Creating undergraduate research posters that work

by Samantha Pattridge, Communications Department and Jenn MacDonald, UFV Research Office

UFV Student Research Day in 2015
UFV Student Research Day in 2015: More talking than stand alone poster viewing

Communicating your research in progress is crucial for research success. A visually appealing and instructive poster will engage your viewers and generate discussion around your research. It’s essential to understand the poster viewing situation but it’s also important to understand the importance of visual elements.

Visual Presentations 101

Clegg GEOG 2013
An eye catching title and images that tell a story can overcome problems with large blocks of text

Think about your poster as a visual aid. Consider how you can tell your research story to others using images and graphics, appealing colours, engaging fonts and headlines. Visual elements are the first things your viewers will see. Your title and images should draw the viewer to your poster. Aim for a professional format, without overwhelming readers with blocks of text — so cut, cut cut!

As North American consumers, our sense of good design is “trained” by the advertisements we view every day. Right now, the trend is towards simplicity, with lots of white space (think Apple campaigns). Your poster can “cash in” on this often subconscious viewer preference. Provide lots of space around and between your text and images.

Make use of white space and contrast dark fonts with a light background
Make use of white space and contrast dark fonts with a light background

Some other points to consider are to:

  • create a clear contrast between fonts and the background
  • use black or dark coloured fonts on a light-coloured background
  • stick to two or three fonts and use a couple of different sizes
  • use bold to differentiate headings

Sans-serif fonts work better than Serif fonts for posters. Your main heading should be at least 130 point font and your smallest text around 36 point font. No one wants to squint to read.

Use alignment and consistency to your advantage. Strong lines draw the viewer’s eye to the information you want to highlight. Ensure nothing looks odd or out of place. Print out a small draft of your poster and turn it upside down and sideways. Check that the elements still look balanced.

If you depart from the usual reading pattern, use colour or other guides so that viewers know where to go
If you depart from the usual reading pattern, use colour or other guides so that your viewers know where to go

Your viewer will be expecting your poster to be arranged in a typical pattern to be read from top to bottom, left to right, like in a newspaper article. If you depart from that pattern, you can create a visually compelling poster, but you must take care to ensure it’s very clear to the viewer how to read the poster.

Understand the Competition: Know Your Discipline

Viewers and poster judges will expect to find information on your poster that demonstrates your membership to your discipline.

Know your discipline: Biology poster winner from 2015 UFV Student Research Day
Know your discipline: Biology poster winner from 2015 UFV Student Research Day

Biology posters will differ in content and in design from history, sociology or visual arts posters. What sorts of evidence is acceptable? Is the interpretation of the findings a main concern? Each discipline has limits on what information can be visually translated onto a poster. If your research does not easily convert to visual form you might want to bring along a physical object that help you tell your research story.

Each discipline has its own “language”. While you want to appeal to your specific field, you also want to appeal to more general academic viewers. Tailor your information so it is interesting and accessible, but also include details that may be essential for your discipline. Do viewers need a map to orient then? Are you including specialist terms that need to be explained?

VIS ARTS Mot
Know your discipline: Visual Arts poster winner from 2015 UFV Student Research Day

During a poster session, viewers will spend more time talking to presenters than reading posters. Consider how you will use your poster to talk to viewers. Engage viewers initially with one sentence that captures your research question, your approach to making knowledge or key points from your findings. Consider what viewers will care about when they first encounter your work. Practice interacting with your poster and be passionate about what you’ve produced.

 

O’Reilly? O’MAZING!

by Kim Norman, UFV Communications Department

Terry O'Reilly sharing "The Power of Storytelling" at UFV March 1
Terry O’Reilly sharing “The Power of Storytelling” at UFV

Saying that CBC presenter Terry O’Reilly’s recent visit to UFV was a success IS telling a tale out of school. And, it’s a tale worth telling.

UFV students, staff, faculty and community members from the lower mainland came together on Tuesday, March 1 in the Great Hall of UFV’s new Student Union Building (the SUB) to hear Terry showcase some of his best stories and storytelling advice.

Early in the day, Terry treated a very full house of students and their instructors to a private presentation on “Elevator Pitches”. He thoroughly entertained with accounts of his past work experiences, marketing slogan successes, and colourful career highlights.

