2013-Participant-Square-Button.pngNovember is coming, and that means that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is coming, as well. NaNoWriMo is a month-long challenge each November to write a 50,000 word imperfect novel in 30 days. Learn more at the National Novel Writing Month website.

The payoff? Kicking to the curb that nasty internal editor that keeps us from creative fluency.

Where to find the time? Prioritize homework and studying (or grading) but shelve other activities for November (e.g., I'm giving up Facebook for NaNoWriMo).

November is always a very busy month at MSOE, and if you are particularly organizationally challenged or are struggling to catch up with important studying and academic projects, you might want to save NaNoWriMo for another year. However, if you feel on top of your school work and have a story in you that needs to see the light of day, this might be the time. Also, remember that you will have a week between quarters in November when you can play word count catch up, if you need to.

If you are interested, please join the MSOE NaNoWriMo group (http://www.msoe.edu/groups/msoe-nanowrimo) where we can share NaNo usernames (mine is one to die for, I promise), cheer each other on (I need encouragement to finish this challenge after several unsuccessful attempts), share tips, and, on December 1st, celebrate our success!

Kerning.pngDo you love design? Typography? If so, you'll want to check out these fun, short learning games by Method of Action:

  • Kern Type: "A game that will help you understand letter spacing and kerning"
  • Shape Type: "Learn how to manipulate bézier curves and get a typography lesson at the same time"


To learn more about kerning and typography, visit John Boardley's beautifully designed blog, I Love Typography.

Email.pngI am an email hoarder. I admit it. The proof is in my gmail account, which reads "9.26 GB (61%) of 15 GB used."

That is a lot of email. Some of it is junk that I'm in the process of deleting, but much of it I want to keep. It's just that when my unread messages hit triple digits—many of those messages, by the way, I read but then marked unread as a way to know I need to revisit them—it's time for some serious email intervention, if only for my peace of mind.

Here are some techniques that work well, when I take the time to use them: setting up filters for emails that I don't need to read right away (e.g., blogs I subscribe to), being ruthless about unsubscribing to promotional emails, and once a month going to "inbox zero," even if it means sweeping armfuls of emails into an "under the bed" folder.

But let's face it: cleaning up email is no more fun than cleaning one's dorm or house, which is why Jesse Stommel offers a couple of creative ways to "gamify" the process in his recent Profhacker post, "How to Crowdsource and Gamify Your E-mail":

"I processed all the e-mail to zero and managed to figure out what I had to do the next day in the process. Then, just for fun, I did 'Thursday' before moving on to more topical queries. I announced my new game on Facebook and Twitter and folks began to join in the fun by throwing queries my way like 'budget,' 'legislature,' 'DH,' and 'zombie'. My personal favorite was 'pudding'.. Read More

Here is one final reminder for students: You may not want to check or be in the habit of checking and replying to email regularly, but it is a necessary habit and skill both at school and on the job. Most important, keep an eye on your MSOE email capacity and clean it up regularly so that your full inbox doesn't reject that one important message from a professor about what will be on next week's midterm exam.

What creative email strategies work for you?