they would like to find people with the same interests. The great thing about these online communities is that they can offer support or advice for those in need. I’ve never really thought about joining an online forum or community, so I’m a little anxious and excited about it.

As I was reading about the Wells online community I learned a few things that I didn’t know about. Like, that people who talk online actually meet in real life, which are called “fleshmeets.” To me that is an amazing thing, these people have connected on such a level and trust each other so much that they are willing to meet up in real life over coffee or lunch. What amazed me even more is that some of these people even went as far as to go to funerals, weddings, and even babysit for other people they have met online. To me, it is amazing the amount of trust someone can have in someone they met online.

In another article I read they say that “The biggest difference between social networks and online communities is that communities form out of groups of people from all different backgrounds and histories.” Which is so true, when you’re online you have no idea who you might be talking to, which I find insane. You could be talking to some old lady from Nebraska, or your neighbor down the street and never even know it.

“There are two things that compel online community members to stick around:

  1. The urge to contribute to the community
  2. The perception of benefitting from the community”

To me, that is a strong statement that people are willing to stay in an online community not only because it benefits them but also because they want to help make the online community better as well.

I’m not the type to seek out help from others online or even on my Facebook. I usually am the type to look up the information online and if I can’t find the answers I’m looking for I give up. I’m also the type that will not seek out support or help from others online. I usually tend to keep to myself or talk to people I actually know and see regularly. So, once again, I am finding myself being pushed out of my comfort zone and into situations I normally wouldn’t put myself in. I’m very interested in seeing how this assignment will go.

Photo Credit: Insightrix Communities

When the K-9 Unit and the Disabled Meet

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In Terre Haute, there are a handful of places where adults with disabilities can go during the day while their parents, guardians, or caregivers are busy. Most people who live in the area have no idea the amount of places that are available or that there even are places like that. I am very aware of these places since my older sister has been going to these day programs ever since she graduated high school. I have recently been volunteering there, so during one of their events I decided to do my live tweeting. The day program she is going to now is called Developmental Services, Inc., or DSI for short.

My mother has also recently been doing her internship there and has been setting up events for the clients to have. These events can be set up by any of the workers or interns; these events can also consist of different things. For example, on Valentine’s Day they had a party, which included cake, punch, food trays, decorations, a DJ showed up, dancing, and some of the clients even dressed up. During my live tweet event, my mother had invited the Terre Haute Police Department’s K-9 Unit to come and talk to the clients. The clients were informed about what the K-9 Unit specializes in, the clients asked questions, and even got the opportunity to pet the dog.

During the event, I found it hard to interact with people and the dog while being on my phone.  The clients are always active and wanting to interact with the workers or guests, so it was difficult for me at some points to interact and tweet at the same time. It was also a little difficult for me to listen to what the officer was saying while trying to tweet about what was going on. I did find it a little fun to be writing about what was going on as it was happening. It was like what Christopher Long said in “The Art of Live-Tweeting, that since it is public, I felt like I had an audience while at this event. It definitely added something new for me, since I’m not used to writing about an event until after it had happened.

I think that tweeting during an event could be beneficial to people who might have wanted to go to the event but was unable to. It would allow those people to feel like they were there or know what happened at the event. Especially during events like sporting events, lectures, business meetings, or even during awards shows. It would keep people up to date on what was happening during that event. I’m not sure events like stand up shows, plays, or musicals would be an ideal event to tweet about since people wouldn’t be able to tweet about everything that was said or done.

During this process, I had a feeling that practically no one would be tweeting about the same event or something like it. Which ended up being true, but I did learn that there are a lot more things out there talking about DSI and different K-9 Units. I also learned while I was tweeting that if there is a spelling error or I wanted to change or add something to my tweet I couldn’t I would have to delete it and start over.

Photo Credit: DSI

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Will the Sound Spread?

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This week in class we talked about how easily it is for things to spread these days on social media. Our reading this week says, “Spreadability refers to the potential – both technical and cultural – for audiences to share content for their own purposes, sometimes with the permission of rights holders, sometimes against their wishes.”

Today we see that a lot on social media sites. For example, one of the major things that is happening on Facebook right now is the talk about this girl who was on an episode of Dr. Phil. There was a few things that she had said while on Dr. Phil’s show that spread like wildfire and eventually went viral. She became media famous, there were songs made from what she said on Facebook, there were a lot of memes made of her, and now it seems she’s making money from being so famous by being involved in a cameras commercial. We, as a society, made her famous. She would have just been another person on Dr. Phil’s show had no one thought what she said was so funny and shared it on Facebook.

Sometimes in our society, it takes a little while for things to spread. I know for me personally, I’ve shared something that I thought others would like and no one seemed to care. But then days, or sometimes weeks later, that same post is starting to spread and then a few more days later that post has gone completely viral. Everyone is asking their friends if they have seen this video or picture or post and is sharing it not only online but in person with others.

One thing that has really stuck with me is how a song can be spread so easily. Back in 1966, the duo, Simon & Garfunkel released a song called “The Sound of Silence.” When it was released it was quite popular but it grew in popularity again about a year ago. Around this time last year, Disturbed, a heavy metal band, made a cover of this song and released it on their album “Immortalized.” It sort of grew in popularity, for me, I fell in love with the song as soon as I heard it. I didn’t notice how many people loved the song until a few months after it had been released that people were posting about how they were listening to it and how much they loved it. Then recently, Disturbed was on the late night show Conan and sang this song. That video on Facebook has been viewed over two million times. It just goes to show that some things may become instantly popular while other things take time to become popular.

Photo credit: Death and Taxes

The Confidence I Lack

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Skillsyouneed.com says, “Confidence comes from the feelings of well-being, acceptance of your body and mind (self-esteem) and belief in your own ability, skills and experiences.” This statement cannot be more true. If someone is only missing one part of this is can cause them problems with their confidence. If that imbalance isn’t corrected or helped it could cause major problems in the future as well. They also say that confidence issues can be caused by a hand full of things, some of them being ones I have personally experienced like being criticized and failing in the past.

For as long, as I can remember I’ve never had much confidence in myself. No matter what I’ve done, who I’ve spoken to, I’ve never felt like I had a reason to be confident in myself. I’ve always thought that I could never be as good as the people around me. Everyone around me seems so sure and confident in what they are doing all the time. Sometimes I watch others around me and wonder how they can be so confident all the time.

I try not to spend time dwelling on the fact that I do have such low confidence and self-esteem but this semester is causing me to have to face it. I try not to do things that will cause people to criticize me or make me seem like a failure, but this semester is causing me to come out of my comfort zone a lot. Not only am I having to put myself in situations where I will be critiqued by my classmates but it also may make me look like a failure if I don’t do my work correctly. It’s also causing me to have to deal with my insecurities. I’m also having to put all my experiences and some work on a LinkedIn profile where anyone across the world can see it.

My advisor told me that I need to be more confident in myself. That there honestly isn’t reason, that she can see, for me not to have some confidence in myself. It’s like I’m finally have this big wakeup call and I’m not really, sure how I feel about it yet. In truth, I hope that through the LinkedIn profile and the weekly critiques from my classmates I’ll be able to gain a little more confidence in myself to help me succeed in the future.

 

Photo Credit: Kenny Santos