Edu-tainment, courtesy of Terry O’Reilly
Edu-tainment, courtesy of Terry O’Reilly

He shared the highs and lows of his efforts to pitch his “No More Fiddling on the Roof” campaign, and he encouraged students to persist in finding meaningful careers with a story about once sending out 60 resumes that returned 61 rejection letters.

Terry responded to UFV students’ questions with great insights on the use of silence in presentations (he warned that “silence smells like fear”), the success of the Wheaties diamond campaign, and the role of elevator pitches in job interviews.

Terry also emphasized the importance of “learning by doing” when public speaking. He expressed disappointment that presentation skills are not taught more often in advertising-related courses. Terry said students would benefit greatly from taking public speaking courses, and he complimented UFV for offering them.

UFV students can take CMNS 235, a popular public speaking class, as a separate course or as part of a Professional Communications Essentials Certificate or a Communications Minor.

An engaged audience of over 400 sharing the power of stories
An engaged audience of over 400 sharing the power of stories

Terry returned to the stage in the afternoon to present “The Power of Storytelling”. This talk was part of the UFV President’s Leadership Lecture Series.

He engaged and inspired the 400+ people in attendance with captivating stories of hit marketing campaigns and the principles behind them. Those lucky enough to get a seat for the sold-out event probably found themselves sharing Terry’s words later in the week – and are probably still sharing them.

What Spock is to Kirk, reason is to feeling: stories must be understood and felt if they are to live long and prosper.
What Spock is to Kirk, reason is to feeling: stories must be understood and felt if they are to live long and prosper

Some of his memorable advice included:

“Great things are not written they are rewritten.”
“Stories resound for years or penetrate in seconds.”
“Words contain the seeds of change.”
“Customer service IS marketing.”
“The best marketers are the best listeners.”
“Storytelling makes people care.”
“‘It’s good enough’ is the enemy of everything.”
“Make people feel your message, not just understand it.”

Readers who didn’t get to #TerryintheValley or those who want to recapture the event can go to UFV’s Storify. For more Terry O’Reilly, listen to his much-acclaimed Under the Influence broadcasts on CBC radio.

As for a repeat visit from Terry one day, so he (and we) can tell more of his tales out of our school?

O’yes, please.

www.terryoreilly.ca
@terryoinfluence
@UFVCMNS

****************************************

Kim Norman is an Assistant Professor in the Communications Department at the University of the Fraser Valley. She has particular interests in popularization and the links between writing, rhetoric, and culture. Kim’s work in the non-profit sector, magazine industry, and education gives her almost 20 years of workplace and academic writing experience to draw on in her teaching of writing and research practices. Kim’s a firm believer that a commitment to education doesn’t just open doors—it reveals new ones.

Communicating research in two minutes

Samantha Pattridge and Michelle Riedlinger took up the challenge of speaking for only two minutes at UFV’s Faculty MicroLecture Series this week. They grabbed the stage at UFV’s Roadrunner Cafe and shared some of their findings and the implications of their research. Here are the highlights:

Teaching Communications when you have flipped

24636038443_09de267c7f_zIn 2012-13, Linda Pardy and Samantha surveyed four flipped sections of CMNS 251: Professional Report Writing, and one section of CMNS 420: Virtual Team Communication. Their goal was to determine the difference between expected and actual student and instructor workload in a flipped course. They used a strict definition of “flipped”, meaning that students met in class half of the usual three-hour block. They reserved class time for workshops, activities, group work, and peer editing. Any lectures or “content coverage” were handled online.

Linda and Samantha surveyed students three times during the term: near the beginning to establish their expectations, at the middle, and at the end. Linda and Samantha also kept reflective journals throughout the process.

24636031353_9bbdeae5fb_zSamantha reported on three significant findings:

  1. 70% of the students surveyed expected to spend between one and two hours online per week. But by the end of the course, only 56% reported spending that much time. More students spent three to four hours per week or more than expected.
  2. As instructors, Linda and Samantha had their own mindsets about teaching that they had to flip. Even if an instructor is accustomed to using active learning strategies in a face-to-face class, the flipped format has new and different demands on how to approach the material with the students. It requires a significant investment of time.
  3. Only 67% of students overall would recommend a flipped course. The reasons for not recommending it were often related to technology preparedness, but were also related to the ability to be self-directed online. Interestingly, 100% of the fourth-year students would recommend the flipped format. Samantha indicated that instructors must carefully consider the technology skills and academic maturity of students before flipping a course.

