Want to take the



Publishing OpEds can advance your career and the mission of your clients. These short, opinion-editorial pieces help strengthen your ties between you and the news media and expand your network of connected professionals. Network building is what we do best, and the more connected we are, the more we can promote our clients, our brands and our institutions. To make those important connections, start writing for local and national news outlets because they need you just as much as you need them. As practiced researchers and writers, we already have the required skillsets.

Even editors at the New York Times depend on writers like us to fill their pages. Now that they have their popular Opinionator blog and the Sunday Review to fill, editors are always looking for new voices with fresh perspectives. The Washington Post is another option. These editors want content, too, and you can easily submit with their online form. Plus, organizations like the OpEd Project can help since they’ve already done the majority of the legwork for you. They created an extensive database of over 100 different news outlets that includes writing, formatting, and submission guidelines.

The topic of your OpEd depends on where you plan to submit your piece, but the structure remains the same. An OpEd looks like an argumentative essay with a little extra pizazz. The piece should be grounded in up-to-date research, and can take on a conversational tone, so don’t be scared to infuse some style. It should start with a hook–something your intended audience finds funny or cares about–and then merge into your lede, which attaches your idea to a current news topic. It helps to write out ideas as they come, so you already have something started when that perfect breaking story hits headlines. That way, you can submit before everyone else, which is half the battle.

As JHU graduate students, we have lots of material already started and a good amount of credibility, which helps. Johns Hopkins University just climbed to number 10 in the U.S. News and World report. This report put our institution in both national and global news headlines. People know who we are, so once you have an idea, run with it! That’s what I did. With just one idea and a dash of credibility, I published an OpEd over the summer titled “Facebook and micropayments could save news,” and that idea started in Professor Mary Kane’s Journalism and Publishing course.


In my research, I found it fascinating that Facebook just dominates the social media world, so I saved one of my assignment posts and bookmarked it as a possible OpEd puzzle piece for later. When the Pew Research Center released new data about Millennials now outnumbering Baby Boomers, I knew I had my hook and lede:

“News organizations should rethink their marketing tactics in light of a new study from the Pew Research Center. The bottom line: Millennials (ages 18-34) now outnumber Baby Boomers, and this generation is expected to peak in 2036 at 81.1 million…

…this shift is huge for news organizations because Millennials do not visit news sites, read print newspapers, watch news on television or seek out news in great numbers…

Using the lede to identify a problem or opportunity is a great way to grab readers. How will news organizations get 81.1 Millennials to pay for their product? The proposed solution becomes the last puzzle piece, the ending, and should spark a discussion on the topic, which is ultimately what you want:

“One way to grab [Millennials] could be by a micropayments system, something resembling iTunes where we pay as we go. We don’t want to buy the entire newspaper. We won’t even look at the whole thing, let alone read it…”

As a Millennial myself, I considered how I’d pay for news and thought of iTunes where I purchase one song at a time. Canada has a similar micropayments system for news, and this, I realized, could be a solution that provides some sort of closure for my readers. And as it turned out, a company called Coinetize liked this option too and contacted me after reading my article. It seems these closed endings are grounds for future opportunity, so the more research you have under your belt, the better the resolution will be.

If you take courses at our DC campus, I suggest enrolling in 480.662.51 – Opinion Writing where you will learn all these tricks from an expert. If, like me, you are purely an online student, try 480.658.81 – Public Relations Writing. And remember; don’t let rejection stop you. I submitted many, many different articles prior to publication. And each of those articles was in its fifth or sixth draft. Let your ear be your guide, and if possible, have a trusted friend read it too. Stay patient, stay positive. When your OpEd is finally accepted, the victory of your accomplishment will be that much sweeter.

If you have comments, questions, or ideas about your own OpEd, feel free to contact me at kjense11@jhu.edu or on Facebook. I’m always happy to help!

Photo on 5-4-15 at 7.00 PM

Kara Maddox teaches English at Georgia Military College. She’s working on her MA in Communications through JHU’s digital campus.



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Ever Think of Using your MA in Communication to Teach?

As graduate students, we know by now that teachers can make or break our classroom experience. I still have foggy nightmares of clapping erasers together during recess, picking gum off lunchroom tables and avoiding the nuns that pull ears—my left ear is still a tiny bit higher than my right.

