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Writer’s Toolbox 2020-2021

Explore Your Creative Side!

Polish Your Skills!

Learn Something New!

The Writer’s Toolbox examines different facets of the written and spoken word, introducing techniques and considerations that are both central to each topic and transferable to others. Taught by the staff of Princeton Writes and guest instructors from across our University community, these two-hour workshops are designed to help you become a more versatile and persuasive communicator. All sessions are held in the Tilghman Classroom, Room E08, Dillon Court East, unless otherwise specified.

Once enrollment opens, anyone with a Princeton netID may register by visiting the University’s Learning Center and selecting the Princeton Writes workshop(s) in which you are interested. If you find these workshops to be full, please join the waiting list, not only to take advantage of cancellations but also to help us gauge the level of interest in re-offering them.

Spring Semester Workshops to Be Online

Enrollment to Open Monday, February 1, 2021, at 10:30 a.m.

In compliance with health and safety guidelines designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, Princeton Writes will not be able to offer in-person instruction this winter and spring.  While there is no substitute for the camaraderie and interactivity that our classroom fosters, professional growth can also take place online, and we are pleased to present the workshops below over Zoom between February 11 and May 20.

We hope these workshops will help you strengthen both your communication skills and your ties with one another at a time when these skills and ties have never been more critical. To ensure a positive online experience for all, we will limit enrollment to eight individuals per workshop and, in the interests of access, offer each workshop twice.

Please register, as usual, through the University’s Learning Center. A Zoom link will be sent to you on the day preceding the workshop.

Spring Semester Workshops

Welcome to the Orange Bubble: Finding Princeton’s Voice

As campus communicators, every sentence we write represents this great University. Whether communicating with an audience on campus or off, the words we use and the phrasing we choose matter to how Princeton is perceived. So how do we get the “voice” right? Is it lofty and erudite, or is it down-to-earth and to-the-point? In this workshop, we’ll explore how the Princeton voice is remarkably malleable to fit the needs of our community. We will discuss the range of that voice, from classy to sassy, and how you can channel it in your communications from the mundane to the major. Instructors: Dan Day, Director of Operations, Office of the Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs, and John Weeren, Director, Princeton Writes

February 11, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
February 25, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Connection, Not Perfection: An Introduction to Public Speaking

The ability to speak effectively in public is a critical but seldom taught skill. Neglect is often compounded by anxiety, but with practice and guidance, public speaking can be an exhilarating experience for both speaker and listener. This workshop emphasizes the importance of forging a connection with your audience rather than achieving oratorical perfection. It explores 10 ways of enhancing your oral presentations, from the organization of your content to your method of delivery, with the ultimate goal of expressing yourself more confidently and persuasively at Princeton and beyond. Instructor: John Weeren, Director, Princeton Writes

March 4, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
March 18, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

How to Talk to Strangers: Techniques of People-Centered Interviewing

The veteran journalist Barbara Walters famously said that “when you’re interviewing someone, you’re in control. When you’re being interviewed, you think you’re in control, but you’re not.” In this workshop, we will approach the professional interview in a less combative, more constructive light—not as a struggle for control but as an interaction in which all parties wish to speak and be heard. We will explore several models of interviewing and the situation(s) in which each model tends to be most effective, always with an eye towards people-centered communication that makes both interviewer and interviewee feel comfortable and understood. We will address common interviewing pitfalls, such as leading questions or awkward silences, and brainstorm ways to anticipate these issues ahead of time as well as respond to them in the moment. Finally, we will pair up and conduct a series of short interviews with each other on a friendly and professional topic. Instructor: Elizabeth Durham, Senior Graduate Fellow, Princeton Writes

March 11, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
March 25, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Good Catch! Editing Your Work and Others’

To be successful, every writer must also be an editor. Our brains are more nimble than our fingers, compensating for mistakes that only the closest reading will uncover. Automated grammar and spelling checks are far from foolproof and provide no help when it comes to questions of tone, concision, and persuasiveness. This workshop will discuss best practices when editing your own and others’ work, highlighting what to look for and how to increase the odds of finding it. You will then have an opportunity to hone your skills by editing a document that cries out for help. Instructor: Stephanie Whetstone, Assistant Director, Princeton Writes

April 8, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
April 29, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Advocacy Communications: How to Get Your Voice Heard

At Princeton’s 2019 Commencement ceremony, we heard President Eisgruber speak of everyday virtues such as civility, truthfulness, due process, and moderation as being the “indispensable foundation for any democratic society.” However, in recent years, we have been witness to the apparent demise of respectful public discourse from the highest levels of government on down. In the midst of the soundbite and Twitter culture in which we now live, there is all the more need for methods of communicating a point of view with more substance and nuance and less vitriol. A well-written letter to the editor or op-ed remains a powerful tool to educate, advocate, and mobilize. A persuasive letter to a public official can trigger more than just a form letter response. This workshop will share effective methods of advocacy communications. Instructor: Maura Fennessy, Government Relations Specialist, Office of Public Affairs

April 22, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
May 20, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

When Life Becomes Art: How to Create a Compelling Personal Essay

Have you ever tried to write about a life-changing experience or special moment but couldn’t get it onto the page? Whether you want to speak out about an issue, capture your favorite family stories, or enter the Princeton Writes Staff Essay Contest, this workshop can help you get started. We will pick up tips from some of the great essays of our time, dust off our own creative writing skills, and learn how to build a memorable personal essay. In this workshop, we will stare down the dreaded blank page and get some ideas on paper! Instructor: Stephanie Whetstone, Assistant Director, Princeton Writes

May 6, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
May 13, 2021, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.