Linda and Samantha are presenting their findings at Congress in Calgary in May-June 2016. They also have plans to follow up with journal articles on various aspects of this survey.

Making sense of fishy science

24636049313_c643f716a3_zIn 2010, just after Michelle arrived in Canada, the BC government commissioned an inquiry into the dramatic decline of Sockeye salmon in the Fraser River. Michelle said that the transcripts of the testimonies from commission inquiry were a fantastic resource for her because so many different stakeholder groups testified at the commission. As a science communicator, she’s interested in better understanding how the differing perspectives of people shape the ways in which they understand and communicate evidence and risk.

Michelle’s study concerned the uptake of new ideas by groups of people with differing practices and values. She looked at the commission testimonies from a point of view of framing (what’s highlighted inside the frame and what’s obscured or outside the frame from the testimonies).

Michelle was particularly interested in the uptake of findings related to salmon anaemia virus genetics, and evidence of this virus in BC. She found that researchers committed to furthering scientific knowledge in general made sense of the findings about salmon anemia virus in terms of the Precautionary Principle and the need to take any evidence of the virus seriously. The researchers also called for more public communication about the implications of the findings. In contrast, researchers stating a commitment to management support for salmon industries spoke about the same research findings in terms of their concerns about “speculative science”. They also saw a need to “manage” public perceptions. Same findings. Different uptake.

24895169659_9d23e75e24_zMichelle also found that government research managers attributed a lack of useful ecosystems science happening in the region to the complexity of the science and a lack of adequate resourcing for activities. This research is indeed complex and costly. In contrast, Michelle found that conservation representatives resisted these framings and instead focussed on a lack of Indigenous community collaboration in research and the “politicisation” of science—that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans only fund politically-acceptable scientific research.

The Canadian government is promoting the ‘responsible conduct of research’ at the time. In light of this, Michelle believes that research organisations need to consider critical approaches to the communication and the use of research findings more than ever. She is speaking about this research at the 14th Public Communication of Science and Technology Conference in Istanbul, Turkey in April 2016.

Samantha and Michelle found the Microlectures to be a great opportunity to share their research findings with others at UFV. They encourage all UFV students to participate in UFV’s Student Research Day on Thursday, April 7, 2016. Students have three minutes to present their research at this event.

Samantha and Michelle are running a poster planning workshop for students on Friday March 11 from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm in the Kipp Research Lab (B164). Email kelly.tracey@ufv.ca for more details.

 

Welcoming students at Abby’s U-Join event

CMNS Department members, Sam Schechter, Kim Norman and Michelle Riedlinger
CMNS Department members, Sam Schechter, Kim Norman and Michelle Riedlinger supervise the scrabble competition.

Communications Department members welcomed new and returning UFV students at the Student Union Society’s Clubs and Services Fair.

The Great Hall event on Tuesday, 12 January offered students a chance to find out about different associations and opportunities at UFV, and enjoy plenty of snacks, interactive activities, and giveaways.

 

UFV Political Science student, Travis Mackenzie draws the scrabble prizes with Michelle Riedlinger
UFV Political Science student, Travis Mackenzie draws the scrabble prize winners with Michelle Riedlinger.

 

Winners of the CMNS scrabble prize draw:

First prize. UFV Bookshop voucher ($25): Ryan Chowdbry

Second prize. Ticket to Terry O’Reilly: The Power of Storytelling event on Tuesday, March 1, 4:00-6:00pm in the Great Hall: Eugenia Luong

 

 

 

********************************************************************

Michelle Riedlinger (PhD, University of Queensland, 2005)  is an Assistant Professor in the Communications Department at the University of the Fraser Valley. She specializes in science and environmental communication and brings her communication consultancy experience to various subjects including academic writing, advocacy, grant writing and crisis communication.

