Department: Communication Arts School: College of Arts and Sciences Campus: Old Westbury
Member of NYIT Since: 1989
As Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube videos, and millions of websites transform the art of writing, associate professor of communication arts John Hanc has embraced these innovations - all while staying true to his roots in health and fitness reporting. Since publishing his ninth book, Not Dead Yet, about Type 1 diabetic and professional bike racer Phil Southerland, he has monitored the Web for reviews (many of which have been on diabetes blogs) and used social media to promote the memoir's May release.
"Technology has been a boon to my writing," he says. "It expands the availability of information, the research you can do. It's wonderful."
Hanc has also experienced the flip side of 24/7 technology: the pressure to keep up with new information and multi-task. Working with a Harvard psychiatrist and behavioral change expert, he'll take on this topic in his next book, Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, which explores how to "tame the frenzy" of the information world.
"I have applied some of the principles I learned from writing the book," says Hanc. "The first step is to recognize that you can't do everything simultaneously. Take a deep breath and calm down."
The process of learning by writing is a style that he applies in the classroom, too. He shied from sharing his personal writing with students upon arriving at NYIT in 1989, but changed his mind after attending a Poynter Institute conference, where mentor and fellow writer Roy Peter Clark encouraged him to do otherwise.
"I can show students what I'm doing and the realities of it," Hanc says.
"If you had told me 20 years ago this is what my students would be doing, I wouldn't have had the foggiest idea what you were talking about," he says.
For Hanc, who wrote his first book - a single-spaced 50-page tome - on a typewriter in third grade, the craft of writing has changed since his days as a promotion and public relations copywriter for Time Inc.'s People and Entertainment Weekly magazines in the 1980s and '90s. He published his first book in 1993 and has written articles for the New York Times, Newsday, Smithsonian, and Runner's World, for which he also serves as a contributing editor.
He wrote his ninth and tenth books with the help of an NYIT Scholar Incentive Award, which provided for a sabbatical from June to December 2010.
"NYIT has always been supportive of my writing," he says.
A long-time runner and history buff, Hanc's personal insights enliven his writing. His book, The Coolest Race on Earth, recounts his experience running in the Antarctica Marathon. It won Honorable Mention in the Memoir/Autobiography category of the 2010 American Society of Journalists and Authors awards.
"I've been a runner for a long, long time," Hanc says. "It's fun to write about something you love."
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