Why There Is No Decent Writing Program
I received an email asking:
Is there such a programme (not software) for writing? A simple one?
If not, can it be done?
There is not one that I know of. The problem is that language is so complicated that the finest copyeditor I know can sit for hours over a sentence unraveling its meaning and its correctness.
A writing program requires a human. Otherwise you end up with a stilted bad translation, like a piano player who knows all technique and no art — or a designer with the same problem. You only get so much without discussing an original whole developed by the learner to test the message the learner is trying to send to make sure its the same one the reader is getting. It’s the ambiguity of words and the twists and turns of spelling that make learning to write too complicated to teach from a book or a computer program.
The 5 Traits of an Infallible Writing Program
Each writer’s process is individual. We find our own way to it. If your quest is to become an effective writer, you’re really taking on an apprenticeship. These are the 5 traits you need to build an infallible writing program.
1. To make the words sing with power and move people to action, you need a writing-rich environment, where folks write and talk about writing, a place where you have mental space and time to practice.
2. To offer direction based on your writing, you need a human, a coach, a teacher, a fluent writer, who understands the dynamic tension between structure and expression, who can listen like a reader and translate you message, and who loves the music of the language. Writers need constant feedback no question.
3. You need writer friends to coach you with tips and techniques that they use, the way an old jazz guitarist shares what he’s learned with a new one. Writers need input to keep growing.
4. Plenty of technical resources and reference books to check for how to do things according to conventions, such as capitalization and punctuation, grammar, usage, and mechanics. And you need someone to show you how to use them as manuals not roadmaps.
5. You need time for reflection. Time to think the deep thoughts. Without them, serious writing just doesn’t happen. The world gets in the way. It only takes a few minutes to let a writer find the quiet to write in.
Learning to write starts the day we learn our first word and continues until we write our last one. It works in this way:
First we listen. Then we speak. Then we read. Then we write. The more we listen, speak, read, and write with folks who can already do it, the more fluent we become in the language, and the more we understand how to use it. With fluent speakers and writers guiding us, we learn to do it faster, broader and more deeply.
In the end, we learn to write as we learn to talk, by doing it.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
If you think Liz can help you with your writing check out the Work with Liz!! page in the side bar.