My New Media and Writing Lessons

My New Media and Writing Lessons

This fall, my media course returns in Burbank, Southern California’s Media City, with a new focus. Originally conceived as a workshop for predominantly self-employed artists in LA’s mid-Wilshire district, the 10-week course on social media functions as a media self-defense kit. I’ve re-formulated what was once a tutorial on essential ideas for general social media for branding, purposing and self-defense.

The Maximizing Social Media theme that rational social media is created, used and applied as the means to the end of one’s selfish pursuit of happiness remains. This means that students create, examine and discuss profiles, posts and campaigns on sites, apps and technology such as Tinder, Instagram and Snapchat as well as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Quora and Facebook. I also instruct the class in the origins of each company and impetus for startup in addition to success and acquisition, so a company’s motives, potential conflicts of interest and record of privacy also get attention, from Microsoft, Lynda.com and LinkedIn to Comcast, NBC Universal and Snapchat, for instance. But it’s not a business class, so one’s personal and professional profile and development come first.

This is why I’ve come to appreciate social media as a tool for self-defense. Bearing in mind the privacy implications of any among today’s tech tools, which is an important caveat (Edward Snowden advises against using Facebook at all, for instance), media which is social in purpose and origin can buttress one’s values, arguments, body of work, reputation and philosophy. Reasons why this might become necessary are rapidly changing in today’s world, thanks to changes in technology, work and the culture. Today’s dominant or trending catastrophe, fact or news cycle can be tonight’s opportunity for advancement, management of expectation or aversion of unwanted attention. I’ll engage students in this new exercise for the first time this fall in Maximizing Social Media. (Get details and register online for my Maximizing Social Media and Writing Boot Camp courses here).

Writing Boot Camp returns, too. With emphasis on my seven-step writing process, the 10-week course affords opportunities for each student to think, formulate, re-think, finalize, detail, research, draft, edit and read aloud new pieces of writing. Then, the student gets feedback. It’s called boot camp for a reason, so I engage the student in a serious endeavor to think hard and for longer periods than many of today’s adults may be accustomed to and there’s enough practice, repetition and participation to undergird what’s learned and gained.

Students also read, break down and study excerpts, stories and great works of literature. Among the short stories, articles, essays, authors and poems past boot camp enrollees have evaluated for topic, theme, research and outline are Berton Braley, “The Lottery”, Charles Darwin, Invictus, Maya Angelou, The Early Ayn Rand, Rudyard Kipling, Leanita McClain, “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and science fiction by Ray Bradbury (as well as some of my own unpublished short stories, blog posts and LA Times articles).

One of my recent boot camp “alumni” members, who enrolled and attended both of my courses, was employed by a Burbank studio as a talent scout. She recently announced on LinkedIn that she’s now a literary agent. Other past students have been published in poetry and story collections, do standup comedy and pitch pilots, movies and series to studios. Students have also been peace officers seeking to write clearer reports, lawyers, businessmen, immigrants studying English and entrepreneurs.

Next month’s course includes a new lesson integrating what I’ve learned from my 30 years of freelance writing. But, really, the whole Writing Boot Camp cashes in on that subject.

If these courses sound interesting, I invite readers to come to Southern California and attend the courses at the Henry Mingay campus near Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport. Class size is small and intimate. Tuition is low, thanks to Burbank Adult School, which pays for these courses entirely through the fees. Also, feel free to tell others and share this post, tag me on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and spread the word. Classes accept waiting lists when capacity is reached and I’m happiest teaching to a full classroom, so if you’re unable to attend, help me fill each class.

Summer School

Teaching continues this summer in Southern California. My six-week, general adult education Writing Boot Camp runs in night school. A new four-part course addresses today’s social media demands, such as building and safeguarding one’s reputation and putting pictures into a proper context, and using social media to advance one’s self-interest.

Register Now

The new series, Maximizing Social Media, and Writing Boot Camp, go from June to July in LA’s San Fernando Valley at the Henry Mingay adult education campus near Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (register online for Writing Boot Camp here and Maximizing Social Media here).

Maximizing Social Media is an intensive, all-new short course covering the essential principles of media management, including creating and cultivating your social network for maximum and premium value. Classes feature demonstrations, tutorials and screenshots of various social media apps and sites.

