Spencer Barnardo

Major(s), Concentration(s): English major, Creative Writing concentration
Minor(s): Business Administration
Year at Elon: Junior

1. Other than class assignments, what kinds of things do you write or have you written?
I write everything from poems and short stories to memos and professional e-mails.  Though many of the courses in my major require that I write short stories and poems for class, I love to write outside of class and am always working on something. 

In the past, I have had jobs that have required me to communicate professionally with other members of my company or with our customers or clients.  I did this through numerous e-mail correspondences, memos, and reports.  While I actually do enjoy these more professional types of writing, my passion is certainly my more creative writing.

2. What piece of writing are you most proud of?
I have numerous pieces that I am quite proud of.  I like to push myself in my writing and go beyond the norm of what people expect.  One story was a Gothic short story I wrote based around the style of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" - it was my first creative piece and really sparked my interest in creative writing.  However, I am undoubtedly a nerd and love to write analytical papers, so another piece that I wrote and was very proud of was an analysis of three songs by one of my favorite singers for an album analysis assignment.

3. Where is your favorite place to write?
I like to write someplace bright and with a lot of natural light if possible.  These days it is on the couch in my apartment.

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 always listen to music, but it has to be music that is lyrically interesting.  I love country, folk, and alternative music.  I think that, as a writer, these genres have more engaging lyrics and deeper stories behind them, which helps with my writing process.

5. Who is your favorite writer? Why?
This is a long and always changing list!  Currently, I am obsessed with Junot Diaz.  I recently finished he novel, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," which is beyond fabulous.  One of the things I love about Diaz is that he blends poetic writing with grit and it creates a fabulous juxtaposition of which I am so jealous.

6. What was the best writing experience of your life?
The best writing experience of my life was probably when one of my professors read one of my stories and told me to stop being poetic because I'm not good at it.  It sounds really harsh (and it was!), but it was a big moment in my writing life because it's when I abandoned all attempts to make my writing "pretty" and instead focused on developing my own voice.

7. What would you most like to improve about your writing?
I want to give more depth to my characters, but in such a way that I show who they are instead of telling it.  I am a very blunt, straightforward person, which transfers to my writing.  Because of this, I tend to explain things more than using the characters' actions to show them.  This is something I've really been working on recently to improve.

8. What advice do you have for other Elon writers?
Know your strengths and weaknesses and play to them.  If you, like me, are hopeless at being poetic, then don't force yourself to be.  Find other ways to push yourself and make your writing stand out, but don't expect that you have to be the kind of writer that you're not.

9. What else (if anything) would you like to say?
I encourage everyone to take a Creative Writing class at Elon.  Not only will you read some amazing work and meet some fabulous writers, but you will also learn so much.  You'll gain confidence in your writing and learn a whole new, different set of skills that you won't get from pretty much any other class at Elon.