14 December, 2011

Miles of Writing

Writers' Wednesday!!!

When I've tutored students (mostly college) in writing their papers, or virtually any homework that involved the use of at least four punctuation marks, one common difficulty stuck out.  They didn't want to write.  I was brought in not so that I could pull their teeth out, but so that I could get a grade that had no bearing on my G.P.A.

They had done all the preparations (research, outlines, references, etc.) and knew what they were writing about. A few of them even had first drafts that they were trying to revise from their teacher's notes.

What did they need me for?

After about ten minutes, they got the drift that I wasn't going to do their work like some Brian-from-Breakfast-Club-left-hanging-with-a-sheet-of-paper-whilst-everyone-else-was-hooking-up.  I've read enough to know that everyone has a particular way of writing.  Their own lexicon, sentence structure, and tone.  Voice.  Any teacher, especially English professors, would know from the first paragraph who authored the paper.

Remarkably few students got reinvested and stuck it out, with me helping, to finish the whole paper.  Most of them just saw how I kick started them and excused me as they took care of the rest.

All of us had to write papers going through school.  Effective communication is a highly prized job skill across the board.  Not all of us had to take singing classes, though we all use our voice. (I guess few care how we sing in the car.)

So why do all disciplines require a high degree of proficiency in a skill set from one particular occupation?  Is being a writer somehow "less" because so many other occupations incorporate writing and then more?  Are runners less athletic because almost all athletes run while performing their other sports' skills?

The takeaway from this for writers is that we have an ability and an enjoyment for writing that most people don't have.  Anyone can run.  Few people love to do it so much that they commemorate a fatal run by getting together in large groups and see if they can go the distance, make good time, and not die.  Non-writers need us.  To convey the message.  Nenikekamen!

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