Professional writing advice for your classroom?
Could a famous writers advice on writing help you as a teacher? Could that advice work for your students?
Stephen King isn’t only a famous writer but he was briefly an English teacher.
King knows how hard it is. King says teaching nearly killed him – no joke.
In King’s book, “On Writing,” he writes in a simplified manner that teachers and students can understand and apply.
King writes in a simplified manner, like Scott Adams. He advocates that we all simplify our writing. (Am I doing this here?)
What does “simple” writing mean?
King promotes writing subject-verb-object sentences. He advocates short, simple sentences. Get rid of any unnecessary wording!
King also recommends that writers “talk” like real people when writing. Avoid overused phrases and words.
What about shortcuts?
King started writing early in life. He overcame a lot of drug and alcohol use himself and by those around him.
According to King there were no shortcuts. I have found this in many areas of my own life. Stop wasting time looking for shortcuts.
The time you waste doing that could have just been better spent getting started doing the work that you will need to do anyway.
He writes that if you want to be a good writer you have to write a lot.
He also advocates networking with other writers, asking them for feedback and reading a lot. These activities took almost all of his day every day for decades.
An interesting tip I have actually heard multiple times now is to rewrite a famous writing in your own handwriting. Literally copy it. Feel the words and meaning as you write them out.
I have actually had my students do this before and have done it myself using The Gary Halbert Letters. I think this works somewhat like training wheels. Your brain sort of formats itself to mimic sentence and paragraph patterns people who write for a living have found to be most effective.
A final tip of King’s that I really liked was basing some of his characters on people that he really knew. To some extent I think most students already do that. It is certainly easier than creating characters completely from scratch.
Top 3 takeaways for Teachers
1. Simplify your writing TODAY
2. Rewrite high quality writing by hand
3. Practice writing more often