Come hang out with the spookiest tutors at McDaniel College while we watch Goosebumps! We’ll have candy and snacks, and costumes are encouraged! The show will start at 6 pm in Hill Hall 108 on Friday, October 26th!
I find that listening to music helps me when writing papers, as it gets me energized and activates my brain, forcing me into motion. However, there is a lot of debate among researchers as to the effectiveness of listening to music while working (USA Today online). It is widely accepted by researchers that music without lyrics is more beneficial than music with lyrics, however, I enjoy listening to a balance of both. Hence, I set out to create a playlist of 5 songs that will inspire you while writing that next essay, poem, or term paper.
To prove the effectiveness of each song in fostering the process of writing, I wrote my descriptions and defense of each while listening to the very tune I was describing. I hope you take a listen and enjoy!
Song 1: Boeboe – Denim
Picked as the first song for this beautiful introduction and immediate pick-me-up, this should awaken you from the creative hibernation that has prevented you from writing your next masterpiece. Understand that lyrics can distract from writing, so this instrumental should provide the perfect backdrop for your initial brainstorming and outpour of creativity. Both chill and energetic, Boeboe inspires your fingers to fly on the keypad, crafting eloquent phrases and ideas that will provide a solid foundation for your work. Just like your favorite pair of jeans, you can always build off this classic “Denim.” This song just inspired that intelligent quip, imagine the wonders it will do to get you writing!
Song 2: Mac Demarco – Salad Days
Mac wastes no time in getting started, and neither will you when listening to his beautiful croon and classic guitar. The album of the same title as this song also provides a great backdrop for writing. As very easy listening, Mac keeps you in the groove and you start to vibe, both with the music and the writing. Lalalalalalalalalala ooooooo… At this point, words drift out of your consciousness onto the page effortlessly. Now, the music begins to push you to higher spheres of creation…
Song 3: Doctor Becket – Higher
An old-school hip-hop song like this maintains the easy vibe of Mac Demarco, while pushing you deeper into the writing process. Doctor Beck will “take you higher than a skyscraper,” as you can’t help but produce material with the ease and precision of his flow. The classic beat and Becket’s lyricism are both relaxing and inspiring. Sooner than you know it, you’ve completed much of the writing you set out to do. The Doctor’s words don’t distract you, and his clinical flow is reflected in your work.
Song 4: J Dilla – The Questions
Keeping the hip-hop vibes going with some quintessential J Dilla is a must. Widely considered one of the greatest producers of all time, this instrumental probably influenced great works such as the Sistine Chapel and Mona Lisa in another life. It is such a shame that J Dilla passed at the young age of 32, but his music continues to inspire to this day. It isn’t hard to feel the passion and creativity of Dilla through the beat. The instrumental also provides a break from the lyrics of the last two songs, clearing the mind as you begin to refine your writing and hone your creation. Ideas and thoughts are clear in your mind, as you set out to perfect the details of your creation.
Song 5: Nick Drake – One of These Things First
Now this whole writing deal is effortless fun. Nick Drake’s voice sounds off in your head, but to be honest, the words you have molded hold more value than what he sings of, and your mind understands this. You start to play with your writing, sprucing it up with fanciful adjectives and stylistic sentence structures. The play of the piano and guitar provide an upbeat backdrop for the finalization of your creation. The pleasure brought by a perfect product is unmatched. You sit back in awe of the incredible capacity for writing that you demonstrated, inspired by the music and voice of such diverse artists.
YouTube Playlist Link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFrZS-KC7mfBF0KwqBzvZFp2DTn4RpeK7
–Camden, peer tutor
Castillo Y Tickell, Sofia. “Should You Listen to Music While You Study?” USA Today College. USA Today, 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2015.
Disclaimer: Many people have contempt for pop culture, claiming it is nothing but vapid and shallow nonsense. But pop culture is human culture, our culture, plain and simple – and what’s considered vapid in one era may be regarded as high art in the next. And even if pop culture truly is nothing but shallow, there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun.
Before analyzing Kanye West’s VMA speech, let’s have a quick and dirty rundown of rhetoric. Rhetoric is the study of how we use and how we are affected by language. There are three main aspects of rhetoric: logos, pathos, and ethos. Logos is an appeal to logic: the facts and rationale of an argument. Pathos is an appeal to emotion: the words we say that make others laugh, or cry, or tremble in terror, etc. Ethos is an appeal to ethics: what establishes our credibility and our character.
Speeches are a useful text to analyze rhetorically, so let’s turn our attention to Kanye West. He begins with addressing and thanking Taylor Swift, with whom he had a memorable moment at the 2009 VMAs He says, “You know I think about [the 2009 VMA moment] when I’m in the grocery store with my daughter and I have a really great conversation about fresh juice… and at the end they say, ’Oh, you’re not that bad after all!’” West evokes pathos, making the audience feel sad about how people he meets in the grocery store think West is horrible for a six-year-old incident. Mentioning his daughter also reminds us that he is a father, which further increases our empathy for him. He continues, “And like I think about it sometimes. … It crosses my mind a little bit like when I go to a baseball game and 60,000 people boo me.” His pathos makes us imagine what it must be like to have thousands upon thousands of people – over 30 McDaniels worth of people, to put it in perspective – boo him for, again, something that happened the better part of a decade ago.
