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The Intellectual Bronco

The Myth of Writer’s Block

Summer break is here! For most people that means vacations, delightful cool beverages, and endless sunshine. For graduate students, summer is a pleasantly warm period of time in which you are most likely doing similar things you were doing in the school year. However, summer is prime time to get ahead (or get started) on that thesis. Easier said than done, right? Well luckily for you, Bronco Finishline writing coach Mark Wood has some solid advice on the myth of Writer’s Block.


Most professional writers agree that Writer’s Block is a myth, one that is no doubt perpetuated through the articles and tips on how to beat it. But it’s been named, and so exists as a thing in writers’ minds. So the first strategy for beating Writer’s Block is to define it for what it is.

Writer’s Block is the name we give to the writer’s reluctance to work through difficulties that arise in the writing process.

By attributing our fear of tackling the complex writing problems to some bizarre malady, we render ourselves helpless to solve them. The better approach is to acknowledge that we will sometimes feel frustrated or intimidated by the work in progress, and to remain aware of the strategies we can use to get back on track.

Preventive Strategies

  • Write at the same time every day, if possible. A routine alerts your brain that it is time to go to work. If your schedule forces you to snatch hours and half hours when you can, create a mini-routine that will move you quickly into the process, such as five minutes of freewriting followed by focused work on a single paragraph.
  • Set gentle session goals. You’ll write consistently if you aren’t intimidated by the task, and your work will accumulate faster than if you do binge writing.
  • Allow the project to evolve organically. Your ideas are not going to present themselves to you in a straight line. Rather, you’ll find yourself developing an argument in one section, running out of words, and jumping to a different section. Follow that flow. Let yourself work from your point of excitement or knowledge. The links between the arguments will occur to you over the course of the writing. If you get ideas for another point before you have run out of steam on the argument you are working on, make some quick notes on the new idea and return to the writing, confident now that you have somewhere to go once you’ve exhausted the current line of thought.
  • Embrace the drafting process. Don’t try to be a perfectionist. You’ll improve the quality through your revisions, once you have a clear picture of what the final manuscript should look like.
  • Tackle the hard problems one piece at a time. Schedule this work in short stretches to avoid burnout. For these micro-projects, follow the same process listed above.
  • Let your director help you. You’ve already impressed her/him enough to agree to direct your project. Don’t be shy about sharing fragments of sections or chapters, as your director might be able to offer suggestions to help you advance that argument further. Conversely, if you avoid your director until you feel like you have something “worth sharing,” your level of stress will grow proportionally with the amount of time you’ve postponed contact. The more time elapsed, the greater will be the quality of what you think you have to show, until it finally becomes an impossible ideal to achieve.

Corrective Strategies

If you find yourself at the point where you are feeling overwhelmed and your writing has completely stalled, the following tips can help.

  • Reset. Take a break from the writing for a few days or a week. Go for a walk. See a movie. Get more sleep. Try not to think about the project at all.
  • Use the Graduate College Writing Center. Talking to a writing coach about your project can help you remember why you were passionate about it in the first place. Sharing pages can stimulate a dialogue that might generate new ideas.
  • Return to practicing the Preventive Strategies listed above.

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2018 Spring Commencement

On May 5th – for the first time ever – Boise State University hosted 2 graduation ceremonies! Combined, there was a record 1,966 students who participated in the commencement ceremonies which is kind of a big deal. Congratulations to everyone who graduated and if you weren’t able to attend, learn more about the record-breaking commencement and view some photos from the day!

graduation cap
3 master's graduates

a row of master's graduates seated
photo of commencement confetti

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Research Month

As April wraps up, we close the door on our second annual campus-wide celebration of Research Month! Whether at the graduate level or undergraduate level, research serves a vital role expanding our knowledge base and improving human life in a number of ways. Specifically for graduate students, we offered two events in April allowing students to highlight their talents and research.

As you likely know by now, the Three Minute Thesis competition challenges students to skillfully present their thesis in 3 minutes. It’s hard enough to write a thesis (believe me I know), let alone condense it into 3 minutes. This year we had 15 competitors, but only 3 could come out on top! Congrats to this year’s winners:

First Place – Sepideh Rastegar, Electrical and Computer Engineering – $500
Second Place – AuraLea Fain, Kinesiology – $300
Audience Choice – Nikki Cannon, Communication – $200

The Graduate Student Showcase featured more than 180 graduate student poster and arts presentations – including music performances, creative writing readings, art displays. View all the Showcase Award Winners.

student in graduate showcase

Drummer participates in Three Minute Thesis

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2018 Three Minute Thesis

thee minute thesis logo

3 Minutes. 180 seconds. That’s how long a few brave Boise State graduate students have to condense their thesis or dissertation research into an interesting and coherent presentation. Still confused on the concept of the Three Minute Thesis? Let me break it down for you:

The competition was developed by the University of Queensland and celebrates the research conducted by graduate students (always a good thing). Participants have just three minutes and one slide to present their thesis or dissertation topic and it’s significance (basically convince us why we should care). The competition cultivates student’s communication skills, and helps graduate students to explain their research in language a non-specialist audience can understand (people like me and maybe you). The 3MT competition is now held in over 200 universities across more than 18 countries worldwide (so it’s kind of a big deal).

The Boise State Three Minute Thesis Competition will take place on Tuesday, April 10th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. The event will be held in the Clearwater Building at City Center Plaza, Room 221. All are welcome to attend — the event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.

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Upcoming Events

This time of the year is busy and great. Busy because you are in the middle of the semester, and great because you can see the light at the end of the tunnel! In the midst of the busyness, it’s easy to forget about deadlines and events. Here is a list of upcoming events and dates to mark your on calendar!