It’s the writers life for me: Pitching stories to magazines with Ronda Payne

Ronda Payne aka Girl With a Pen

At the February meeting of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (Fraser Valley chapter) local freelance writer, Ronda Payne shared her top tips for pitching to magazines. Here are the top ten:

  1. Start with what appeals. Ronda says that she’s motivated to tell a good story. She keeps a copy of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on her desk to remind her to stay inspired to create places where other people want to go.She suggests starting with stories that you like to write and then making a list of places where it makes sense to publish those stories. She recommends reading The Magazines Associations of BC and the Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers. What do you know a lot about? If you can think of a topic, then there will a magazine for it. For example, Canadian Thoroughbred, Food and Wine Trails, and The Southern Review.
  2. Look for opportunities everywhere. Tell your family and friends that you are writing for a living, says Ronda. She sees every meeting as an opportunity for work. She told a story about how she has been joyfully writing for Country Life in BC for the last five years because of a chance encounter at a Chamber of Commerce event. Then, at a Pacific Agriculture Show event, she met the publishers of Modern Agriculture and started writing for them. Connect with other writers – get to know them. They might have work opportunities that suit your skills better than their own.
  3. Do your research. Ronda advises writers to check online to see what the magazine is already publishing. What can you add? Look editors up online. Check out the Editor’s blog for likes and dislikes. Look at back issues for the style. Show that you care. Writers that are consistently employed are thoughtful—and read the guidelines.
  4. Respect deadlines. Magazines can be deadline driven so Ronda recommends working out what is feasible for you. Get your interviews done early so you aren’t relying on other people to meet your deadlines.
  5. Do it all. Magazines writers need to be able to talk to people to bring out a story, put together random facts in an interesting way, and take good pictures. Ronda emphasizes asking questions that help find a good story. The story may not be the one that someone wants to tell. But tell the truth, she says. Get to the truth. Why does this matter? Why should people care?
  6. Ready, Set, Pitch! Ronda recommends going to the magazine’s website and following the guidelines. And then following the guidelines. And then following the guidelines. She says that writers might need to pitch a Christmas story in Jan/Feb so it’s important to learn the business. Be creative and honest. She also recommends building relationships so that pitching isn’t such hard work. Formal pitches get you in the door, she says, but if you are still making formal pitches in six months it might be time to move on.
  7. Draw the line on what you will and won’t do. Ronda was passionate about writing for Modern Dog but they wanted her to do it for free. She tried to negotiate but they weren’t interested. Will you write for a byline? How much do you need to survive as a professional writer? Most magazines don’t pitch a rate but $25c/word is average (or $200 for 500 words).
  8. Grow a thick skin and let it go. There will always be someone who doesn’t like what you’ve written, Ronda says. Their feedback will help you improve as a writer, regardless. Be gracious when you are asked to make changes. If the editor says, “I like it better that way” then recognize that it’s theirs to tweak.Consider, “What hill do you need to die on?” Do your best, then drink wine. Do your job, not the editors. Submit it and then don’t sweat it. Don’t read it again when it comes out.
  9. Get the most out of it. Ronda says all freelance copywriters need to know about Access Copyright. They pay writers for things that they have written where they hold the rights. It’s worth looking up, she says.
  10. Watch for pitfalls but love your job. It’s a flaky business, Ronda says. Sometimes stories don’t run and there’s no kill fee. It’s tiring and deadline driven. Deadlines overlap and pay can be slow. Contracts and rights can be hard to negotiate. It’ll take you away from other, longer projects like a book.But writing for magazines is incredibly rewarding. Creating feelings in readers and inspiring action. Magazine writers help change the world in small ways. It isn’t for everyone but…

“… it’s the writer’s life for me,” sings Ronda.

 

What it takes to be a freelance writer: Promotion tips with Heidi Turner

Heidi Turner
Heidi Turner
Professional Writer, Heidi Turner

At a recent meeting of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC Fraser Valley chapter) local freelance writer, Heidi Turner shared her top tips on business promotion for professional writers. Here are her top ten:

