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“Does poetry need paper?”: Writing Advice from Don DeLillo October 19, 2012

This week, the Chicago Public Library Foundation awarded novelist Don DeLillo the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, and to mark the occasion, DeLillo appeared at the downtown Harold Washington Library last night to read and discuss his latest work, The Angel Esmeralda, a collection of short stories.  It was an illuminating discussion.  Donna Seaman, the moderator, asked DeLillo about his influences and themes, but there were also many insights into DeLillo’s process as a writer. (more…)


The Art of Revision October 17, 2012

I am a writer. I write — and up until last year, I absolutely, under no circumstances, did not re-write. (more…)


Scrawl Season 5 Episode 2: (Radio Edit) October 2, 2012

Robert sits down with Heather Jagman, DePaul University’s Coordinator of Library Instruction, to talk about the importance of Banned Books Week.  Heather talks about her experience in grade school and not having a public library in her town and how that motivated her interest in library science.


We discuss book banning in public institutions such as schools and libraries, and Heather gives us some background on the origins of Banned Books Week.


Also, Robert gives us the Top 10 list of challenged books of 2011.


Original Air Date:  9-28-2012

(Due to technical difficulties, we are unable to post the audio from this episode.)


Fear of Papers: A Tutor Coming Out September 25, 2012

Working at the writing center, it is usually assumed that you love to write papers. I am testifying today, however, that this is not always the case. (more…)


Chat with a Tutor: A Force for Democracy? September 20, 2012

The UCWbL’s highly popular Chat with a Tutor service is back and better than ever. Let’s take a look at how to use it–and why you should. (more…)


Scrawl Season 4 Episode 8: Scrawl Signs off with some Snookie June 14, 2012

Greetings all ye lovers of Scrawl!

After some viewer feedback about our famous segment “Snookie’s Corner,” we thought to ourselves why not give our beloved fans what they want and dedicate an entire show to Snookie’s Corner! 


Mark, Tom, and Robert picked three of our best books yet.  We explore sexuality and relationships with men in Gia Spumanti’s life, the character in Nicole “Snookie” Polizzi’s Gorilla Beach.  Ethan Hawke’s The Hottest State offers us some great discussion about reliability in your narrator, as well as the narrator’s voice and tone.  And finally, things get weird, for Tom at least (which weirds out Robert and Mark), in our discussion of a young teens trip through puberty and sexuality in Pamela Anderson’s Star.


We also read some Tweets from Indie Hulk, play some awesome music, and close out by talking about Michael Showalter’s “The Apartment,” which offers us some great insights into how to avoid sounding like a young, inexperienced writer.


Thank you all for a great year and we will see you in the fall.  From Scrawl, sayonara and have a great summer!

Air Date: 6-1-12


4 helpful websites for freelance writers June 1, 2012

Can you write? Do you need some extra cash this summer? Depending on your level of desperation (hey, we’ve all been there), consider putting your mad writing skills to work with one of the following sites:

1. Guru.com. Desperation level: Low. Whether you are an experienced freelance writer or are just starting out, Guru makes it easy to search for freelance work online. Anyone can search for projects, but you can only bid on them as a registered user. While it’s free to register, Guru takes a cut from the total project’s cost. Even though the top two project types are IT-related, the “Writing, Editing & Translation” category ranks third, with more  than 500 gigs to bid on. What are you waiting for?

2. Zaarly.com. Desperation level: Low. It’s free to both post and respond to freelance job offers using Zaarly, and it’s easy to sign up through Facebook. The biggest downside, however, is that there aren’t a whole lot of gigs available in Chicago. At the time of this writing, I found only one offer for writing services–$15 to rework one paragraph of web text. (Sign me up!). But until there are more users in Chicago-land, you might want to look elsewhere.

3. TaskRabbit.com. Desperation level: Medium. While it’s free to become a TaskRabbit (yes, that’s the moniker you’ll assume on this site), you have to apply, interview, and undergo an extensive background check in order to get started. Basically, how this works is that folks can outsource tasks they don’t want to do themselves in a competitive bidding process. You and other TaskRabbits bid on these projects, and the lowest bidder wins. Be sure to check out the jobs that fall under the categories Office Help and Virtual Assistance, where you’ll be more likely to put your writing skills to use.

4. Fiverr.com. Desperation level: High. What are you willing to do for $5?  While chugging a bottle of hot sauce in a $5 bet with friends is quicker than, say, transcribing a five minute audio clip, it’s definitely more painful. Actually, you’ll only get $4 after Fiverr.com takes its cut, but if you’re creative, or happen to talk like Patrick Stewart, you can make some quick cash without too much effort. Of course, there are the more pedestrian writing and editing gigs being offered, but it looks like the most popular jobs fall under the Fun & Bizarre category!

Whether or not you actually use one of these sites or different ones, one of the best things you can do to begin freelancing is buy a domain name and set up a simple website for yourself. You can still ply your trade using other sites, of course, but with your own site you can customize it with samples of your work, your resume, etc. If you’re a member of the DePaul community, you can always use Digication, but you won’t be able to have your own domain name. In any case, with a site of your own, you’d be able to market yourself in any way you see fit.

Have I missed other, possibly much better sites for freelance writers to ply their trade? If so, please leave a comment below!


Scrawl S4E7: Tom Puts on His Writing Shorts May 29, 2012

Warning: The audio content below is both entertaining and informative. Listen at your discretion.

Have you ever seen a movie and thought Hey, I can do that! Well according to Tom, you can!  On this episode of Scrawl, Tracey joins the guys in a fabulous discussion about screenwriting.  We talk about what screenwriting is, how it functions, as well as what should and should not be included in a screenplay.  Tom gives his advice on what works and what doesn’t, and Tracey and Robert talk about their recent introduction to the genre.  Toward the end of the program, Tom puts on his writing shorts as the gang does a table read of one of his original screenplays Pinewood.


If you enjoy writing screenplays, have ever thought about writing screenplays, or just plain love movies and television shows and want to know more about how they are written, this is the episode for you!




Presenting the Best You: The Personal Statement

I think we can all agree, personal statements are the worst.  Hated and feared by the high schooler, and blacked out over the undergraduate years, it’s no contest that personal statements are one of the most dreaded forms of writing.  They are, however, necessary – and especially for a lot of you graduating students, if you’re applying for further education, or jobs, or scholarships or grants.  And so, by popular demand (judging by the number of desperate personal statement writers I’ve had in the past week), here is a short guide to writing a good personal statement.  Note – this is not a guarantee of success, but simply a short and sweet set of tips that should give you some direction and maybe even motivation (gasp!). (more…)


Get Help with Digication ePortfolios: a brand-new resource! May 4, 2012

Maybe you’re a student who recently had to create an ePortfolio for a class, or maybe you’re an instructor, and your colleagues just won’t stop raving about the benefits ePortfolios bring to a class. Perhaps you’re even one of those ePortfolio enthusiasts yourself.  No matter who you are, you’ll find something useful among our latest batch of ePortfolio resources.