  • March 16
    Last day to submit advisor-approved version of dissertation or thesis to the Graduate College for degrees to be awarded in May 2018.
  • April 9
    Last day to submit Application for Admission to Candidacy or Proposed Plan of Study for a Graduate Certificate form to the Graduate College for graduate degrees and certificates to be awarded in December 2018.
  • April 10
    *Three Minute Thesis Competition – Sign up to participate in the Three Minute Thesis: https://orgsync.com/140258/forms/306754
  • April 19
    *Graduate Student Showcase – Sign up to participate in the Showcase: scholarworks.boisestate.edu/gss_2018/

*All graduate students from all Boise State graduate programs are invited to participate in both events. Both events are free and open to the public. You can invite your alumni, friends, prospective students and current undergraduate students to these events.

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Valentine’s Day: Graduate College Edition

Unless you were in an underground bunker this week, you know that Valentine’s Day was recently celebrated in all it’s chocolate-covered flowery glory. While some people lovingly refer to the day as “Single’s Awareness Day,” we at the Graduate College saw an opportunity to showcase the day in the different light. If you go to Boise State, live in Boise, or have ever just visited here… you know that Boise is a hidden gem (ha gem, gem state – see what I did there?). In honor of the nationally celebrated day of love, we decided to share what some of our graduate students love most about all things Boise and Boise State. Enjoy!

Graduate students pictured with Valentine's Day hearts, #broncolove promotion

(Top to Bottom, Left to Right)

“I love Boise State because of the amount of time and effort professors put into ensuring success for their students. I’ve really enjoyed the sense of community that’s obtained while being a student here too.”
– Kim Tucker (Curriculum & Instruction-EdD)

“We love the friendly people in Boise and the tight-knit community.”
– Career Track MBA grad assistants, Blake Plaster (Business Administration-MBA) and Summer Norquist (Business Administration-MBA)

“I love Boise for its literary scene. I came here to study creative writing, and am excited to be able to talk craft with so many accomplished storytellers. These are my people!”
– Mark Wood (Creative Writing-MFA)

“I love Boise State because of how they have welcomed me with open arms.”
– Lexus Williams (Athletic Leadership-MAL)

“Boise feels like home, there is great community support here.”
– Christian Sengfelder (Kinesiology, Behavioral-MS)

“Our love for each other is only matched by our love for Boise State.”
– Mike and Zoey Henry (MSE-Phd and MSW)

“We love Boise because we were able to go to school together, be teammates and now get our masters degrees together. We’ve developed great friendships here too.”
– Former basketball players and sisters Brittney Pahukoa (Athletic Leadership-MAL) and Brooke Pahukoa (Kines-MK)

Who’s Runs the World? Grads(tudents)

PhD Comics

PhD Comics

Advisor: How’s research going, Cecelia?
Cecelia: Good. Here is a concise list of the things I need you to review and approve. I’m also including detailed notes and reminders as well as clear deadlines for each item on the list.
Advisor: Wait, who’s managing who here?
Cecelia: I’m managing to graduate.

Sometimes as graduate student, well who are we kidding — most times as a graduate student, it lands on your shoulders to stay in contact with your advisor and committee members. You’re busy… they’re busy… but ultimately you are responsible for the the success of your thesis or dissertation. Here are a few helpful hints and resources to help you stay accountable and on top of it:

  1. Be proactive –  set up a schedule with planned times to meet or at least check in with your advisor sporadically. If you don’t need the meeting for whatever reason, it’s easy to cancel!
  2. Be prepared – come to your meetings with content, research points, and/or structured questions that can guide the meeting.
  3. Be timely – if you have planned to come to a scheduled meeting with several fully fleshed out chapters, be sure to do so. In the interest of respecting everyone’s time, this one is a biggie.
  4. Be awesome – this one is pretty self-explanatory.
  5. If all else fails, you can use this handy Graduate Student and Advisor Checklist that streamlines points of discussion between you and your advisor.

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Graduate Spotlight

Special congratulations to our graduate spotlight student Karolin Marakool! Karolin was honored as the 2017 Winter Commencement Banner Marshal. She received her Masters of Business Administration, Online and was one of the 1,872 students who graduated this winter in Boise State’s 101st commencement ceremony. Based in Los Angeles, Karolin works for Capgemini as the Learning Experience Director for Global HR and Learning & Development. Karolin visited Boise for the first time when she flew in for graduation.

Check out Karolin’s Student Profile to learn more about her experiences in the online MBA program and how she successfully balanced working full-time and her studies. Congratulations again Karolin, and we wish you the best of luck in the future!

Winter Commencement at Taco Bell Arena

 

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Holiday Greetings

As the year winds down, we usually take time to remember what was awesome about this past year and what we most enjoyed. Here at the Graduate College we truly appreciate our graduate students and being able to take part your academic journeys! From all of us at the Graduate College to you, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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First-Year Students Pt. 2

Bronco Finish Line

If you are a first year grad student then you are close to completing your first semester *deep breath*… but it’s crunch time. Dead week and finals are right around the corner, and sometimes you need just a little extra help and a push to get you past the finish line. If that is the case, the Graduate College is here for you. We rolled out a brand new program called Bronco Finish Line that is a writing consultation service offered specifically for Boise State grad students. Bronco Finish Line is staffed by two current Creative Writing MFA students who are experienced writers that can also relate to the graduate student experience. If you have a need for some writing assistance before the eleventh hour strikes, make sure to sign up for a session!

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