Ted Spiker Lends Voice to JU Writers

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Photo by Grace Singer

Shouting out  Chad Ocho-Cinco in the middle of a lecture may not be an everyday occurrence, but when students are offered extra credit upon doing so, the cultural norms of a classroom dissipate.

This was not Jacksonville University, but the classroom of Ted Spiker who many students found an incentive to listen to, whether it was for a higher grade or to gain an experience in the field of journalism, on March 29, in Usen Auditorium.

Spiker, who teaches magazine journalism at the University of Florida, is a contributing editor to Men’s Health magazine, and now writes the magazine’s “Big Guy Blog,” according to tedspiker.com. He is the co-author of a dozen books, mostly in the health and fitness field. He had a hand in the creation of the national best-selling “YOU” series with Dr. Mehmet C. Oz M.D., (America’s doctor from the Oprah Winfrey Show and The Dr. Oz Show) and Dr. Michael F. Roizen M.D., as well as the best-selling Abs Diet series with Men’s Health editor-in-chief David Zinczenko.

An associate professor of journalism at UF, Spiker heads the department of journalism’s magazine sequence, said the website. He started at UF in 2001 and was awarded tenure in 2007. Spiker has taught such classes as: advanced magazine & feature writing, applied magazines, orange & blue magazine management, finding your voice, health & fitness writing, journalism as literature and magazine and feature writing.

Ted Spiker is a contributing editor to Men’s Health magazine; he worked there as an articles editor, senior editor, and associate editor from 1998-2001. A freelance writer who specializes in health and fitness, Spiker has had hundreds of stories published in various magazines, including: Women’s Health, The Oprah Magazine, Outside, Fortune, Reader’s Digest, Runner’s World and Cosmopolitan, according to the website.

The basis of his presentation was to showcase a few key elements on developing professional style. The first was to have a good idea. The idea is key to everything involved in the writing. With the good idea he told the audience to go beyond to find a story.

“Do work on the front end to know what you want to write about,” he said.

He also said that as writers each one should X-ray their work; that is to say to look underneath your writing in an effort to have more of a voice.

He stressed that reality rules over everything. If the writer has a good story, then the voice of the story will be good as well.

“You could have the best story, but if the story is not good the voice won’t be much better,” he said.

Using alternative art forms is another element he presented to the audience such as how music has a rhythm and emphasis points. He said to use it when writing in order to make the story flow. He mentioned how movies use visuals, character development and a plot.

Finally, his last point was play. He told the audience that writing isn’t about reading with your eyes, it’s about hearing it. He said to let your nouns and verbs carry the story.

Spiker lectures about writing, journalism, magazines and health and fitness. Besides his college teaching, Spiker also conducts workshops and seminars for professional organizations, as well as for high school journalism students. He has been the keynote speaker for banquets, and has been a speaker, moderator and panelist for writing and education workshops and conferences.

“We write to move people.”

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