Posts Tagged ‘fear of failure

09
Jun
12

Encouraging collaboration & effective brainstorming

Photo credit: Flickr user KatieTT

Having written about brainstorming and group work in three of the more recent posts here, you can imagine I was alarmed to see the blurb, “Brainstorming Doesn’t Really Work,” promoting Jonah Lehrer’s article Group Think: The Brainstorming Myth. After reading the article, I see there’s a lot to learn in thinking through setting up effective collaborations.

The blurb in question focuses on a very specific type of brainstorming that has been proven empirically to provide less creative ideas. When groups are told to throw out ideas without criticism, they tend to come up with a lot of ideas, but those ideas are more predictable, less varied, and ultimately less successful than groups that are free to criticize each other’s ideas. The criticism leads to a reconsideration of ideas, which ultimately makes them better.

Lehrer’s asssertion that this type brainstorming doesn’t work does not mean that groups cannot be creative. In fact, he introduces several studies that show that they can be more creative than individuals under the right conditions. The most compelling parts of the article are those that consider what those right conditions look like. Continue reading ‘Encouraging collaboration & effective brainstorming’

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13
Mar
12

The courage to screw it up: Made by Hand book review

I can’t say that I’ve ever envisioned myself raising chickens, keeping bees, or building my own guitars, but then neither had Mark Frauenfelder. Then he did it, and wrote a book about it. Frauenfelder is the author of Made by Hand: My Ad

Image source: boingboing.net

ventures in the World of Do-It-Yourself, which floats somewhere between the genres of memoir and how-to. Frauenfelder, one of the co-founders of the blog Boing Boing, recounts how he came to DIY world as part of his job as the editor-in-chief of Make magazine. The book divides into nine chapters plus an introduction and conclusion. Each chapter recounts a new project Frauenfelder takes on from the beginning stages up through the finished product (or nearly finished project anyways; one of the book’s lessons is that there is always some tinkering and learning that can be done.)

Those lessons partly account for why Made by Hand shows up here on a blog about writing. Writing itself is as much of a DIY process as there is out there. Yes, we are made to believe that we “learn” to write in school, but really we just learn the structures of writing and some specific strategies for putting them into practice. The real work of learning to write is done by the individual him/herself, and it takes years to really develop the craft. Even then, the learning process never stops. With that in mind, there is plenty that Frauenfelder has to offer that can be used by writers, beginning and experts.  Continue reading ‘The courage to screw it up: Made by Hand book review’

27
Jan
12

Overcoming the stress and anxiety of the writing process

January is a popular time for resolving to change their lives. Many of those resolutions will fail. That’s partly because most people make New Year’s resolutions in the same way. They promise themselves to do something they’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t; they make their resolution without treating whatever caused them to procrastinate previously; they forget their resolution before the calendar turns to February.

A lot of writers go through this same cycle. Blind optimism leads to setting unreasonable goals, which leads to disappointment and stress, which leads to procrastination, feelings of failure, disappointment, and a feeling that you should really get around to writing that paper, novel, letter, etc. Before long the to do list is pitched and the project gets tabled only to be taken up again whenever you have the most optimism to face it; say, maybe, next December 31.

The way out of that cycle starts at discovering why you’ve not been writing. Continue reading ‘Overcoming the stress and anxiety of the writing process’




Good Writer, Bad Writer

Good writer, bad writer reflects the philosophy behind the first writing lesson I attempt to teach students. Too many of them come into college believing that their writing abilities are set in stone. The bad writers continue to struggle, and the good writers don't take enough risks in their writing, figuring that any misstep will throw them back into the "bad writer" category.

Good writer, bad writer is my attempt to break the power of that dichotomy. On here, I share the lessons and attitudes that I teach, but I also talk about the attitudes I have towards my own writing since many of those have informed my own teaching. Thanks for visiting.


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