Stephanie Schwartz

Major(s), Concentration(s): I am in the interactive media master's program here. My B.A. is in American Studies and Communication Arts, concentration in media studies.
Year at Elon: Graduate student

1. Other than class assignments, what kinds of things do you write or have you written?
I’ve written news stories, features on local artists, and blurbs for local newspapers; research-oriented talking points, pitches and self-generated blog posts for a stint in PR, and essays and personal thoughts on topical issues in society, often focusing on technology, for my blog, as well as the usual mix of academic work and communications for other projects. I’m a writer for the iMedia blog and I wrote the content for farmcuba.org, our fly-in group’s project.

I hope to continue to write for a variety of mediums, publications and audiences.

2. What piece of writing are you most proud of?
I’ve written some academic papers, especially in undergrad, that I really liked, including one on why Sex and the City resonated so well with women and how Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch were misrepresented by the media as war heroes.  
As a community journalist, I was proud of my coverage of land use and planning issues. The meetings might be long, but I really enjoyed learning about something that affects a lot of people, seeing all the work that government officials put into their projects. Covering election day was also a blast.

I’ve also written a number of blog entries for various places that I’m fond of, both the process and the final version.

3. Where is your favorite place to write?
A place that’s comfortable without distractions.

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 tend to compose a lot in my head. The bad part is that I often don’t end up translating that to either paper or screen, and then it doesn’t get recorded. I do tend to write notes or ideas on paper and then try to put it all together on the computer. I have a really difficult time writing in small spaces, like a comment box, which is why I often write things in Word first. I revise a lot.

5. Who is your favorite writer? Why?
Oh goodness, a question that is impossible to answer. I love so many writers! I have fiction writers I love, journalists I love, essay writers I love. I tend to fall in love with writers easily, especially bloggers. To me, a hallmark of good writing is taking a subject the reader has no interest in and making it fascinating. Good writing, like good anything, makes something very difficult look very easy.

6. What was the best writing experience of your life?
Hmm. I hope my future experiences enable me to grow and be a much stronger, more versatile writer.

Right now, I’m going to have to say my last job, as a journalist for a community newspaper. I did not realize how valuable the experience was until I left. Being fair, concise but not exclusionary, neglectful or inattentive, are very important skills for all writers. It kept me thinking of different ways to say the same thing, different ways to approach a story, learning how to not inject opinion or bias into a news story. Journalists get lambasted for being biased all the time. It’s important to know the difference between a valid critique and a general rant.

7. What would you most like to improve about your writing?I have a tendency to include every bit of information I find, so my writing tends to be long. Goals: to be clear, concise and informative but also witty and engaging; to have a well-reasoned, knowledgeable point of view; to write frequently. To really know my grammar - I can fake it pretty well, but I have hard time explaining why something is wrong even when I know it is. To continually challenge myself – there’s a lot of great writing out there that I wish I could pull off. To have a great turn of phrase.

8. What advice do you have for other Elon writers?
Pay attention to what you read - not just the argument presented, but the structure and the grammar used. Why do you think the writer made this decision? This can go as macro or as micro as you prefer, but all writers make choices, and they are often dependent upon space and audience. Are they trying to make an impassioned plea? To make a point through humor? Advance a plot or provide dramatic effect? Figuring out others' conventions, what's standard, what's passe’ and above all, what's ineffective, will help you in structuring your own writing.

9. What else (if anything) would you like to say?
Being able to competently write a sentence will get you far - on jobs, on dates, in life. 

Examples of writing (blog posts)