Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Trudging Through ‘Maintain’ Mode

Sometimes in life, you can’t help but feel beaten down. It seems that anything and everything can go wrong all at once. This week has been one of those for me as a homeowner. My dishwasher is dead, my refrigerator’s motor went caput, my carport started leaking, the check engine light on my car popped on days before my emissions test is due and my furnace has decided to only kick on when it feels like it.

On top of that, I have 60 papers needing grading that keep staring at me with the evil eye and several freelance assignment deadlines this month.

I’ve declared this week my ‘maintain’ week. I can’t possibly trudge forward with zestful energy; instead, I must go through the motions and ‘maintain’ to keep my sanity. Continue reading

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February 27, 2011 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | 2 Comments

The Snow-Covered Editor-Writer Relationship

This weekend, my mom got on me about not shoveling the snow off my driveway after the Midwest was pummeled with 12 inches of winter wonderland-ness. My response? “We have 4-wheel drive. Why do we need to shovel?”

I’ll spare you with the ‘you should think of others’ lecture I received after she tried to pull her little car in my driveway and move on to what the conversation inspired me to think about – Editor and Writer Relationships. Continue reading

January 23, 2011 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , | 3 Comments

Productivity: One Wet Dog at a Time

For the past few days, I’ve had the house to myself. It sounds like a wonderful thing – time to complete all of those tasks that I’ve been putting off, time to sit back, relax and catch up on TV shows, and time to do all of those things I’ve wanted to do, yet I’ve been too busy to accomplish.

Wrong. It is a horrible thing, especially for productivity.

Instead of vegging out on the couch, completing home projects and freelance gigs and washing the dog who has smelled up the entire house, I have been a miserable wreck of ADD-stricken angst. Continue reading

June 11, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Writing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Writing is Like Dancing

I’ve never been much of a dancer. Besides a few wedding receptions, 20-something bachelorette parties and a teen party in the past, I don’t usually show off my dancing moves for all to see. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to pop, lock and drop it for the sake of embarrassing my kids, but I’m not an expert by any means.

My daughter, though, is an avid dancer and has performed in recitals for the past five years. I sit in awe each recital weekend, amazed at the determination these dancers have and the grace they exhibit with each number.

When I watch my daughter dance with her peers, I’m reminded of how dancing is such a beautiful art of expression – just like writing. Continue reading

June 6, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Writing | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m a Scaredy Cat Writer

It may sound incredibly ironic for me to admit, as a teacher of writing and an active freelance writer, that I am deathly afraid of writing. With every project I begin, fear consumes me and I initially panic. I doubt myself and sadly, procrastinate.

And then, I breathe and realize that I’m human.

Fear is a natural reaction for writers. The pressure to create a phenomenal piece that influences the world, inspires a reader and possibly win an award mounts and eats away at our confidence and ultimately, can tear away at the creativity we have the talent to create. Continue reading

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Inspiring Summer Reading Program

When I was younger, I loved to read – everything from each book in the Sweet Valley High series to magazines and newspapers. This love of reading inspired my love of writing. I would read books and articles and try to mimic the style, the action and the flow that engaged me for hours on end.

Over the years, time has not been kind to my love of reading. Between preparing for my classes, running kids to soccer games and dance lessons and maintaining somewhat of a clean house, the hours turned to minutes (and often these minutes consisted of keeping up with my RSS feeds on my mobile phone).

My children, though, have found the time to read and they read hours on end, especially when the cable is out or their Nintendo DS games need to be charged. Continue reading

May 28, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Parenting, Reflecting, Writing | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Editors Fix. Coaches Build.

In almost every newsroom – student or professional – the animosity between copy editors and writers is often visibly apparent. Copy editors profess about commas and fragments passionately. Writers hold onto their text as if someone is trying to rob every ounce of their being.

Both parties have legitimate concerns. However, when treacherous debates occur, honestly, they defeat the purpose of what both parties are trying to accomplish – producing better copy. Continue reading

March 31, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Story Sources are E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E

One common complaint that I field in my journalism classes is that students have difficulty finding sources for stories. “So-and-so won’t talk to me because I’m not a ‘real’ reporter” or “I sent three e-mails, but I never heard back” is what I typically hear.

My first response: You ARE a real reporter, so act as if.
My second response: Pick up the phone. Don’t rely on e-mail.

The reality is that sources are everywhere. They are hiding in their offices on campus, protesting on downtown streets, voicing their beliefs on Facebook and tweeting their opinions. As a journalist, your task is to find them, track them down and get the interview. Continue reading

March 19, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Meaty Story or Milky Mess?

 I’ve never been one to rush out the night before a “predicted” snow storm and buy up all the milk and bread on the shelves. In fact, I often refuse to go anywhere near the stores when a storm is brewing, especially since I don’t even like milk very much.

But, nevertheless, the rush of a “predicted” storm sends people into panic mode. They break out the survival skills and fill the fridge with necessities as if they will be snowed in for days.

Snow day panic mode is very similar to a journalist’s or writer’s looming deadline. We know it’s coming sometimes days or weeks before and we know what needs to be done, yet we don’t break out our survival skills until 10 minutes before closing time. Continue reading

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Proud to Sweat the Small Stuff

 If you know me well, you know how I fret over the little things. It irritates me when wet towels are left on the floor, when dishes are in the sink and my counters are cluttered.

 It irritates me when my newspaper students don’t even the text off at the end of each story or leave half-empty soda cans next to brand new Macs in the newsroom.

 It irritates me when periods are outside of quotation marks, when story leads don’t have a hook and when text is bold or italics within an article.

I sound neurotic already, but in my mind, the little things really do matter, no matter how much I get irritated. Continue reading

January 31, 2010 Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Parenting, Reflecting, Teaching, Writing | , , , , , , | 3 Comments