We’ve come a long way in thirty years, but one thing remains the same; my best teachers are still those who encourage difficult questions, treat students as equals and, most importantly, admit their limitations. In a digital age of transparency, it’s important to note no teacher has all the answers, and many answers lay in students’ pockets.

Many of us carry an automatic fact-checker, record keeper, an infinite encyclopedia—our smart phone—with us everywhere we go. Good teachers use this technology. They teach beyond the facts, and good students understand how the facts influence each other. Teachers who can explain these relationships are more engaging, more fun and overall more successful. As comm-grad students, we are a perfect fit for teaching! We’re tech savvy. We know the importance of working together. We know collaboration builds stronger networks, fosters more creativity and produces better outcomes. Teaching also makes us smarter.

The best way to learn is to teach it. This has a little to do with the practice required to deliver a course and everything to do with the questions your students will ask. Opening your knowledge base to others will expose your weak points. For some, this creates a dictator mentality. Control what the students can question, and never leave your comfort zone. For others, this is a great opportunity to learn. Identify what you don’t know, accept no one knows everything, and explore your field further! This requires confidence and a strong work ethic—the very ingredients needed to make an impact in our world today.

Bad teacher

My best courses as an educator are when I am pushed to explain why and how. During my first master’s degree training, I became an expert on the facts. But the facts aren’t all that count anymore. We have to dig deeper, and good students do this. Good students create better teachers. Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle explains this well. Understand why something works and see the connections between the disciplines. Math intersects with science to form the field of medicine. English and journalism intersect with psychology to form the field of communication; nothing is completely defined or static. To find these connections, you need research; you need time; you need students.

So when can you start teaching full time? An easy way to remember faculty requirements is this: on average, faculty need to be two degree levels above the graduates of the institution. More specifically, someone with a master’s degree can teach full time at a two-year college since these students graduate with an associate’s degree. Two community colleges in the Washington DC area currently have adjunct professor openings: University of the District of Columbia is now accepting adjunct positions in all departments, and North Virginia Community College (NOVA) is looking for adjunct faculty for their Communication Technologies & Social Science – English department. Montgomery College is another option but does not have an opening in the communication department at this time. Check back regularly for updates.

Additionally, students who pursue the research track and graduate with a MA can teach entry level courses in their field at a four-year university if they also pursue a doctorate degree. Many universities offer TA—teaching assistant—programs that allow doctoral students to teach during their studies. This is a great opportunity to be a role model for younger students.

What if you would like to teach part-time in addition to your full-time job? There are some opportunities for adjunct teaching if you have high levels of experience as a communication practitioner. Some 4-year and graduate schools offer online or in-person courses that communication experts often teach. The universities are looking for practitioners who can teach cutting edge concepts and tactics in areas like digital communication.

Bottom line is if you’re considering entering the field of education, know that your students will look up to you. Your time and expertise matter. Play on your strengths, confront your weaknesses, and inspire those around you. Remember, no teacher is perfect, and as long as you don’t pull ears, you’re doing a great job in my book.

Photo on 5-4-15 at 7.00 PM

Kara Jensen Maddox is currently working on her MA in Communication. She teaches remedial English and reading, English Composition and World Literature at Georgia Military College in Warner Robins, GA. On her days off, she enjoys writing screenplays, taking photographs and spending time with family.


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I’m Not Just the President…I’m Also a Client!

“I’m not only the president…I’m also a client”
– Sy Sperling, president, Hair Club for Men ca. 1989

There is no greater endorsement of a product than your own personal investment in it. When I started working as the senior communications associate at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, a US Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence that serves 900+ students, I was familiar with its reputation as an outstanding independent Jewish school. Once I got there, I saw why.

The Challenge

How do you effectively sell a product that you haven’t bought, especially when you are the target audience?

At that point, my own children were enrolled at a different school. The longer I worked at BT, the more I appreciated the quality of the education the school offered, the more I wanted my own children to benefit from that kind of educational environment. Their transfer to BT changed their lives…and mine.

I was no longer just a communications associate…I was now also a client.

Rina and Shani '15

With my daughter, Shani ’15

I then truly began to understand the school’s mission — “Learning together. For life.” — from a whole new perspective — not just as a communications professional who promotes the brand to current and prospective parents, but as a parent watching her children flourish academically, socially and spiritually while being welcomed into the community as a fellow parent, not just as a staff member. That experience transformed my role as a communications professional, allowing me to not just promote school’s brand, but to tell its story, understanding its value and impact from the perspective of the people we’re trying to reach: parents.

