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Wait—English Majors Win in the End?

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Start Writing Your Own Future

  • Announce your goal to lose weight and chances are better the pounds will flee.
  • Sign up for NaNoWriMo and chances are better you will actually write that novel (no matter how badly it turns out).

What we tell each other has a way of happening. What we tell each other about our preferred futures has a way of guiding next steps.

  • Write a letter to your collaborative, inventor friend about a business idea and find yourself planning concrete marketing and distribution steps at Spyhouse Coffee.
  • Write a business plan for your startup and suddenly remember your friend who became a venture capitalist. And then remember the friend who bootstrapped her idea.

See the pattern? Each step forward started with communication. You may say,

“No. the idea came first.”


Create in real time as you go.

Create in real time as you go.

But consider: the communicated idea created a spark. And—given the right collaborative conditions—the spark lit a fuse. And the fuse burned, gathering other ideas until the explosive, disruptive future no one had considered.

What if English majors learned entrepreneurship and began to see their talent for orderly, persuasive, deeply-rooted writing as a way to help themselves imagine new futures and chart forward-movement for others? What if they learned to solve real-world problems with story and emotion and analytics? Their solutions would drop-kick the spreadsheet & PowerPoint crowd. What if some English majors created Lake Wobegon while others created the next Google?

What if English majors learned business lessons alongside the standard fare of reading and writing? What if they were expected to serve up the occasional business plan or marketing strategy along with the usual essay, short story and poem?

If that happened, English majors would connect earlier in life that art and work and commerce and fiction and meaning-making all fit together in the same world. And they would begin to write their own future vocation.

By the way: 16 Wildly Successful People Who Majored in English


Caveat #1: I was never an English major.

Caveat #2: I teach English majors. They are smart, innovative people.

Image credit: Kirk Livingston

The Horror: Gangs of English Majors

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Grammar Rumble!


Via DyingSparrows

Written by kirkistan

April 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

Posted in Teaching writing, texts

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Copywriting Tip #3: Words + Images (Think Visually)

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How To Think Visually?

Exhaust your brain with mad thinking not lazy searching

Thinking visually and combining words and images is something of a kaleidoscope experience. Especially for the English major. These folks love words and regularly ask them to leap and dance and bite and romance. English majors have been going steady with words for years. I’m asking these people to see others—but it’s not about two-timing your fascinating Helvetica friends. Just add an image to the mix and step back: did the image just comment on the words—or vice versa? Did the words explain the image? Or did the words supply a subtle subtext that subverted the image? Or vice-versa? Now we’re spinning the kaleidoscope and it is all sorts of (kinda nerdy) fun.

Hint: Don’t Start With The Google Machine.

The temptation is to type your first thought into the search bar and see what images pop. This lazy approach will be at least mildly amusing and completely distracting for the next 73 minutes. There is a more productive way to begin: pen and paper. Any number of artists and writers will tell you that working through potential ideas in the isolation of a blank page helps you focus. The drill is to do it again and again. Page after page. Hour after hour. Until you can’t stand it anymore. From all that terrible, worthless dreck that you would never show your mother let alone the cute human in your Classics class, pick the two or possibly three that don’t make you wretch. That are kinda ok. Google those.

The key is to get your brain working and keep it working long enough that your subconscious takes up the project, freeing you to walk around the lake or pull a prank on your roommate.

You will produce something in this manner.

Try it and tell me if it worked.


Image credit: Maximum stacks/Creative Review via thisisn’thappiness

Below: dreck. Maybe an ad came from it. Maybe not.

Written by kirkistan

March 24, 2012 at 12:07 pm

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