If you don't have time to read the whole pitch, here are the 5 things you need to know:
- This book is for first year students who think they hate (or don't understand) academic (essay) writing
- Your support will allow me to print 150-200 copies
- The content is based on strategies I have used many times with students in the UK
- The books themselves will be printed locally, in as sustainable and eco-friendly a way as is possible with printing
- This book is also a piece of art, designed not at the computer, but as hardcopy, playing with collage and handlettering
What is this book about?
So you have to write an essay for university...?
- Ever considered designing a postcard that reminded you of your essay question, so that you wouldn't get sidetracked in your research?
- Ever thought about how referencing is like a forensic investigation?
- Ever thought about using collage to take notes that are useful to you rather than that just repeat what was said in the lecture?
- Ever thought of analysing the type of secondary sources you are using by likening them to different types of sea creatures?
- Ever thought about how quotations are like buttons?
This book introduces all these strategies and more, because essay writing isn't just about writing, it really is about research - finding evidence to back up what you are stating. So what might be billed as a 'writing' project at university really goes through many more stages than just reading a few books or websites and then summarising what you've found out in words.
Writing Essays by Pictures is a workbook for students new to academic writing. It uses visual analogies to explain all the bits that go into researching and writing at degree level - particularly those bits that often remain hidden to students at their first try. Going through the book step-by-step you are taken through the process of putting together your own research essay, not unlike a painting-by-numbers approach. Along the way there are spaces for you to doodle and write, making your copy uniquely your own. Writing Essays by Pictures explains the basics of academic research to the beginner - and to people who have always wished for a way to make these things more visual... and fun!
If you want to get a sneak peek of the text of the introduction - The Connect-the-Dots Revelation -, check out my blog here.
Where did the idea for Writing Essays by Pictures come from?
My day job is to teach essay writing to first year art, design and media students. Most of them see themselves as 'visual learners' and can get quite frustrated by having to write, because this is something that feels unfamiliar to them. My own background is design, so I can empathise to a certain degree, and I started coming up with little analogies to explain the processes that lie hidden behind research and writing at university. So the analogies and metaphors used in the book have all been tested, and while not all of them work for everybody, most of them do.
I realised that students were able to remember the visuals much more than the other types of explanations/instructions I would give them, but also that they didn't really follow through once they left my class. So there was very little of these basics applied to the next essay they were writing. This is why I decided to come up with a resource to make this easier for them. I'm really interested in Teaching and Learning support, and am fascinated by the different ways people learn, and have run workshops for colleagues all around the UK that focused on creative ways to explore academic practice. As part of these I have started a blog and also made some booklets that feature some of the ideas that made it into the book, but really those were aimed at staff. Now I wanted to develop resources that would be stand-alone (i.e. not need me there to explain them) and helpful to students. I decided to focus on two different approaches:
- for 'fast' learning, I started a blog with 'visual soundbites': short statements that are then concisely explained which have an image attached. This blog is currently under constructions here. The idea is that this is a dip-in-and-out resource, and while it may include some of the metaphors and analogies, it doesn't really provide that much linked up thinking, more tips and tricks.
- for 'slow' learning, I decided to write and design this book, providing a start to finish journey throughout the essay writing process. Something that the individual can get their teeth into and work through.
Both these resources are based on the same ethos, but they will hopefully be able to support students in different ways. So the Writing Essays by Pictures book is part of a larger idea.
What will my money do?
Your money will allow me to print and assemble 150-200 copies of the book.
I'm referring to it as a book, but it will really be more of a book/zine hybrid. It will look a bit like an A4 exercise book (so with a soft cover) from the outside, and the design has a very handmade feel about it, incorporating collage and hand-lettering. This is also due to the fact that I am not designing this on the computer but in hard-copy (I spend enough time at the computer as it is, plus I really want a look that is non-threatening and approachable - and that people want to customise themselves). The inside will be quite colourful because I am planning to risograph it. A risograph is a bit like a photocopier, but it prints with real inks that come in a number of colours. I'm planning to have each page in two colours, but use different combinations throughout the whole book. Because the risograph uses soya-based inks, this is a very green process, for example there is no heat involved because it is a wet printing process; I will be using recyled paper, too, so this project is as ecologically sustainable as possible.
What are you going to do with all these copies?
Well, some of them I'm going to give to the people who are supporting this project. Any 'leftovers' I'm going to sell to students and staff, people who are interested in trying it out.
This is really a test run. I know that these analogies and explanations work in class, but I have no idea whether they would work at home. So this is to give people the chance to try this workbook and give feedback - and then I will see whether there is demand out there to produce more (and if so what needs to be changed).
What will I get for my support?
There are two main rewards you can get: most importantly there is the book, so you will be able to get your very own issue of Writing Essays by Pictures, if you so choose. Some of the rewards also include some postcards, these are some of the images designed for the Writing By Pictures blog, printed as postcards, so tips and tricks of research and essay writing.
If you areinterested in the limited edition (and early enough to get one), you will get a special edition of the book, which I will bind by hand and customise, as well as number and sign - and this also includes an original print of one of the postcard designs.
If you are a teacher yourself, you might also be interested in the workshop packages, where not only do you get 10 copies of the book but I will also come to you (as long as it's in the UK) to do a workshop with either students or staff (or both) to introduce them to the Writing by Pictures approach. (Kickstarter doesn't allow me to give away more than 10 copies at a time, but if you need more than 10 for the workshop, you will be able to buy them at cost.) I have put September down as the delivery date, but really we would negotiate the timing of this individually. If you are not in the UK but interested in the workshops, please get in touch with me directly and we can see what we can work out - although in that case I will probably need help with travel expenses.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge for me is to squeeze this project into my free time - so will I be able to finish the design on time? As this is also a design project, and as such fun, I am confident that I can do this.
The other challenge is to do with the printing process, i.e. will I be able to find somebody who can print this in my timescale. I have a number of printers that are local to me that are options and I am exploring that at the moment. Worst case scenario is that the printing would take a little longer than I am expecting at the moment, so the delivery date would move slightly back. I am determined to get this finished before September though, so that it is ready to go for the next academic term.
- (30 days)