Kelsey O'Connell

Major(s), Concentration(s): English, Professional Writing & Rhetoric
Minor(s): Multimedia Authoring, Creative Writing
Year at Elon: Junior

1. Other than class assignments, what kinds of things do you write or have you written?
I write as a creative outlet: short stories, poetry, essays, blog entries.

I write for my Lumen Scholar project on the community discussion and rhetorical strategies surrounding the development of the DSM-5: grant proposals, project proposals, progress reports, presentation applications, articles, interview questions.

I wrote for my Spring 2012 internship in London at shots Magazine (shots.net), the leading authority on creativity in advertising: interviews, over 70 online articles, two articles for the magazine, professional email communications.

I write as a team captain on the Elon Mock Trial Team: opening statements, direct and cross examinations, closing arguments, objection arguments.

I write as the Editorial Assistant of the faculty publication Perspectives on Undergraduate Research and Mentoring: professional email communication, editing notes, reviews.

2. What piece of writing are you most proud of?
Overall, I'm most proud of my Lumen project proposal. I think it's the strongest piece of writing I've ever done. It also led to one of the biggest accomplishments of my academic career, so perhaps I'm biased.

However, depending on the day, I might say I'm most proud of my poetry. I write poetry about my life and personal issues, which makes it very important to me. It serves as a creative outlet and helps me express my feelings.

3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I love to write lying down, so any place that facilitates my lounging is good for me. Couches are great. Beds become problematic, especially at school, because I’m likely to fall asleep. Large chairs are good in a pinch. I’ve mastered the art of lying on my side, typing on my laptop, and balancing on a couch, all without cramping up. It’s a skill. As of right now, my favorite couch is the one in my flat’s common room. I’m always there to work on homework or write for fun.

4. Do you have any interesting quirks and/or routines you follow when writing or when you are preparing to write? What are they?
I have a lot of trouble writing while I’m hungry, so my routine always starts with a snack. Next, I have to arrange the writing area with everything I need. I can’t start writing if I’m missing something like my computer charger or a glass of water. I prepare my writing area like a bomb shelter, leave nothing to chance.

Once I start writing, I like to type with my eyes closed, which I’m told is weird. I’m a touch-typist and I don’t need to look at the keyboard at all to type. I’ve found that, when I type with my eyes closed, it makes me more productive. I’m less distracted by things around me and I’m able to arrange my thoughts more easily. However, I’ve also found that it really freaks people out when I do it. There are positives and negatives.

5. Who is your favorite writer? Why?
My favorite writers are Franz Kafka and Sylvia Plath. I love Kafka because his book The Trial is one of my favorites. His writing just makes me want to craft stories as gut-wrenching as his. Sylvia Plath is one of my favorites because her book The Bell Jar delves into mental health issues in a beautiful, perfect way.

6. What was the best writing experience of your life?
I loved my experience working at shots Magazine in London. I had an internship with shots during my Spring 2012 study abroad with the Elon London Centre. I worked directly with the Editor-in-Chief and staff writers on both the website and magazine. I was able to edit stories, conduct interviews, transcribe interviews, write over 70 stories for the website, and publish two stories in the magazine.

This was a great writing experience because I had to learn to adapt my writing to a new country, new audience, and new style. The transition went by a lot faster than I thought it would and I think that I was so successful because my co-workers were amazing. I got great feedback and lots of collaboration, a true mentoring experience.

7. What would you most like to improve about your writing?
I’ve recently become very aware of my excessive use of commas. I’m a fan of commas, especially the Oxford comma, and sometimes I can take it too far.

In general, I think I’m always growing and improving my writing, so I’d like to continue learning as I go. Every time I take a new course at Elon or read a new book or edit a new article, I learn more about myself and the way I write.

8. What advice do you have for other Elon writers?
Writing leads to success in so many ways. My best advice is to take writing seriously. Don't go through life changing the margins to fit the required length.