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Writing Journal Entries on Workplace Experience: A Guide


Objectives: Upon successful completion of this assignment, students will be able to: Write journal entries about workplace experiences Write about the process involved in creating a work place identity Edit a journal entry and rewrite it as a short story or short memoir in the form of journal entries Instructions: 1. Start this assignment by composing several journal entries about workplace experiences you have had, or have heard about, focusing on people or events you may have found entertaining or disturbing. a. Treat each as a separate entry in a journal, just a paragraph or so, as if you were writing them at the time these events happened. b. You are looking to capture moments of interesting workplace experiences; while they share this common theme, do not be too concerned about connecting them together at this point. c. It is best to write as many of these as you can, so getting started early is important. You will not use every entry you write, so the more you generate as a foundation, the more you will be draw together into the next part of the assignment. 2. Once you feel comfortable in writing diary entries about work, and have generated several about those you have experienced or perhaps have heard about, you should be ready to write a fictional short story or a short memoir, as in several journal entries, preferably shaped around one theme. Here are some approaches to this exercise to help you: a. The most direct way to approach this assignment is to recall a turning point, crisis, or climax at your workplace: i. Explain in a journal entry to yourself (as the reader) the build up to this event and then the outcome. ii. Include details of the people involved, including yourself. iii. As you write, you will see how you are creating a workplace persona. Without making a conscious effort, you will be writing about yourself from the vantage point of observer. b. For some writers, however, journal writing is awkward. If you like to write short stories, look at your journal entries and reshape them as a short story or think up an entirely new situation, such as imagining someone in a new job or beginning a job as an entry position in the workplace, and make your experiences (as captured in your journal), theirs. c. You will want to refine or narrow your workplace theme. Some topics to approach would be bullying, successes, failures, embarrassments, or moments when you learned how to do a job. d. The point of view in the journal entries is your own, but in the short story you can write as an observer of someone else in a workplace situation. e. Keep in mind that you are producing a fictionalized work based on real observations you have made; the people you meet at work are much like characters in fiction, and can be described in the same detail or treated as partly projections of your own imagination. You could work with the appearance of someone you know at work and then show the reality of that person's behavior. f. By now in the course you have read short stories, some about the lives of others and some based on the personal experience of the writer (as in The Circuit). You might want to use one of these stories as a point of inspiration. g. Posing questions as you read and write is as important in this assignment as in assignment #2. You might start with a list of questions around your own workplace identity and how that might be the same or different as the one you have with family and friends. h. Viewing workplace as a site of learning can be useful. What did you learn from a particular experience at work? How did your attitudes to your boss and to others change? i. If you are writing direct fiction (rather than partially fictionalized diary entries), you might wish to use a basic plot pattern that leads a character from innocence to experience. 3. The short story or fictionalized memoir you produce should have an APA style title page for the story or memoir, and be double-spaced and pages numbered. 4. There is not a “correct” word count for this sort of writing, but do remember that while it should have a properly developed beginning, middle and end, and must effectively draw the reader into the characters and experiences you are describing, it is still a ‘short’ story. Use the short stories you have read in the course as a guide in this regard.

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