Blogging, Editing, and Copywriting
Johns Hopkins University, Center for Leadership Education
Fall 2011

This course will teach students how to develop, write, and manage content for social media. Students will gain significant experience in both freelance and managerial-level contexts. In this highly experiential course, students will create and market their own blog, solicit and do copywriting for clients, and manage the content creation process for a small collaborative project. The course will emphasize best practices for search engine optimization (SEO), intuitive design, social media metrics, freelance project management skills (querying/soliciting for new work, invoicing, and client retention), and content management strategies appropriate for publishing, marketing, and other relevant environments.

Working with Writer’s Block Course
Johns Hopkins University, Center for Leadership Education
Spring 2012

Although most people picture the blocked writer as someone typing the same sentence over and over again, writer’s block can come in many forms:  procrastination, avoidance, writing only to deadline, perfectionism, hatred, and outright blockage. While some people manage to ignore or remain blind to their “block” by sculpting their lives in ways that allow them to avoid writing and writing-related careers entirely, most people with writer’s block get stuck suffering its debilitating effects—lack of respect, lack of promotion, and lack of personal fulfillment—because they cannot escape having to write—whether at school, at work, or in the community. This situation can often be compounded by a gripping sense of guilt or failure that is reinforced by a prevalent social-cultural myth that suggests the blocked writer is simply not trying hard enough and “should just sit down and do it.”

In contradistinction to this typical, flagellating mode, our course will take the highly unorthodox position that it’s completely okay to have writer’s block and that writer’s block is, actually, an important source of intellectual energy that can be tapped to transform, deepen, and enrich the writing process. Using methods based in mindfulness meditation—a non-religious practice of meditation that has informed the stress reduction work of clinician Jon Kabat-Zinn at The University of Massachusetts—we will explore various ways of opening up the writing process and learning how to disarticulate ourselves from the negative modes of thought about writing that we have previously trained ourselves to believe are true.  In doing so, we will learn how to “use” the blockage to our advantage by changing our relationship to our own thoughts about the writing process and moving our writing to an entirely different, more authentic level.

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