Moving Through the Funnel

With Rivi '19

With Rivi ’19

Beth Tfiloh is not only an independent Jewish school, it is also the largest Modern Orthodox synagogue in the United States. While I transferred my girls to the school three years ago, I was still a member at another synagogue a mile away. Balancing the marketing demands of a large school is enough to keep me busy — add in the needs of a large synagogue, it can be quite a challenge.

Each weekend, the synagogue offers a multitude of programs for children, pre-teens, teens and adults, all designed to help them experience the beauty and meaning of the Jewish Sabbath in a personal, warm way, regardless of their level of religious affiliation. Some weekends, there are communal meals; others offer a different style of prayer or a guest speaker addressing a hot topic in the Jewish community. Each initiative aims to bring in community members and make them feel at home.

Ahuva ’24

Before I was a member, I promoted those services mechanically, without any personal understanding or connection. Once I joined and started attending services regularly, I saw the energy and excitement both kids and adults alike felt about Sabbath services, and the sense of community created through those services. I’m not just selling a religious service; I’m inviting others to share in what I experience each week. That connection informs my communication strategies and implementation, making me a more effective communicator while also helping me grow professionally — today, I am Beth Tfiloh’s Assistant Director of Communications.

The Lesson: Buy In!

If you are going to devote 8+ hours a day to selling a product or service, find one that you can really get behind personally. Your message will be far more compelling and authentic if you are a satisfied customer — or volunteer, or donor — than if you are just killing 8 hours a day to earn a paycheck.

Rina GoloskovRina Goloskov is the Assistant Director of Communications at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School/Beth Tfiloh Congregation, using her nearly two decades of communications experience to manage the brand of both a US Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence that serves 900+ students, as well as a 2,000-family Jewish congregation, across multiple marketing channels: website, social media, print and radio advertising, direct mail, and e-mail. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Touro College and is currently pursuing a combined MA in Communications and Certificate in Non-Profit Management at Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs. Contact or network with her on LinkedIn.

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The Selling of You: Your Personal Brand

who are youAs a communications professional, you’re always focused on promoting your clients. But what have you done lately to promote yourself? If you want to get ahead in your career, you can’t just be good at what you do. You have to think about your personal brand.

Take Control

While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging. But it’s not just what’s on the outside. It’s a compilation of your vision, mission, values, and personality. This is what you need to think about in the selling of you.

Self-promotion is not always looked upon as a positive attribute. But, if you are serious about advancing your position, raising your profile, or changing careers, it’s time to think about marketing yourself by working on your personal brand. It’s up to you to take the necessary steps to create the brand you want, manage it, and take it in a positive direction to achieve your career goals.

Take Stock

Although you may not have strategically marketed yourself yet, people do perceive you in a particular way. Their perception is based on their experience with you, your track record, and what’s out there about you – the infamous “digital footprint.” Google yourself, examine your social platforms from the view of an outsider, look at past performance reviews and emails in which people have expressed their appreciation. What qualities stand out? What are you known for? What does this picture of you look like? Are you happy with it?

brand research

Take a Stand

Maybe you don’t like what you see. Maybe you want to go in a new direction. Is it possible to change your brand? Just ask Madonna. She has invented and re-invented herself so many times in the past 30 years to stay marketable. Consider your career goals, the values that are important to you, what you want to accomplish in your career. Write them down. You may have “winged it “ in high school, when you were class clown, the intellectual, the athlete. But there’s too much at stake now. Decide who you are and, more important, who you want to be.

Take Action

Where you need to start is your vision and mission The vision statement expresses what you want to achieve in the future, the ideal of what you want to accomplish. What do you enjoy most about your career? What motivates you? What are your greatest strengths?

The mission statement is more about what you want to achieve now and how you will reach your vision. To create your mission statement, think about what you do, how you do it, the target audience, what makes you unique, and the value do you provide.

Your vision and mission statements should give you the laser focus to work towards your goals.

Take Action

Marketing yourself is not a whole lot different than marketing your clients.Determine your key messages and the vehicles you can use to gain visibility. Online opportunities abound. Share your opinion and your insights and engage with others. As you find your voice, devise a plan for creating your own content and marketing it. Establish your own space online – a website or a blog – that you can use an anchor. Then drive people there from your social platforms. Create your own community. Strive to become a thought leader in your field.

