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Writing Poetry is About Being Aware of When to Write

And Less About Knowing How to Write Something That Rhymes

I started regularly writing poems in 2009 after two friends asked me to help them write song lyrics. My friends Zack, Marcus and I were sitting around a campfire late one night in the mountains. Zach was holding a guitar and Marcus was playing a banjo. Zack said “Nate, you were an English major. Do you think you teach us how to write song . . .

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May 18, 2017

Advice from A Popular Writer’s Handbook

Highlights from Stunk and White’s “Elements of Style”

Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style” is perhaps the most commonly read handbook for anyone looking to improve as a writer. The first edition of “Elements of Style” was published in 1959 and the book has been read since then to help guide young writers and remind experienced writers of the basics. While the book does hit on some common . . .

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July 17, 2016

Three Methods for Brainstorming: Finding Creative Ideas to Write About

Finding a Place to Think, "Word Vomit" and Collaborative Brainstorming

If you are attempting to write something meaningful and cohesive you must have some method for accomplishing your writing goal. When we decide to write, we must have methods for A) getting an idea to write about or B) developing the idea we've chosen so that it is clear.

How do you write well in a loud, noisy, distracted world? Here are . . .

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May 19, 2016

Taylor Mali's Reasons Why It Has Become Uncool to Sound like you Know What You are Talking About

The Consequences of Repetitively using "Like" and "Ya Know What I'm Saying"

"It has somehow become uncool to sound like you know what you are talking about" is the opening line to a short Youtube video (with nearly 2 million hits). I've shown this Taylor Mali speech to over 20 sections of English composition over the last 3 years. That is, I show it to all my composition classes. This semester I showed . . .

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December 31, 2015

What We can Learn about Storytelling from 90's sit-com "Full House"

Transitioning From a "Story-Consumer" to a "Story Teller"

Our culture is desperate for storytellers. On a weekly basis we watch movies, television and any number of streaming media because we are in search of a story. I watch at least 2 movies a week. If I let myself, I could make a habit of watching something every night. However, I do not believe we were only created to listen or watch other . . .

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October 02, 2015

Saving Your Superlatives: Two Tips on Staying Grounded in Communication

On the use of superlatives

As an English teacher, I obsessively think about ways I can get my students to be accurate in their language. You can only write "be more specific" so many times across the top of a student's paper. To be more specific about what I mean by "be more specific" is to limit your superlatives. By limiting how much you use . . .

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Posted in: writing tips

June 23, 2015

Accuracy in Language Motivates More Than Grammar

Does "Correct Grammar" Motivate Students in English Class?

Many students who come into my English 111 believe that the primary purpose of my class is for me to change them into "grammatically correct" writers and hammer into them the ability to "speak properly." In terms of motivation, an end goal of correct grammar is not enough to make students want to change their writing or . . .

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June 16, 2015

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