Kanye goes on to ponder what would happen if he got the chance to do it all over again. “[W]hat would I have done? […] Would I have drank half a bottle of Hennessy and gave the rest of it to the audience? Y’all know y’all drank that bottle too! If I had a daughter at that time, would I have went on stage and grabbed the mic from someone else’s?” He continues to utilize pathos by reminding us that we, too, might have gotten drunk and thus made similar mistakes. He refers again to his fatherhood and makes us consider how it has changed him.
He further reflects on the commercial aftermath of the incident, saying, “Look at that. You know how many times MTV ran that footage again? ’Cause it got them more ratings? You know how many times they announced Taylor was going to give me the award ’cause it got them more ratings?” Kanye uses logos, making us think about the increased ratings – and profits – MTV gained from the 2009 debacle – at the expense of Kanye.
West does not use much ethos in his speech – his authority as a popular musician and controversial public figure are already well established. He does evoke it somewhat, however, toward the end of his speech, when he refers to himself as a “fellow artist” to all of the attendees to further establish his credibility.
Kanye ends his speech with more pathos, “It’s about ideas, bro. New ideas. People with ideas. People who believe in truth.” His words make us feel confident and hopeful for the future – especially a future that includes a President West.
–Summer, peer tutor
There is a special magic that comes along with documenting your everyday musings and experiences. However, journals are often stereotyped as adorable little notebooks filled with perfectly organized, dated, written entries that require a great deal of time and an even more immense sense of personal commitment to maintain. “Journals” are supposedly ravenous entities screaming, “feed me!” every time a new memory or observation encodes itself into your brain.
In some environments, keeping a consistent, daily record of your everyday thoughts and experiences may be extremely useful and worth your while, such in a study abroad or travel-based setting. But how can journaling ever be compatible with the stresses and demands of everyday campus life, you inquire?
In fact, I’ve often found that journaling can help you untangle that twisted knot of thoughts contributing to the writer’s block that’s impeding your current paper. But perhaps you don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to commit to a so-called “traditional” journal during college. After all, that 20-page research paper should probably claim precedence over freelance scribbles.
This may require broadening your horizons and dismantling that stereotype of the cute-little-notebook-companion. Perhaps you’re interested in engaging in creative self-expression during those scarce free moments, but don’t have the time to actually develop it into a dedicated hobby. What follows are a few quick tips and ideas to help inspire you to dabble in occasional, stress-free, fun self-reflection! :
1.) Your journal is there when you need it.
Oftentimes, it can be extremely difficult to find a spontaneous, creative moment. To reiterate, journaling does not have to require a huge commitment, especially as it pertains to college life.
2.) Abandon your rampant perfectionistic tendencies.
Focus on release. Think of grammar as a afterthought if you find yourself struggling with perfectionism. Refraining oneself from adhering to a specific format, structure, or style can be an incredibly liberating experience.
This goes back to defying the stereotype of the “traditional” journal. There are numerous ways to free your creative inhibitions, some of which don’t even have to be verbal. Treat your journal like a scrapbook if you feel this really whets your creative juices. I recently received a “junk journal” from Etsy and have been literally stuffing it with various ticket stubs, greeting cards, and other paper scraps to help me preserve particular memories.
Dream journals, whether handwritten or online, are also a fun, less time-consuming alternative to traditional journaling.
I’d also recommend these books by Keri Smith as extremely fun creativity starters:
Altogether, journals can be a fun and fantastic medium to express yourself in a multitude of ways. Don’t think of journaling as just another thing to heap on top of your already overstuffed to-do-list, but rather as a spontaneous opportunity to help you gain inspiration or insight whenever a spare moment might arise.
~Sarah F, peer tutor
With all of the papers, exams, and other time-sucking assignments that inevitably accompany the end of the semester, it may be difficult to get excited about recreational reading. (In case you’ve forgotten, with your brain all muddled up with lit papers and math exams, recreational reading is reading you do for fun in this magical thing called free time.)
Here’s the thing: So much free time is coming! Believe it or not, we have less than a month left in the semester. When winter break hits, you’ll have time to do fun things, like reading! (Yes, reading is fun.)
So why not prepare? Luckily for you, a momentous event is rapidly approaching- the first ever McDaniel Writing Center Book Swap!
During the week after Thanksgiving Break, members of the McDaniel College community can participate in the “take a book, leave a book” system. We already have over 150 books!
How did we get so many already? Well, this past weekend, three peer tutors (including myself) went with the Professor A and his wife, Mrs. Professor A, to the Book Thing. It’s a magical place full of free books, with no strings attached other than they are not for resale. Pretty cool, eh?
Don’t have a book to swap, but want to snag something to read over break? Never fear! You have options! Receive a free book by:
1) Reigstering for our online scheduler while in the office,
2) Following or liking the Writing Center if you don’t already, Facebooking or Tweeting a photo of yourself with your book, and then tagging the Writing Center in the post.
It’s so simple!
What if I have the opposite problem, you may ask? If you have books that you want to get rid of, and don’t want to acquire more, we also have options for you. Well, there’s really just one option, and that is: We want all of the books!
Yes, including yours. Even the ones the school bookstore rejected.
Now that we all understand what is going on with this book swap thing, there’s only one thing left to do- Join the Facebook event and tell your friends about it!
Hanna, peer tutor