  1. Create an optimised website. Heidi recommends including all search terms that you think your clients will use in the Search Engine Optimisation area. This will make sure that you target your writing market. A website is also a convenient spot to keep your portfolio, samples and client testimonials.
  2. Write a Business Plan. It may sound painful but Heidi says that this will show you areas where you need to improve and give you an idea of what you can realistically achieve as a freelancer. For example, what to charge for hourly rates. Heidi recommends charging GST so that your clients know that you intend to make at least $30 000 from your professional writing.
  3. Update your CV at least every six months. Heidi is happy when she doesn’t have to drop everything to write a CV for an urgent job proposal.
  4. Develop an elevator pitch. Heidi says that this will help you anywhere where you might meet clients. You need to be able to briefly say: What you do. Who you do it for. How you do it.
  5. Make a decision for how you use social media and stick to it. If you use social media for business then focus it for business. If you use it for personal communication, keep it for that. Heidi says that mixing the two could get you into trouble – or just not help your business.
  6. Write a blog that targets your client base. Heidi says that putting your writing talents towards other people’s platforms rarely works. For example, people will remember an article from the Huffington Post but they won’t remember who wrote it. She recommends writing for yourself. It will take longer to establish your name but it will be your name that readers remember.
  7. Cultivate repeat clients. Heidi loves repeat clients. They know what she can do and they appreciate her talents. She suggests finding out how you can add value to what you are already doing for clients. But she also recommends maintaining your professional boundaries and what you are willing to do for clients
  8. Take courses in writing. Heidi recommends taking writing courses. They are a great way to meet knew clients and keep your skills up to date.
  9. Run your own courses on writing. Heidi says that running your own writing courses in your area of expertise will help you gain exposure – and provide a place to sell your own books if you have them.
  10. Get involved in the industry that you are writing for. Heidi says that this is a must for freelance writers. But she also warns professional writers about doing too much volunteer work. She advises freelances to get something in return for any professional writing you do, such as a testimonial from an industry leader.

As bonus tips, Heidi recommends that freelancers check out Vancouver Writing Jobs to keep up with what employers are looking for. And read books on freelance writing including, Everything You Wanted to Know About Freelance Writing, The Well-Fed Writer, and The Business Side of Creativity.

Good luck!

Communicating Professionally: Asma Farooq

Asma Farooq at the UFV Graduation Ceremony in June.

1. When did you graduate, and what did you study at UFV?

I graduated in December 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology/Anthropology and a minor in Communications. Along the way I also completed a Liberal Arts Diploma and certificates in Business Administration and Professional Communications Essentials.

2. What is your current role, and what are the main forms of communication required of you?

I am the Communications Coordinator for the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice. This is a local non-profit organization representing family physicians in Chilliwack, Agassiz-Harrison and Hope.

I’m primarily responsible for website content management, publishing our monthly e-newsletter, managing our social media platforms and for specific events. We advertise through new and traditional media, such as newspapers and radio.

3. Why did you decide to complete a minor in Communications?

I took my first Communications classes to complete the Professional Communications Essentials Certificate. It seemed like a useful addition to my portfolio because it offered me tangible workplace skills that I could use in the “real world”.

Within the first few weeks of those Communications classes, I realized that I was learning skills that were not only highly practical but were also transferable to a variety of workplaces.

4. Can you describe a highlight from the courses you took in CMNS?

Perhaps the most daunting and the most rewarding course I took was CMNS 235, Oral Communications. Public speaking may be the one of the most common fears around, but it’s also one of the most essential skills in the workplace.

That one course not only made me a better speaker (at least I hope it did) but it helped me recognize the value of pushing boundaries and stepping out of my comfort zone for the sake of my personal as well as professional growth. It became the starting point for me to take courses that I knew were going to particularly challenge me.

That experience helped me tackle learning design for print and online medi,a and I also collaborated with a UFV section to produce communication plans for a project they were working on.

5. With the wisdom of hindsight and experience, what communication-related advice would you offer current UFV students as they prepare for graduation and/or employment?

Diversify your skill set. Whether you’re majoring in Sciences, Business or Arts, learning how to communicate gives you the ability to highlight your strengths. Related to that—networking is key. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason.

Networking is often made out to be a set of abstract and elusive skills, but it’s really not. Talk to your professors, attend job fairs and ask friends and family. I was lucky enough to get my first break from a professor’s recommendation. My experience provides a case in point example of the power of others vouching for your abilities.

6. Is there an aspect of communication you would like to see added or covered in greater depth at UFV?

I would love to see more of the technical courses being offered, especially in video production and website management.

I also think integrating work experience through practicum courses more fully into the Communications program would be valuable. It’s a way for students to obtain work experience that fresh graduates need to make themselves attractive candidates for employment.

7. What is the one communications-related skill you feel is most valuable to you in the workplace?

Strategic planning is essential—along with everyday communication. We need to step back and ask “How does this particular communication activity fit into what our overall goals and objectives are?”

