Sunday, July 04, 2010

Reading vs. Writing

I definitely see myself more as a reader than a writer.

I love stories. Reading suits me best because I'm both impatient and tight-fisted. Movies are rarely free, and they require that you follow at their pace. (Although with DVD you can skip around by chapter and scene, which is nice.)

OTOH, I don't find writing particularly enjoyable. It's useful for recording ideas that I'd otherwise forget. And I ought to do it because it'll make me better at TEACHING writing, which is part of my job. And just like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

To make it palatable, I try to connect it to things I care about. And I'm hoping that maybe doing the same thing for my students will help them care about their writing, too.

In order to become a good writer, I think the first step is to figure out that you have something to say. And I think you need to become comfortable with the idea that what you have to say is valuable. And once you've written something that has value, I think that is what becomes the motivation for making it good. I think it's at this point that writing requires reading, because you can look at what other good writers do and think about why they did that and why it was effective and what would be effective in your work.

In order to become a good reader, the first step is to find a book you enjoy, and to start reading. One book leads to the next. And then you need to start thinking about what you read. Writing can be useful here, as a way to keep track of what you're thinking. However, you could probably accomplish the same thing by recording audio (though I think writing is less complicated). Likewise, conversation about what you read is important because someone else will offer a new perspective and can get you to think about possibilities you wouldn't have imagined on your own. This conversation can be written or spoken, though I think with the wonderful resources online (like goodreads and shelfari) it's even easier to connect in writing with people who're reading the same book that you are.

I want my students to become good readers and good writers. But I think part of that is going to be helping them begin to enjoy reading and writing so that they'll be more willing to do it on their own.

I'm hoping this helps. I haven't yet been able to get around writing being a chore myself, but maybe I can make it happen for my students.


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