Wednesday, August 08, 2007

First Year Preparations

I figured I'd procrastinate on my novel a little bit by writing a short checklist of things to do for people about to start their programs, some of which I did, and some of which I wish I had done.

1. Write. Have a story or two ready to go, even if you're not going first. It relieves the pressure.

2. Go to school orientation things. It's one of the few opportunities you'll have to make friends with grad students outside your department before work and the semester kicks in.

3. Set up your living space. It's funny how hard that becomes once you get busy.

4. Meet with professors. Establish a pattern and rapport early on because it's harder to contact them later.

5. Find a routine, especially if you're moving. List the things that are important to you (for me it's a yoga studio, a cafe, and a sushi restaurant) and ask people where to find them.

6. hang out with your colleagues, but not too much. we learn from our peers, but how much learning can you really do while drunk off your ass every night?

7. value your time. it goes by quick. work as hard as you can, so you don't feel guilty taking breaks.

8. if you're teaching, set up your schedule to make sure you have free days just to write. make sure you get your grading done during your teaching days so you don't end up grading when you're supposed to be writing.

9. read a lot. consider throwing out your tv if you have one.

10. don't spend so much time on the internet! :)

additional thoughts from people who've been through their first year?


Sara said...

The first and last bits of advice are the ones I've already realized I SHOULD be following; and, of course, haven't been. Obviously, since I'm replying to this instead of toiling away at the keyboard.

Wendy Sumner-Winter said...

Another piece of advice: don't write what you think your workshop wants to read. By that I mean, don't try to anticipate their criticisms directly. Listen to them, write stuff down, but then move on. Remember, they're your peers. The workshop can be a wonderful learning experience, and it can be very stifling. Take it with a grain of salt.

M. Ramirez Talusan said...

sara, i totally thought you might be the sara who's coming to my program in the fall, but she spells her name with an h... the only reason for my recent rash of posts is because i'm home... i don't have internet in my apartment in ithaca. it helps.

and i totally agree with wendy... one of the poets in my program is deaf and sometimes i wish i had hearing aids to turn and off too.

Mike Valente said...

Thanks for your words of wisdom. Something like this would have been helpful upon starting undergrad and entering the working world!

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