Tag Archives: office

Practical Classes for Writers

It’s back to school time for most people, and while I value my college education, I can’t help but feel that the writing curriculum they provided didn’t necessarily prepare me for the real world.

Of course I took the basics for academic, creative and professional writing, but technical skills aside, they failed to address the more “realistic” aspects of being a writer.


So with that said, I have proposed a few more practical classes that all aspiring writers should be required to take.

Textual Dysfunction

This introductory prerequisite will tackle the perennial problem of writer’s block and the five stages every writer will go through. Along with preparing the student for the emotional trauma of textual dysfunction, several creative writing exercises will be performed in an effort to facilitate creative expression — including how to explain to friends and family that your blog/novel is not based on them, even though it probably is.

Emotional Exfoliation

Learn to brush off those who don’t realize your obvious genius and hope your skin grows back thicker, because whether you’re a creative writer, a technical writer or a blogger (extra credit if you’re a blogger), you will get rejected many more times than not. Participants will learn to go from query and submission to dealing with the “nice no,” the “hell no” and the “what the hell do they know?” of rejection.

However, everyone is also asked to gather up their rejection letters to use for decoupaging a complimentary flask as part of art therapy offered as a follow-up course.

Narcissism in the Age of the Internet

Attendees will be given the tools needed to make their tweets fake trophy-worthy, their Facebook updates ring with confidence/insecurity and their selfies flattering in the light of the bathroom. They will also be given tips on how to buy fans/followers and Photoshop their profile pictures to an almost unrecognizable image.

Workspace Feng Shui

It’s important that writers create a comfortable environment when waiting for inspiration to hit. Learn to prioritize these tasks, such as what size Post-Its to write your to-do list on, where that plant looks best, color organization of pens, snack drawer replenishment and paperclip sculpture and art.

Professional Courtesy

Often writers are tasked with working in an office setting. In this course, students will learn the basics to avoid creating a hostile work environment, such as: never “replying all” to an email, both changing and replacing the paper towel roll and trash bag in the office kitchen and washing dirty dishes instead of placing them NEXT to the sink in hopes the imaginary maid will do it.

In addition, flashcards will be created with phrases like, “Weekend was great!” “Weather is wonderful!” “Can’t believe it’s Monday!” in an effort to cut down on generic coworker chit-chat.

Typo Trauma 101*

Play it off as funny? Run away and start a new life? Learn how to deal with the angst of finding a typo more than .5 seconds after something has been posted or published somewhere you can’t go back and edit.

*The support group will meet immediately after this session. Carbs will be provided.

Seeing as most writers are introverted attention hounds who just want to be left alone, graduation ceremonies would be held online where participants could submit their best work for a round of social media “likes” from the comfort of their couch.

Now that’s a class I could go for.

Here’s your homework: What class would you add to the list for your job?

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Sorry, It’s Occupied

There are many things that can be said about working in an office. For better or for worse, you are forced to interact with people on a daily basis that you probably wouldn’t choose to hang out with on the weekends.

But at the end of the day, you smile and nod because you know that unlike family, at least you’re getting paid to interact with these people. What you’re not getting paid to do is become knowledgeable about their bathroom habits, but  that comes with the territory.


My office is small in that we only have about 20 people who work there, with nine women on my end. There is a bathroom for each sex located towards the front of the office, and each bathroom has two stalls. Every time someone goes into the bathroom, you can hear the door open and shut and the light and fan go on simultaneously.

This is an important detail to my story.

You see, there are certain unwritten rules, at least with the women’s bathroom. Despite the fact that there are two stalls, every woman who uses the bathroom goes in and locks the main door. (And for some reason, I also lock the stall door when I go.)

Anyway, if I walk by the bathroom and light is shining under the door, I know that the door will be locked and that someone is in there. No one ever goes and leaves the light on when they leave, because that would signal to the outside world that someone was still in there. That results in someone (me) pretending to walk somewhere else and do a lap around the office just to keep an eye on the door.

When new people come in, they must be initiated to this process.

As I mentioned above, if the light is on, one does not proceed. However, if the light is on for an inordinate amount of time, suspicions arise and one (me) must investigate. Reaching for the bathroom door and finding it unlocked when the light is already on makes me suspicious, and when I enter and find no one in the tiny bathroom, I continue to look around as if they’re hiding in the cabinet under the sink.

It’s just not natural, and I think in the four and a half years that I’ve worked there I’ve only been in the bathroom with another person once or twice. I also believe that was during a tornado warning.

At any rate, with that unwritten rule established, I feel compelled to add in a few more of my own, as I’m sure there are a some things that apply to all office bathrooms in some way.

  • Despite the fact that there are only nine women in the office, it seems that whenever I head for the bathroom, someone else will be headed there at the same time. This results in the “No, you go ahead” back-and-forth that is both tedious and awkward. You want to go, but you don’t want to be rushed. You want to be polite, but you’ve gotta go.
  • Related to that, I hate being the “next” person to use the bathroom after someone has completely disrespected the toilet and any olfactory senses. The air freshener really does nothing but make it smell like shitty “Country Meadows,” and when I come out (after holding my breath and quickly doing my thing) to find someone else waiting, I always want to point out that it wasn’t me. I don’t do this, but I want to.
  • Finally, although the general level of cleanliness is far greater than that found at the gym, there are still times I wonder if someone completely emptied a hairbrush or decided to give themselves a sponge bath in the sink. Plus, it’s kind of amazing how people will go to great lengths to NOT replace the toilet paper, hand soap or paper towel, leaving one small square or drop for the next person to handle.

I suppose if I left the door unlocked, I could catch them in the act. However, I’m not willing to break that rule.

Sorry, it’s occupied.