Writers write

Here’s my 2 cents worth of advice (with inflation, let’s call it 4 cents)


WVL, scribe

So you wanna be a better writer…..some random thoughts from the teacher’s desk….my 2 cents worth (maybe 4 cents with inflation being what it is) …
1) Read good writing. Read the classics – put the phones down and read – the average kid spends 2-3 hours a day on social media – imagine if that kid spent that time reading Sophocles, Homer, Joyce, Orwell, Hemingway, etc – or the Harry Potter or Wimpy Kid series for that matter….anything…anything at all!
2) Write more often – how about every day?!? Write for fun – pen letters – use words in art – write thank you notes – journal – try to write every day. Your brain is an incredible instrument (it’s more complicated in many respects than the sun that powers our solar system), a muscle that grows stronger with use. Unfortunately, swiping up and down does little for your brain while “long form reading, on the other hand, is like your brain doing dead lifts and squats. Feel the power!
3) Accept criticism from those who write and write often (everyone can run but not everyone is a world class runner – it’s the same with writing – accept criticism and strive to do better next time – your teachers were the tops in their class – you may feel as if they don’t know anything but you’d be surprised at what many of them have accomplished in their lives). Too many kids can take no criticism; one wonders how they will adapt once they have employers who are paying them.
4) Give grammar instruction a little bit of time each week (the tools in your rhetorical toolbox). The rules of grammar are knowable but you gotta put it at number 79 out of 100 things you care about during your school day – well at least 79 or better I would hope. I’m trying real hard to not be sarcastic here but one should know the tools in the writing toolbox if one is going to be successful in the long term.
5) Listen to audio books. Audio books are a great way to hear the pronunciation & annunciation of words you rarely use outside of print – how else are you going to learn them if you never hear them? Plus, listening to sentence structures and diction will enable you to better understand parallelism, active vs. passive writing, S-V-O, verb agreement, etc.
6) Put in the time (Rome wasn’t built in a day to use a cliche). 8-10 hours to construct a 1,000 word essay is about right. I know that sounds like a long time but consider how much time you spend playing football, soccer, or basketball in a week (15-20 hours per week not counting weight training and GAME DAY). Is this a sports crazed culture? You bet, and like you, I played 4 sports in high school. I get it. And yet, what are the chances you are going to turn pro? You are more likely to be a white or blue collar worker who communicates in small groups/companies for the next 40-50 years.
7) Learn a new word every day or 10 per week. Studies show that those with the greatest vocabularies tend to make the most money (if that’s important to you – and if it’s not that is okay, too). We do not push vocabulary hard enough. I apologize for not making you learn 10 new words every week and then quizzing you on those words. Students shouldn’t rebel when asked to do so. They should welcome the opportunity to communicate at a deeper level.
8) Bring your lunch bucket every day. You don’t have to bring your “A game” every day (no one does) but too many kids from what I have seen take days off, sometimes weeks and then want all their sins forgiven during the last few days of class before final grading. A good work ethic and showing up every day is as sure a way to success as I know.
9) Join a book club, subscribe to a favorite hobby magazine, or just plain read for fun!! You like to hunt? Subscribe to a hunting mag. You love soccer? Subscribe to a soccer mag. Reading for fun – what a concept!! Before Google became god and we bowed before it, reading for fun – as in comic books, mags, etc – was a staple of American life. America produces more hobby mags than any other culture in the world. I personally look forward to receiving 3 or 4 publications every month — I feel like they enhance my life.
10) Be thankful and thank the individuals who go out of their way to help you along the way. Gratitude is a lost virtue in this culture, in my opinion, and if you want to stand out from the crowd, try thanking people for a change. They’ll be shocked you did so and you’ll be recalled fondly.

There you go. 10 thoughts – make of them what you will.
Happy Holidays all!