Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There's Writing, And Then There's Writing Well

I was helping a friend's son with his college essays last week, and afterwards, thought about how hard it was to teach writing.

Many people hate, hate, hate to write. It doesn't come easily. Pulling words out of their head feels like slogging through blackstrap molasses on a January morning.

But the thing is, everybody has to learn how to communicate effectively. Even a one-page office memo with bullet points needs to be clear.

I do think that good writing can be taught, especially when a person disoovers its relevancy. Say, for example, getting and keeping a job.

But then there is a kind of writing that goes beyond communicating clearly. I'm not sure this can be taught, because it is so hard, but so very satisfying. I think this kind of writing happens because a person has that writing bug deep inside them, where she is willing to study the craft of writing.

Also known as...prose.

Here is an example:

"Everyone at the table became quiet."

That is a clear, concise sentence.

Now here it is again, jazzed up:

"Silence fell over the table."

See what I mean?

Prose takes work, editing, re-writing, reading other writers, loving and studying words and phrases. Basic philology.

But it makes all the difference in writing, and writing well.

On another note...check out our interview posted today at The Writer's Life and an excerpt of Deb Coty's devotion here.