Creative Inspiration for Thanksgiving Break

Pollner Professor Kevin Van Valkenburg sent his students off on Thanksgiving break with a hard deadline for a reported long form story on the first Monday back, but also with a piece of inspirational reading to help them cross the finish line.

Van Valkenburg, a staff writer for ESPN the magazine, has been showing his students the glories and pit falls of long form writing and deep reporting. His class has read several stories by Esquire writer and National Magazine Award-winner Chris Jones. For Thanksgiving break, Van Valkenburg sent his students Jones’ speech on his “Nine Rules for Creative Work.”

It’s application to journalism students struck me as wide enough, and its content compelling enough, to be worth sharing here. As students, it can often feel that classes outside of Journalism, along with the other pressures of University life, can get in the way of finding the time to do the excellent journalism we all aspire to.

Read Chris Jones’ speech:
Read Chris Jones’ speech:

This speech, which Jones gave at the Power of Storytelling international conference in Bucharest this past October, reinvigorated me at this difficult point in the semester, with deadlines and due dates piling up. He speaks on the value of hard work to any creative enterprise, including the craft of journalism.

Hopefully some readers of this blog will also find time to take in Jones’ advice over the next few days. And hopefully Professor Van Valkenburg will forgive me for sharing the secrets of his class with the greater online community.

If you have time for some longer reads, look for his work in Esquire’s archive. In Van Valkenburg’s class we read the incredulously well reported: “The Things That Carried Him”

By Andrew Graham