Finding Time For Independent Research & Writing

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OrtizBy Jenny Ortiz

There is no doubt that Freeway Flyers are good at multi-tasking, but I’ve found that when I’m in the middle of the semester I lose sight of my own work. My background is in creative writing, and aside from teaching I write fiction as well as this blog. Most, if not all, freeway flyers are still active within their disciplines in addition to teaching multiple classes.

However, finding time to write isn’t easy. When I have paperwork to hand into the deptartment as well as student essays to grade, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour or two writing or revising my own work. While I’m always looking for ways to run my semester more smoothly, I’m also looking for ways to stay energized about my own independent research. Here are some strategies I’ve found to be useful in order to motivate me into doing my homework.

The Weekend Edition

Getting my work done before Friday afternoon gives me the weekend to relax, enjoy time with my friends and family, and write! There is a time at the end of the week designated for me to spend time with my craft. I have a lot of responsibilities, but taking the weekend out for my personal work as well as my personal relationships allows me to refocus and come back on Monday refreshed.

Class in Session

Freeway Flyers  have a great advantage in that they get to interact with peers within their discipline on various campuses. Given that I work with many of the people I graduated my MFA program with, I always find time within the semester to talk to them about books, writing and, most times, we’ll swap drafts. Creating a community of writers gives me a new perspective in my writing. I’m no longer sitting alone in my office staring at my laptop; now, I’m  hearing other people’s opinions and thoughts about a piece that might have been giving me trouble.

Copy Machine is the New Watercooler

Any time one of my stories is published, any time I’m having a reading, or I write a new awesome Freeway Flyer blog, I post a little piece of it by the copy machine. Everyone uses the copy machine and everyone tends to stare at the wall while they wait for their copies. Why not stare at my writing? Granted, I tack up my work everywhere: the faculty lounge, the bulletin boards around the deptarment, the Chairperson’s door…I’ve also been known to slip my work into the mailboxes. Will all thirty adjuncts read my work? No, but some might and they always come to me with comments. Good or bad, I feel motivated to write because I have a reading base that has questions and concerns.

The Main Event

I tend to forget that as a Freeway Flyer, I have access to three campuses that love showcasing the arts. I’m in the midst of getting a reading together for my fellow adjuncts who graduated the MFA profram with me. It’s a great way for my students, my peers, and former professors to see the work I’ve been doing. Again, it’s a great way to get my work out to a larger amnd more diverse group, while also keeping me active within my craft. A colleague of mine recently had his play performed at LaGuardia; he was allowed to showcase something he’d been working on for a while and also it generated in him the desire to continue writing. If I have the venues, why not create art?

As a faculty member in a college setting, I believe it’s my job to not only teach my students the required material, but to also show them that learning doesn’t stop when they graduate. To be a better teacher, I have to be a strong pillar within my craft.

How do you juggle your research/writing and teaching? Any tips that can help me keep on top of my writing?

About the Freeway Flyer: Jenny Ortiz is a quite serious 23-year-old New Yorker, except when unicorns (specifically chubby unicorns) are involved. When she isn’t pleading with Kurt Sutter via Twitter to be her mentor, she is teaching at St. John’s University, Adelphi University, and LaGuardia Community College (see, quite serious). When she isn’t teaching, she’s hanging out with her friends showing off  earth and water bending skills (not serious, but super fun).  When she is alone and it’s raining, she likes to read Haruki Murakami, or listen to the Broken Bells and daydream.  If you want to be a fan, you can read Jenny’s work on fictionatwork.com, Blink-ink.com, Jersey Devil Press, dogeatcrow.com, Eighty Percent Magazine, InkSpill Magazine and Fair Trade Journal. Recently, she was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Award… you can follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/jnylynn.

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