Register Now

Writing Boot Camp is an immersive study of the writing process in a certain progression of six steps. Students read what they write aloud in a collaborative, structured and purposeful classroom setting and each student’s writing is evaluated by yours truly with detailed notes and feedback. Each student who finishes either course is invited to join my new, closed adult education alumni groups on Facebook for networking and information about creative opportunities and resources and creative events such as the LA Times Festival of Books and TCM Classic Film Festival.

Additionally, and for the first time, I’m planning to teach seniors at Burbank’s Joslyn Adult Center. The city’s parks and recreation department asked me to build a media program on Mastering Social Media to help active older adults engage family, work and life. The three-part program includes: “Introducing Social Media” on June 7; “Understanding Social Media” on June 21 and “Activating Social Media” on June 28.

Joslyn Adult Center in Burbank, California

The first 90-minute workshop provides seniors—a segment of the population which I think is widely misunderstood and underestimated—with an orientation in social media essentials. The second session examines functionality on such apps and sites as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. The third and final workshop offers an opportunity for demonstration and personal instruction on social media accounts. Each session takes place at Joslyn Adult Center. To register, call (818) 238-5353. The Joslyn Adult Center, located in Burbank’s George Izay Park, is named for businessman Marcellus Joslyn, whose foundation funded its construction and capital projects.

Teaching adults, especially older adults—though young adults frequently enroll, too—is immensely rewarding. Writing is inherently introspective and solitary. The classroom is a wonderful place to instill, renew and affirm one’s lifelong contract to learn. Teaching what I know to some of LA‘s most engaged, productive and knowledgeable minds—mostly middle class working adults—is constantly enriching. Besides managing social media and various screenwriting, journalism and enterprise projects, I’ve enrolled as a student myself this summer in Turner Classic Movies’ online educational partnership with Ball State to study Alfred Hitchcock films. I also plan to attend Pittsburgh’s first Objectivist Conference.


Register for Writing Boot Camp

Register for Maximizing Social Media

Social Media and Writing Boot Camp

Social Media and Writing Boot Camp

This week’s job skills workshop, covering writing the perfect resume and cover letter and mastering the job interview, will be held in the auditorium at Burbank Unified’s adult school campus near Bob Hope Airport at 10:00 am this Friday, August 26. I’m excited to teach this new class, which the director asked me to create to help people find rewarding work.

The theme of this 90-minute class is that looking for work in today’s market requires explicit assessment, awareness and positive assertion of one’s record, experience and philosophy of work.

MSOSM BPL anchored 8:22:2016

Social media workshop 8/16 | Burbank Public Library | Photo by Jeffrey Falk

Feedback from Monday’s workshop in social media, which I delivered in downtown Burbank, was constructive. One of my students suggested adding thematic detail to title slides, a good suggestion which I plan to incorporate, and I’m told that the LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter screenshots were helpful. Attendance at the Burbank Public Library-sponsored event exceeded my expectations and audience questions were sharp, serious and insightful.

This area north of Los Angeles is a diverse economic mix of artists, entrepreneurs, professionals and crew that represents the Southern California industrial blend of media, movies, technology, retail and manufacturing. I covered a wide scope of functions and editorial best practices in major social media and I was impressed by how attentive and knowledgeable today’s readers and communicators are about the nuances, details and complications of branding one’s presence on social media.

"Making Sense of Social Media" 8/22/2016 | Burbank Public Library

Social media workshop 8/16 | Burbank Public Library | Photo by Jeffrey Falk

I plan to add aspects of this class to this fall’s 10-week course on social media, which starts on September 12 (follow this fall’s All About Social Media on Facebook here). Space is limited, so if you’re in Southern California, sign up because the course is filling up. The new fall course includes live demonstrations and tutorials in social media. Computer laboratory instruction for each student’s social media profile(s) is an optional part of the fall program this semester, too, so expect to get individual attention with emphasis on how to improve what you’ve made or want to make. Look for updated lessons based on the newest trends, tools and failures, including experience from my projects, campaigns and branding. From Joss Whedon quitting Twitter after negative reviews for Tomorrowland to Brian Williams losing his stature and Robin Williams‘ daughter Zelda Williams reclaiming social media as her own domain, my course covers today’s terrain.

To register for All About Social Media go here.

This course is an editorial orientation. In other words, this is not a course on every detail or feature of Instagram, Twitter or YouTube. My approach instructs the student in how to engage social media based on one’s goals, values and self-interest while exploring certain uses, tools and functions.

