Thursday, 7 May 2015

Looking at writing as a learning tool

Looking at writing as a learning tool

C S Krishnamurthy, May 7, 2015, DHNS

Just like listening and speaking, reading and writing is another interestingly effective pair of communication. Firstly, students, by writing while reading, could learn to organise their thoughts. By adopting a reading-writing approach, a teacher could supply students with the guidelines that would make them more proficient learners.

Despite assertions that we learn to write by writing, writing in addition to communicating our ideas, makes profound contributions. As a powerful means of helping us solve  problems, writing makes us smarter, not withstanding that the acquisition of the craft of writing comes from reading.

Writing itself does not promote language or literacy development, the main argument being that those who write more need not write better, nor increase the aspect of literacy. But writing helps in other ways. Basically, we write for two reasons: The first and obvious one is to communicate with others (letters, emails, reports) and next, ourselves (notes, lists, reminders). The second is less obvious but keen and intense – we write to solve problems.

Here are some writing guidelines worth pondering about:

Planning

Many studies confirm that good writers have a plan before they actually start writing, a road map where they want to go. They are not always formal outlines, they are flexible. As they write, they come up with new ideas, they change their plans.

Rewriting

Mediocre writers write, good writers rewrite. The most fundamental strategy good writers employ, the one that distinguishes them clearly from mediocre writers, is the former accepting revision or rewriting as an integral part of the writing process. 

They understand that as they write, they emerge with new ideas and that it is in revision that the writers discover problems and solves them.  Average and poor writers often disregard revision  as a sign of weakness, drudging under the false belief that they must get everything right in the first draft.

Re-reading


Re-read frequently what you have already written, a strategy that helps to re-evaluate what you have done and come up with improvements.

Delay editing


Write first, edit later. Don’t edit while you write. A vital way in which good writers differ from poor writers is that the former do not stop on small aspects while working on their ideas. 

They delay editing until after an acceptable draft has been written, under the obvious pretext that the current draft is not be the final one. Treat grammar as a matter of late editorial chore. Focus on content in the first place.

Daily writing

Writing requires regularity, and the ideas that follow are the result of writing, as also the habit draws us into the moment.  Hence, one should schedule time and stick to it. There may be variability in scheduling the timings, number of pages/words per day, but the discipline is observed near-universal. 

Inspiration emerges from writing and not vice-versa. According to Woody Allen, “If you work only three to four hours per day, you become quite productive. It is the steadiness that counts”. You can write in a journal or text document, and blogging is highly recommended. It helps you to write regularly, makes you think in different ways, particularly when you have an audience (even if they are less).

A comparative study between writers with regular, moderate habit of writing  and “binge” writers for a five-year period revealed that the former category produced more than five times as much and all got promotion. Also, the “regular” writers were clearly more relaxed. Writing is an outlet, a way to put order in your head and heart. So put your thinking caps on and write away without any inhibitions.