How to Write Better Whether You're a Student or Teacher!
There’s only one rule. Forget rules and get creative! Here’s a little secret about writing: Everyone knows how to do it, and we’re all good at it.
The Power of Storytelling
Kids, especially, are great writers. After all, writing is about communicating—and kids are great communicators. Even when they’re non-verbal, kids learn how to get their point across in an effort to get what they need. Before they’re able to form a letter, print their names, or learn to spell, they know how to tell a story.
Just ask a kid, “What did you do last weekend?” or “Tell me about your best friend,” and you’re likely to hear a creative, imaginative tale complete with imagery and emotion.
Then remind the same kid about the rules of grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Caution them against using passive verbs or too many adverbs. Emphasize the importance of a formal introduction and conclusion. Now, hand them a pencil or keyboard and ask for the same story about the weekend or best friend.
What do you think you’ll get?
Sure, rules are important. As we’ve agreed, storytelling is about communication. Written storytelling turns into effective communication when it follows certain rules that illuminate a path for the reader. But we can get so caught up in the rules that we forget to support and celebrate the simple joy that telling a story can bring.
No matter your age, the greatest block to good writing is a lack of confidence. For young writers, the problem isn’t that they don’t have anything to say. The problem comes when someone tells them they’re not saying it right.
For teachers, the dilemma is knowing how to let go of the constraints that the rules create, and recognizing the satisfaction inherent in successfully sharing an idea with another person.
But wait! What about formal writing? For students, there are essays, biographies, book reports, and most importantly, standardized test questions (gasp!). Teachers have to produce high-stakes writing projects, too, including a philosophy of education statement, grant applications, continuing education assignments, parent-teacher communication, and lesson plans.
All are important and all have their place. But before anyone, student or teacher, can create a perfectly formatted, meticulously spelled, rigidly grammar-conforming piece of writing, they first have to believe they can write, and secondly they have to find pleasure in doing it.
Quick Tips for Students and Teachers
For students, the trick is to create a love of writing that can survive the imposition of so many constraints.
For teachers, the mission is to conjure that childlike joy in spinning a tale without editing the free flow of words and ideas.
For themselves and their students, teachers would do well to judge a piece of writing in stages. Writing isn’t an outcome, it’s a process. Value and celebrate the imperfect yet honest efforts of the first draft, and you’ll build the skills and confidence necessary for the accomplished result of the final product.
WriteLab is a great tool to help anyone build his or her confidence during any stage of the writing process. It helps you identify patterns in your writing you might miss on your own. Also, the feedback you’ll receive goes beyond grammar—giving you suggested revisions on your logic, clarity, and concision. Improving these crucial areas of your writing will give your readers streamlined prose.