How Campus Ministry Writes

Beth Forth McNamee
Assistant Director of Campus Ministry

Quick Facts

Pen or Pencil?

Favorite word?

Favorite music to write to?
88.5 WXPN

Favorite punctuation mark?

SJU Writes: Can you describe the kind of writing that your job entails?
BFM: I like to make connections between Philadelphia and Camden partnerships, students, and faculty at SJU. So I write in a way that is inclusive and mostly through email. I do a lot of social media posting which forces you to distill your message clearly. Occasionally I’ll do journalistic writing for the [Campus Ministry] newsletter and the handouts for the Mass. I’ve also written for the Ignatian Solidarity Network and the Hawk.

SJU Writes: When you are confronted with a writing task, how do you approach it?
BFM: Emails, I just write. If it’s a little more formal, like an announcement to the university, I’ll have it sit in my draft folder for a little while. I’ll proofread it a million times. If it is something I have to generate that is more substantial, I’ll keep an electronic document, and I take time to brainstorm. I usually write the piece below where I wrote all of my brainstorming, and I’ll refer back to it. If it is something that’s being published, I will usually have other people look at it.

SJU Writes: So what I’m gathering is, that it’s a continuous process? You don’t simply sit down, and finish it in one sitting?
BFM: No—I taught as an adjunct for four semesters, and I could tell when students sat down and finished assignments in one sitting. It reads like a stream of consciousness. I strongly discourage that.

SJU Writes: Is there a particular book or article that has influenced your writing?
BFM: Reading so much fiction over time really influenced me. I read a lot of journalistic writing and some academic pieces. The more that I read, the more I have a sense of what my writing should look like.

SJU Writes: Do you have a particular favorite book?
BFM: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It talks about writing and about life.

SJU Writes: Is there a particular environment that you do your best writing in?
BFM: I don’t have a lot of writing routines at this point in my life; I feel like having a small child will take that from you. I do love a good space. I do great work in the morning—it’s when I’m at my best. I definitely need coffee. Otherwise, a good table, bright sunlight, and a computer are all I need.

— Jennifer Nessel’20