WritingBootcamp

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The same premise goes for my fall 2016 Writing Boot Camp, which breaks writing into progressive steps, from before writing begins to after completion of the first draft. Writing Boot Camp includes spot and assigned writing and notes. Course subjects include habits, resources and immersion in writing as an art and as a science.

Selecting the format, designating the topic and formulating a theme are studied and both writing and editing are practiced, both one on one as well as in collaboration with other students in class. Students are asked to read aloud. The 10-week series is based on what I have learned and fundamentally grounded in my professional writing background. I am enthusiastic about Writing Boot Camp. I plan to introduce the course’s first guest speaker, a published author of dozens of books, this coming fall, too.

Register for Writing Boot Camp here and follow the course on Facebook.

Who enrolls in an adult writing course? Poets, screenwriters, published authors and anyone seeking to achieve clarity in writing. Students are entertainment industry executives, songwriters, police officers, lawyers, teachers and entrepreneurs. Certain students attend for general knowledge and practice in a disciplined approach. Others seek to refuel the creative supply through my encouraging immersion in the art and business of storytelling.

Writing Boot Camp starts on September 15. Both courses are held at Burbank Adult School near Bob Hope Airport. However, if you’re unable to attend and you want help, I am available by appointment, video or telephone. Contact me for details.

Fall Courses & Workshops

Here’s a roundup of my new communications studies this summer and fall.

Breaking writing into progressive steps, from before the writing begins to after you’ve completed the first draft, whether a screenplay, manuscript or blog post, Writing Boot Camp features assigned and spot writing opportunities and my detailed feedback. Course topics include pre-writing habits, tips, tools and resources and immersion in writing as an art and science. I instruct in selecting the format, designating a topic and formulating the theme of what you aim to write. Writing and editing are studied, examined and practiced, both one on one as well as in collaboration with the class. Students are tasked with active thinking, writing and reading aloud. So, it’s called boot camp for a reason. I introduced the course last year after creating a 90-minute workshop on assignment and, while it is structured based on what I have learned in classes I’ve attended, the course is proprietary and fundamentally grounded in my own professional writing experience. I’m enthusiastic about the new material and I hope to have my first guest instructor, a published author of dozens of books, this coming semester. I plan to expand Writing Boot Camp in the future (follow the fall course on Facebook here).

WritingBootcamp

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Who takes the adult education course? Everyone from screenwriters, poets and published authors to police officers trying to improve clarity in reports and lawyers, doctors and other professionals. Past students include songwriters, teachers and entrepreneurs, also a studio executive in charge of writing talent, a social media manager aiming to improve his storytelling and a celebrity actor’s manager seeking to better ascertain quality scripts. Some students come for acquiring knowledge and practice in a disciplined approach. Others seek to replenish a creative supply through immersion with other writers in an encouraging, guided environment. Register for this fall’s Writing Boot Camp, which starts on September 15 near Los Angeles, by going to the link included here.

My social media series starts that week, too (follow this fall’s All About Social Media on Facebook here). Space is limited for both of these 10-week courses, so if you’re in Southern California, mark your calendar and sign up soon as enrollment has started and both courses are filling up. Improving the social media course based on student feedback, I make time for new, live demonstrations and tutorials and plans for computer laboratory instruction. I want to include guest instructors for this course, too, and I’ve already updated lessons based on the latest social media trends, tools and failures, including experience from my own client projects, campaigns and branding.

The course remains a general orientation to social media with emphasis on best editorial practices, so I want to be clear that this is not a course on every feature of Instagram or Facebook. This approach leads to interesting exchanges as you can imagine. Students often come expecting me to tell them what to do in each part of the social media experience. But, as advanced users know, you learn by doing, too, and trial and error is integral to mastering new technology. Also, the downside of social media stems from plunging in without purpose, direction or clarity in one’s highest goals, which feeds drift, distraction and aimlessness. So, I’m careful to instruct students in how to guide social media based on their own decisions while pointing to certain uses and specific features. Past students include adults who want to know more about this amorphous new industry, from filmmakers and artists seeking a better grasp of distribution means to grandparents, activists and merchants seeking to better connect, persuade and cash in. To register for All About Social Media go here.

