Friday, February 20, 2009

Secondary/College Topic: Writers about Writing

10-second review: We need to share with our students what can be learned about writing by becoming acquainted with and discussing the ideas of writers who write about their writing.

Title: “Reconsiderations: Writers Wanted: A Reconsideration of Wendy Bishop.” P Bizzaro. College English (January 2009), 256-270. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: “…so important that writers’ reports ought to serve as foundation for all pedagogies of writing.”

Comment: No question about it. Students will learn about writing by reading and discussing what writers have to say about writing—all kinds of writers. The books quoting writers on writing abound. Begin with The Paris Review Interviews and continue with Booknotes, the reports on Brian Lamb’s interviews with contemporary writers of nonfiction. There is a treasure chest of quotes in both of them. And that’s only the beginning. For example:

“Short paragraphs put air around what you write and make it look inviting, whereas one long chunk of type can discourage the reader from even starting to read.” Zinsser, On Writing Well.

James Baldwin on motivating for writing: “Something that irritates you and won’t let go,” Plimpton, ed., The Writer’s Chapbook.

Hemingway: “You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.” Plimpton, ed., The Writer’s Chapbook.

“Spencer…defined [writing style] as that which requires the least effort of understanding.” Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy.

Discussing such quotes will add to students' knowledge about the writing process. Guaranteed. RayS.

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