The Secret of Good Writing

Writing a story or an essay or even a paragraph can be grueling for so many reasons. I suppose the first thing that’s frustrating about writing is so many people think they don’t have anything important to say. The second thing is knowing that when they first take a stab at writing their thoughts will get bogged down because the “right words” don’t come. Then there’s the rewriting and proofreading — making sure the right words, punctuation, spelling and grammar are all correct. I admit it. Proofreading is my nemesis. I invariably see mistakes after the I publish this blog and then have to go back and update the “words of wisdom.” No one is immune from this frustration. It’s amazing anyone writes.

Interesting enough, the text we have used began having the students begin by JUST writing. There was no emphasis to find the right word, the right spelling, or use the correct grammar. For the first month, the only thing students concentrated on was getting their thoughts down on paper. I called it from “brain to the page.” This was the fun part, but soon the real work would begin–the dry as cornflakes grammar and spelling rules.

I tried to make my students understand that writing is like anything else that you want to accomplish. The first thing a person discovers is the fun of the activity, but if you want to get better, you must dive deeper into the subject, and soon you realize the work begins and never ends. The desire to better at anything pushes everyone to put in the hours of practice it takes to improve. Another way to get better at something is to surround yourself with people who are better than you are. And finally, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a coach or teacher who believes in you. That’s my role. I encourage my students to keep practicing because I know they are all smart enough to do what they want to do.

So, today my classed finished the text. Next week there will be a practice test and then FINALLY they will take their final exam. It’s scary for all of us–including me! The proof of whether they’ve learned the lessons I’ve taught them well be in black and white. But  no matter how they do on the test, they will all leave with the knowledge that writing is a craft that takes practice, practice, practice.

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