Putting yourself out there might seem intimidating. It takes confidence in your experience and ideas, as well as courage to be visible. A lot of people may have the same knowledge as you do you your field. But if you market yourself better, you will stand out and achieve your goals.

As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Don’t leave it to chance.

Eileen 2 Seattle CroppedEileen Masciale founded EJM Public Relations after serving as vice president at a New York City PR firm. She is especially passionate about healthcare communications and nonprofits. She works with several major PR firms and is the Consulting Director of Communications for The Marfan Foundation. Reach Eileen by email (ejm@ejmpr.net) or follow her @EileenMasciale.

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The Patient Experience: The Importance of Care, Communication, and Compassion in the Hospital Room

Book cover of "The Patient Experience"

Book cover of “The Patient Experience”

I believe in healthcare because I owe my life to modern medicine.

As a Hopkins M.A. in Communication student, healthcare advocate, and former ICU patient, I have focused my efforts on improving the level of communication in the hospital between the patient, their family, and the care providers that are taking care of them.

I frequently speak about the patient experience throughout the year, and I have collaborated with several health care institutions on communication projects related to patient and family engagement in the hospital setting. One project in particular that I really enjoyed working on last year was ‘Project Emerge’ with Dr. Peter Pronovost and the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins. This project consisted of a technologically innovative electronic tablet that improves communication in the hospital setting. Later this summer I will be working with the Armstrong Institute again on a national project regarding mechanically ventilated patients.

My path to the health communication field began one month after I graduated high school in 2004. I was coming home from swim practice and was involved in a near fatal car accident with a speeding dump truck. My dreams were shattered like the bones in my body. I lost 60% of my blood, heart was ripped across my chest, lungs collapsed, major organs were damaged, pelvis and ribs were pulverized, and I was resuscitated eight times. While in a two-month long medically-induced coma, I was unable to move or talk to anyone around me, yet I was able to hear, see, and feel pain for a majority of my time in the Intensive Care Unit.

As a family, my parents and I never thought that we would face such a traumatic situation, or rather, such a horrific nightmare. We were thrown into a place consisting of surgeries, machines, tubes, blood, and medical terms that caused utter confusion.

Due to a concussion, I woke up not knowing how I arrived at the hospital, or why I was paralyzed, or why my parents were hysterically crying every time they came in my room. I had so many questions and needed so many answers. My parents had many questions also – about my prognosis, what the future would hold, and if life would ever return to normal. But again, there were no answers. There was no guidebook or support group to prepare us for what we were in for as a family.

What I learned throughout my time in the hospital is that while I may have been the patient lying in the hospital bed, I was not the only one in that room who was suffering. The observations that I made truly inspired me and helped me understand how important the role of communication is among the patient, family, and health care provider. When I was able to learn how to talk again, I soon discovered that the power of the voice is amplified when the message is of gratitude, that a simple smile cannot be underestimated, and that body language and tone of voice are critical components within the hospital room.

Speaking at the 2012 Johns Hopkins Patient Safety Summit

Speaking at the 2012 Johns Hopkins Patient Safety Summit

This background that I have as a patient, and now healthcare advocate, is what inspired me to want to pursue my M.A. in Communication at Hopkins. I have the background of being a patient, but now I’m gaining the knowledge and resources in my classes to be able to influence the level of care and communication in the healthcare realm. Last semester in my Independent Study course, Professor Susan Allen gave me guidance and support as I wrote my second book called, The Patient Experience: The Importance of Care, Communication, and Compassion in the Hospital Room. In this book, my parents and I share our sincere gratitude and insight with the medical community from a patient and family perspective. We also hope that our experiences can offer hope and guidance for families facing the heartbreaking sadness when an unexpected, life-altering medical situation occurs.

Our goal is to offer suggestions that we hope will improve the overall experience for both the caregiver, the patient, and their family. In order for us to provide better care for these individuals, we must understand the experiences they go through within the health care system. We must observe what they think and feel as they go through their journey. Our story is only one journey and it is intended as a means to express our appreciation to health care providers and also initiate the much-needed conversation of how we can take a step further to improve the experience for the patient and their family.