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Touch/click for details of “Making Sense of Social Media”

Additionally, I’ve been asked to help individuals who are looking for work, so I’ve created a new 90-minute workshop on writing the resume and mastering the job interview. This one-time class is scheduled at the adult school for August 26 and it’s free to the public (details below). So is another one-time 90-minute class I’m giving on social media in downtown Burbank on the upsides and downsides of social media. “Making Sense of Social Media” also examines a range of recent social media examples, trends, success and failure.

Go here for details and here to follow “Making Sense of Social Media” on Facebook.

All About Social Media
Tuition: $89
Burbank Adult School
Mondays, 6pm-8pm
Sept 12-Nov 14, 2016
Call to register: (818) 558-4611

Writing Boot Camp
Tuition: $89
Burbank Adult School
Thursdays, 6pm-8pm
Sept 15-Nov 17, 2016
Call to register: (818) 558-4611

Free Workshops

Making Sense of Social Media
7pm-8:30pm
Monday, August 22, 2016
Burbank Public Library, Central Branch
Downtown Burbank, California | FREE admission

Jobs, Resume & Interviews
Writing the Resume
Mastering the Job Interview
10am-11:30am | FREE admission
Friday, August 26, 2016 at Burbank Adult School | Call to register: (818) 558-4611

Of course, let me know if you are unable to attend the classes, which are offered in downtown Burbank at the library and at the Henry Mingay campus of Burbank Adult School near Bob Hope Airport. Otherwise, if you want help, I can probably work with you remotely or meet if you’re in LA. Contact me to schedule a private session. Follow my events on Facebook and feel free to connect and follow on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Spring Books and Movies and a New Summer Course

Enrollment in my writing course for adults doubled this semester, so I’ve been invited to teach a summer course. The weekly Thursday night class in general writing begins in June and runs through mid-July. I also teach a summer course on social media.

I will add summer registration links. In the meantime, both courses this spring have been enhanced to include new readings, demonstrations and material. In the writing course, I’ve incorporated study of writings by Rudyard Kipling, Shirley Jackson, William Ernest Henley, Ray Bradbury and O. Henry. Students read their work aloud in class this week and next week’s class features a lesson on resources, including books about writing based on lectures by my favorite writer, Ayn Rand, who wrote bestselling fiction and non-fiction for stage, screen, print, broadcasting and literature. Rand additionally wrote for journals, newspapers and for certain editions of books by Leonard Peikoff and Victor Hugo.

BurbankAdultSchoolAyn Rand’s lectures on writing were adapted for two outstanding volumes, The Art of Fiction and The Art of Non-Fiction. For motivation, I suggest reading screenwriter Brian Koppelman’s 202 Practical Writing Tips, which are excellent. Proper writing practices are also addressed in All About Social Media, which offers an essential guide to creating, using and maximizing Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (contact me if you have any questions). These general courses are for personal enrichment and students represent a range of personal and professional interests. This semester includes the usual mixture of musicians, actors, writers and entrepreneurs and also an engineer, an attorney, a chiropractor and a studio executive, so the environment is relaxed, studious and inclusive. Classrooms have free wifi and courses include my visual presentations. The campus is located near Bob Hope Airport.

This spring’s Festival of Books at University of Southern California’s campus is on my agenda this week and, later this month, I plan to attend an event in Santa Monica featuring Objectivist co-author Don Watkins on his new book. I’m reading a novel by the late John O’Hara that Robert Benton recommended to me and I look forward to reading a new book by Georgetown University scholar Randy Barnett on the Constitution (for HarperCollins with a foreword by George Will). I finished filmmaker Mike Binder‘s exciting first novel, a political thriller set in London (for Macmillan’s Henry Holt and Company). I plan to post a review.

Besides my contract work, I’m entering stories in competitions and studying, developing and exploring new projects, which takes time. I plan to return to Turner Classic Movies’ Classic Film Festival in Hollywood this month for new insights and interviews on motion pictures. I’ve recently enjoyed several movies with good scripts—Zootopia‘s the best film in theaters and I recommend the new movie about Hank Williams, I Saw the Light, Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition (expanding soon) and The Weinstein Company’s wonderful musically-themed 80s film Sing Street, opening soon—and I look forward to the new Jungle Book picture by Jon Favreau based on Kipling’s tales. A sneak preview I saw at Disneyland last week looks terrific.