It’s easy to get mired in the minute details so it’s a question of striking the balance between getting through the daily checklist but also evaluating what we’re doing and how this contributes to the bigger picture. The evaluative work then feeds back into fine-tuning the strategic communications plans.

 

Many thanks, Asma, for taking the time to respond to our questions. We’re happy to see that you have found success, and that your career path has kept you with us in the Fraser Valley.

 

 

 

Blog and Tweet says Penny Park to Canadian Scientists

Dr Penny Park presenting at UFV Abbotsford Campus. Photograph by Betsy Terpsma.
Dr Penny Park presenting at UFV Abbotsford Campus. Photograph by Betsy Terpsma.

Last week, the University of the Fraser Valley brought one of their honourary doctorate recipients, Dr Penny Park from the Science Media Centre of Canada, back to campus to speak about the urgent need to communicate science in Canada.

Penny called for scientists to “step up”and correct misinformation when they saw it. She spoke about instances where public misinformation in Canada had exponentially grown; citing recent examples of climate change, genetic engineering, and vaccinations.

“Scientists want to weigh things up, to take their time to think about things; but communication is speeding up,” Penny said.

“You [scientists] have an obligation to reach out to the public beyond your organisation’s boundaries. We need you,” she added.

Penny referred to an EKOS research poll from 2011 showing that Canadians trust scientists more than they trust a lot of other groups, including politicians.

“Be terrier like. If you see something that is inaccurate, do something about it.”

She also answered audience questions about the practicalities of engaging with the public. Rather than “dumbing down” research for the public, she essentially called on researchers to challenge people with their ideas rather than their language.

“Consider how your work might enter a conversation that is already happening,” she urged.

In an earlier blog post, I referred to a talk by Jim Hoggan, from Hoggan and Associates, who warned that researchers were in danger of contributing negatively to already polarised public debates. I asked Penny if researchers might be contributing more noise to already noisy issues. Her response was for scientists to use trusted channels of communication, such as the Science Media Centre of Canada or start their own blog or Twitter site where they could establish credibility with a following before an issue became a problem.

Penny Park receiving her honorary doctorate from UFV in 2013.
Penny Park receiving an honorary doctorate from UFV in 2013.

Penny also responded to questions about what “sells” science to the public. She advised scientists to consume the media where they would like to publish so that they could appreciate what that community of viewers or readers needs to know. This also serves to get to know what the editors like.  She cited what she referred to as the “NASA School of Journalism”, which has brought space to the world through images and animations

“Canadians love weather and sex,” she said. “Animal sex always makes a great story.”

UFV President, Mark Evered, asked Penny about communicating research before peer review. He was concerned that communicating too early could damage the reputation of scientists and science in general. Penny responded that it is the duty of scientists not to oversell what they’ve got.

She also called for journalists as well as public readers and viewers, to look critically at the information they are presented with.

“Critical thinking is the key,” she emphasized.

Penny ended the President’s 2014 Leadership Lecture with a call to for UFV to engage students in critical thinking around numeracy and statistics.

“Make it attractive and they’ll want to learn more,” she said.

 

Professional Writers Association of Canada members share thoughts on professional writing

Kathleen Rake

Five Fraser Valley writers are visiting UFV’s Abbotsford Campus on March 12 to talk writing with students, graduates and others. Here’s a taste of what they’ll share at the event.

Kathleen Rake
Kathleen Rake

Kathleen Rake is founder of Click Media Works. She has more than 20 years of professional experience writing and editing for social media, magazines, newspapers, industry, government, non-profit, small business, and the web. I asked her about the valuable advice she learned from her mentor(s).

Some important advice from one of my mentors, paraphrased is:

“Write to express, not impress”.

Heidi Turner
Heidi Turner

Heidi Turner is an award winning writer who specialises in business writing and grant proposals. She has published on CBC.ca, Just Dance Magazine and Business Fraser Valley. I asked her what advice she’d give to people starting out their careers as professional writers.

Know what you are worth. By graduating from a writing program, you are already more prepared than 90 percent of the people out there who call themselves writers.

When you’re applying for a job or setting your rates as a freelance writer, don’t sell yourself short. Charge what you’re worth, even if you’re just starting out.

Janet Love Morrison
Janet Love Morrison

Janet Love Morrison’s writing has appeared in publications including the Pique Newsmagazine, Ski Canada, The Globe and Mail. I asked her to tell us something about her writing process.

