Sunday, April 5, 2015

How the best writing teacher teaches

This article was inspired by Roz Morris' blog post:  Can writing be taught? And what do writing teachers teach?

I was an Early Childhood Educator (a.k.a. Day Care Worker, a.k.a Child Care Provider) for over fourteen years. I saw my role as a play facilitator. Children are driven to work. They seek to master today what they couldn't yesterday. That's how the infants in my care learnt to walk, to talk, to feed themselves. We, adults, call this important work play. 

I guided, encouraged and nurtured, but I didn't say, "Today, you'll learn to walk."

Instead, I followed their led. Close observation revealed what they were most interested in learning and what level of mastery they had. Once this information was obtained, I enhanced the environment to aid them in further development.

I didn't give each child a checklist on how-to walk properly. I didn't insist that they led with their right foot. The outcome was far more important to me than the process.

The children did learn some principals along the way. For example, they learnt in order to walk they had to use their feet, to eat they needed to use their hands.

The best writing teachers teach the same way. Led by my desire to improve my writing, they guide me to growth. They don't insist that I wait to edit my manuscript until I'm finished my first draft. They don't insist I write a character sketch, when that doesn't fit with how I work. 

Instead they nurture my environment by suggesting good books to read and helping me to equip my writing toolbox with, for example, a good understanding of grammar and punctuation. Once they have equipped me with this information, they watch as I progress from writing short stories to writing novels. They celebrate my triumphs and provide me with supportive feedback on how-to improve.


Becoming a Student of Your Own Creative Process by Dan Blank

Next Monday:  Review of the Active Pass festival on Mayne Island

My author journey...

This week I receive the final edits from my first readers. They were so helpful. I re-learnt techniques like parrallelism ( link ) And once I incorporated all of this helpful, useful information into my manuscript I sent it on to a publisher. It joined two others mailbox. 
9 submissions in March
2 less then last March
27 in total this year


ZR Southcombe said...

The first person to help me improve my writing did just as you say. She led me to some great resources, specific to the weaknesses in my writing, and gave me a relevant writing exercise to do.

Besides the practical stuff, she also helped me believe that my work was good enough - it needed work, for sure, and I will continually learn and get better - but that there was something in there that made it worth continuing. I'm so grateful to her for that early encouragement and support.

letscutthecrap said...

I had two writing instructors who had more faith in me than I had. Their support spurned me on. Although, I am still insecure, through their prompting I keep at writing.
A writers' group has also been ultra helpful but two I've joined have folded. I believe I need this kind of environment and hope to find one soon.

Nourishing post and links. Thanks, Leanne.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Great post Leanne! The best writing mentor I ever had was Christine DeSmet at UW-Madison. She teaches exactly the way you described. Ya gotta love it!

Leanne Dyck said...

Dear Zee, Tess and Laurie,
Thank you for contributing to this article. I enjoyed reading about the special writing teachers in your lives.

Tess, I too have suffered the loss of a nourishing writing group. Fortunately, I have found another. I hope you do as well.