This book offers a rare and unique glimpse of what the patient and family are going through, and it covers the information that my parents and I wish we had during our time in the hospital.

brianboyle_biophotoBrian Boyle has been on a mission to make an impact in healthcare education since he left the hospital in 2004. He has been recognized for his contributions with several national awards, including the American Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence, the Daily Points of Light Award, the Johns Hopkins Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service award, and the Champion of Change award from President Obama. Brian has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, NBC’s Today Show, ESPN, CNN, and several other programs throughout the country. He is the National Volunteer Spokesman of the American Red Cross, a columnist with The Huffington Post, a blogger for The British Medical Journal, a patient advocate for The Armstrong Institute, and is currently in grad school at Johns Hopkins University earning his M.A. in Communication and an MBA with a concentration in Healthcare Management. He resides in Southern Maryland. More information on Brian’s story can be seen on his website, Twitter, and LinkedIn account. 

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For The Love Of…Media and Relationships

I graduated from JHU back in 2009 (yikes)! Was Instagram even around then? It wasn’t. Either way, one of the most exciting stages of working on my master’s degree at JHU was preparing for my thesis. Granted, we all started prepping for thesis the minute we enrolled for our first class but once I picked my topic and started researching and writing, I knew I was close to the finish line. My thesis, “Media Coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Relationship: African-American Perceptions of Black Love in the Media” is still my pride and joy. Why this topic you ask? Well, who doesn’t love love? Also at that time, Barack Obama was elected the first Black president and what followed were numerous newspaper headlines, magazine covers and hours of coverage focusing on his relationship with Michelle. The bulk of coverage purported that ‘Black love’ had returned or was now a reality because Barack and Michelle appeared to actually like each other. A labor of love if you will, my completed thesis was later used as an example in the ‘Applied Qualitative Research’ class, which is the perfect segue to the point of this post.

Laughing at an audience member's comment during Districtly Speaking's 'Black Love' Panel Photo courtesy: Nefertiti Pokahantas (Sabrina Thompson)

Enjoying an audience member’s comment during Districtly Speaking’s ‘Black Love’ Town Hall
Photo courtesy: Nefertiti Pokahantas (Sabrina Thompson)

I met a student from that very class, Jonelle Henry. She started a political and social soapbox, Districtly Speaking, through which she periodically hosts engaging town halls. She invited me to participate in last month’s town hall, which was a celebration and discussion of Black television shows and films, and the popular Black couples that became household staples. We discussed Black TV shows from The Cosby Show and Martin, to classic Black movies like Love Jones and Love & Basketball and as a result, the discussion was lively. We also discussed real-life couples like Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith and Barack and Michelle Obama, and the love we assumed and hoped existed between them.

What remains constant about love is that everyone has felt and experienced it; therefore everyone has an opinion about it. When it comes to romantic relationships, multiply the number of opinions by 10. Since I can’t share all of those opinions, I picked a few points I thought you’d find interesting as it relates to the media:

  • Claire and Cliff Huxtable from The Cosby Show are neck and neck with Barack and Michelle Obama for favorite Black couple. The loose similarities in career success, child rearing and just overall lovable factor make the two couples the ultimate blueprint of relationships. While one is fiction and the other reality, both couples represent positive representations of Blacks in the media.
  • Participants from my study, and some attendees at the town hall, expressed frustration that fictitious couples were even used as a blueprint for romantic relationships. Someone at the town hall even asked whether Caucasian viewers had to look to couples on television to help guide their relationships. I don’t have the answer to that question but what I realized from my research is that I only scratched the surface and there is a lot more to explore about the media and its impact on all romantic relationships.
  • One major takeaway came up during the panel when an attendee asked “Whose responsibility is it to protect and uphold the image of Blacks in the media- the consumers or the creators?” In other words, should Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) or Lee Daniels (Precious, Empire), both Black creatives, take care to only show ‘positive’ representations of Blacks in the media?

Should Scandal’s Olivia Pope refrain from engaging in relationships with married men? Perhaps but that certainly doesn’t mean all Black women consume huge amounts of red wine and popcorn and are involved in love triangles. Or does this mean consumers should stop watching television shows with what they think are ‘negative’ representations to demonstrate that they want something better? The conversation got a little heated as the room was divided on this one so I’m curious to hear what my fellow JHU alum and students think.

What we did agree on during the town hall is that beautiful images of Black love do exist (thank goodness) but we have to mind how these images affect the way we perceive love and each other.


