… or so we were told by an English teacher from elementary school. Of all the teachers that taught me English, she’s the only one that continues to come to mind when I think about writing.
I haven’t got a clue. I enjoyed writing; I just hated her rules. I’m sure most people recognize the routine, the writing cycle, and all the rules. Double space your rough draft, learn the editing symbols, use a green pen for edits, and the creation of the final product. You’d have to hand in both versions and somehow I got a B or a C and then moved on. They rules seemed to be designed to make her job easier as teacher and not ours as writers. Of course, it involved cursive writing.
It was only later when I worked with a gentleman who was a real scholar about writing where he filled in the blanks for me and made so much sense. At the time, all the writing I did was technical and looked like the sort of manual that you’d expect to get with a computer or software. He really helped out, just by recognizing what I was doing, and explaining all the missing pieces.
I have always written – for myself, and for students, and for colleagues. His approach changed my writing and then the blogging platform made all the difference in the world. I still remember (and use) all the rules I formally learned but someone I had a newer approach that was more friendly and productive. There are even moments when I write for myself just so that I reinforce a concept and not necessarily have it intended for anyone else. But, I still appreciate that there are some who do drop by regularly to read it. I like that my instance of WordPress has a tag called “Just Rambling”.
And, of course, I can add a gratuitous piece of art too if I wish.
I just happened to run across this infographic from Wiley (it’s copyrighted so I won’t display it here but you can see it for yourself.)
12 Habits of Highly Productive Writers
There are 12 points emphasized in it.
- they reject the notion of “writer’s block”
- they don’t overtalk their projects
- they believe in themselves and their work
- they know that a lot of important stuff happens when they’re not “working”
- they’re passionate about their projects
- they know what they’re good at
- they read a lot, and widely
- they know how to finish a draft
- they work on more than one thing at once
- they leave off at a point where it will be easy to start again
- they don’t let themselves off the hook
- they know there are no shortcuts, no magic bullets, special exercises or incantations
Each point has a developed explanation. I find it interesting that it’s all about writing and not writing with technology.
When I look at what I do on this blog, I now realize that my writing habits are an amalgam of advice from both. I suspect that we know so much more today about writing that my English teacher couldn’t make practical. We certainly have better tools for those brainstorming, rough drafting, editing, publishing, etc. moments.
This all made me think about what I do. I know that I’m never going to be the next big author. When I look at what passes for publishing these days, I’m not sure that I want to be either. In some cases, it’s not original work but rather a regurgitation of someone else’s work. I think I learned that word from my English teacher in the context of what we call plagiarism today…
I don’t think my English teacher would survive for long in today’s classroom, with today’s tools and resources using the techniques that we had back then. By the same token, my friend and the list of habits above wouldn’t have the importance that they do without the basics.
I shudder when I hear all of this talk about going back to the basics. Where do we really think we’re headed should we do that? Let’s shift the conversation to let’s build on the basics and move forward confidently with the best that we have.