Before I start to write, I meditate and become clear on my intent – what I want to share. It’s not about me, it’s about how my writing serves the bigger picture.

I feel we have to be careful with the word “influence”. Are you writing from another’s beliefs or your own? I don’t seek anyone’s approval.

Lynda Grace Philippsen
Lynda Grace Philippsen

Lynda Grace Philippsen’s reviews, essays and feature stories have appeared in various journals, newspapers and magazines nationally and internationally. She is also the current president of the Fraser Valley chapter of the Professional Writers Association of Canada.  I asked her what she loved most about being a professional writer?

Living the dream, in the Joseph Campbell sense:

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

Nothing can touch that.  And sometimes somebody pays me to do that. Bonus.

Ronda Payne
Ronda Payne

Ronda Payne is a full time copywriter, freelancer and creative writer. She is a regular contributor to a variety of publications and also has a number of books and stories on the go. I asked her if she had a favourite quote that sustains her through her writing.

“Look then into thine heart and write” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow .This has been one of the quotes that sustains me and keeps me going. Just write.

When that isn’t doing the trick, I’ll go with one I created. You know the song “It’s a pirate’s life for me” they play in the pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland? I modify that to sing: “It’s a writer’s life for me”

And then, when all else fails, I remind myself of what sports columnist Red Smith said, “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

All students and recent UFV graduates who love writing are welcome to attend the March 12 event. This is your chance to make connections with people who share your passion.

  • Date:     Wednesday, March 12, 2014
  • Time:     6:30 – 8:30 PM
  • Place:    UFV Campus A225/229
  • Cost:      FREE! Admission by pre-registration only. Wine and refreshments will be served at intermission.

To pre-register contact Michelle.Riedlinger@ufv.ca by Friday March 7, 2014.

Pre-registration prizes include:

  • Lunch at Restaurant 62 with Andrew Holota, Editor of The Abbotsford News
  • Three one-hour coach and connect sessions with a PWAC member
  • Lunch at Restaurant 62 with UFV Writer-in-Residence, Daniela Elza

….and more!

 

Get Lucky at UFV’s Professional Writing Event on March 12

University of the Fraser Valley students and graduates interested in careers as professional writers will be treated to some free advice from local writers next month. Members of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) will be on the Abbotsford campus to talk about Writing for a Living.

Designed to help participants find the paths into professional writing, the March 12th evening event features panelists who will answer questions and network “speed dating-style” with writers who are just starting out.

Writing for a Living“We’ve all been there,” said Lynda Grace Philippsen, President of Fraser Valley PWAC. “We all relied on mentors and know how important this is. Networking is a huge part of success as a professional writer whether you are beginning or established in your career. We’re excited about the chance to work with UFV students.”

This community-based event is a first for Fraser Valley PWAC but support for the event has been generous.

Lynda confirms, “The energy is great. Student organizations, the Alumni Association, and UFV Departments have come together with us to create the Writing for a Living event and provide sponsorship.”

The Abbotsford News has also stepped up to offer its support to the event.

Since its foundation more than 25 years ago PWAC has welcomed student and associate members who receive most of the benefits of full membership without being required to meet the criteria for publication. Those benefits include a press card, mentoring, networking, references, professional development, information about job opportunities and much more.

“Students get all that for the price of one calorie-rich specialty coffee a month. Really, it’s all win-win,” notes Lynda. As an added bonus, students who are already PWAC members in the year that they graduate can continue their student membership at the student price one full year after graduation.

All students and recent UFV graduates who love writing are welcome to attend this event. This is your chance to “get lucky” and make connections with people who share your passion.

  • Date:     Wednesday, March 12, 2014
  • Time:     6:30 – 8:30 PM
  • Place:    UFV Campus A225/229
  • Cost:      FREE! Admission by pre-registration only. Wine and refreshments will be served at intermission.

To pre-register contact Michelle.Riedlinger@ufv.ca by Friday March 7, 2014.

Pre-registration prizes include:

  • Lunch at Restaurant 62 with Andrew Holota, Editor of The Abbotsford News
  • Three one-hour coach and connect sessions with a PWAC member
  • Lunch at Restaurant 62 with UFV Writer-in-Residence, Daniela Elza

….and more!