Mercy ChikoworeMercy Chikowore (@MercyC) is a Public Relations and Social Media consultant, freelance writer and Communications Director for the DC chapter of ColorComm. With almost a decade of PR and marketing experience under her belt, Mercy has worked with nonprofit, entertainment and private sector clients. The Zimbabwe native received her Bachelor of Arts from Claflin University where she studied Print Journalism and later received her Master of Arts in Communication from The Johns Hopkins University. While at JHU she focused on Public and Media Relations and completed and defended her thesis: “Media Coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Relationship: African-American Perceptions of Black Love in the Media.” Mercy often serves as a voice on relationship, career and communication panels and writes music reviews and guest posts on PR blogs. Her most recent post, Never Stop Moving: One PR Professional Shares Her Biggest Lesson, may inspire you. Mercy is also a pop culture junkie, sushi addict and has an unhealthy obsession with music and live concerts. Don’t be shy, you can say ‘hi’ to Mercy on LinkedIn or send her a tweet!


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The Pressure to Produce

by Anastasia Parsons

I’m in a staring contest with my cursor. I’m waiting on it to blink first.

Writers Block

Image from suzannevince.com

Okay, so it’s a lame joke, and it’s definitely a writer’s humor, but as jabs go, it is a pretty honest swipe at what it’s like to work day in and day out as a content creator. Some days you’re so prolific, the sentences just fly from your fingertips as you type away, and other days, well, it’s just not there.

Welcome to every content creator’s nightmare – writer’s block. Working in communications, it is something to be both feared and expected. We have all panicked over deadlines that inch closer and closer while your computer screen remains blank. In a business that puts a premium on content as well as speed – you’ve got to scoop the competition whenever you can – the pressure to produce can be paralyzing at times.

Personally, I’ve encountered writer’s block more times than I care to admit over the course of nearly two decades working as a writer. I’ve even had it in those moments where you’re not supposed to freeze, like when a crisis communication needs to be crafted and sent out the door ASAP. Inspiration is a fickle thing and, unfortunately, it is not always going to come when you need it to. So what do you do? What do you need to know about dislodging the logjam in your brain that is keeping you from producing the content you need to make deadline?

Walk Sign

Image from Clyde Robertson – Flickr

Get On Up
Given that Americans sit an average of 13 hours a day – according to a survey from Ergotron – it’s little wonder that once bright ideas lose their luster and dim from time to time. When I get stuck, I’ve found the most effective technique for chipping away at writer’s block is to simply get up and move around. Getting away from my screen for a short walk has been known to produce miracles when the creativity simply isn’t flowing. And, science confirms this advice. A recent Stanford University study found that walking boosts creative inspiration:

Across the board, creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting.

Distractions are Good
That saying about the definition of insanity and doing the same thing over and over again is pretty spot on when you’re attempting to create content. When I find myself spinning in circles with a piece, sometimes my only recourse is to stop and work on something else for a while. The something else can be anything from answering emails to organizing files. It can be mundane and mindless or involved and engaging, the “what” doesn’t so much matter, it’s the problem solving that goes along with doing something different that is the key. Thinking critically about something separate has a tendency to open up those uncooperative neural pathways keeping your creativity at bay.


Image from Monte Mendoza – Flickr

It’s Not That Complicated
Most often I find that when I am truly and profoundly blocked, it’s usually because I’m overcomplicating the process. I am looking at an idea from too many angles or trying to incorporate more information than is necessary to convey the point. Unless what you are writing is an involved dissertation on the inner workings of a rocket engine or a specific, life-saving surgery technique, it is likely that your content is not that complicated. Narrowing down an idea to the simplest possible terms and explanation isn’t always easy, but it is likely the information your audience is most interested in. So, simplify.

Invariably, at some point in your communications career you will encounter your own O.K. Corral of sorts as you try to outstare your cursor. Getting beyond the block is not always easy, but it’s also not impossible. Just remember to keep a pair of walking shoes close by, and you should be able to beat that cursor every time.

Have another way that helps you deal with writer’s block? Make sure to note it in the comments below.

Anastasia ParsonsAnastasia Parsons is a seasoned communications specialist based in Reston, VA, who currently works as part of an internal marketing agency for a software solutions organization. For nearly 15 years, Anastasia has provided content creation and management strategies for a variety of organizations in both the non-profit and corporate sectors. She has been highly involved – and in some cases the mastermind behind – award-winning marketing and communications concepts and campaigns. In her free time, Anastasia enjoys reading, spending time with her friends and family, and writing about making life bigger for her blog, LivingWide.net. She is also actively in the process of completing her first novel. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia and will earn her Masters of Arts in Communication through The Johns Hopkins University in Spring 2015. You can find Anastasia on LinkedIn.

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