Friday, August 03, 2007

Learning to write from teachers

from Dan Yashinsky, in Suddenly they heard footsteps:Storytelling for the twenty-first century

online at Chapters here: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Suddenly-They-Heard-Footsteps-Storytelling-Dan-Yashinsky/9780676975932-item.html?ref=Search+Books%3a+'suddenly+they+heard+footstpes'

"Teachers can sometimes work in strange ways. They may never tell you anything directly about your work, or coach you, or give you explicit instruction. They may never offer a criciticsm or even a suggestion, but you are learning all the time. Almost everything I learned from my teachers came to me indirectly: I observed their art, thought hard about their dazzling skills and knowledge, and brought them many cups of tea; in other words, I was a devoted listener to those who knew far more about stories, storytelling and life than I did."

When you think about writing better, who are the teachers you choose? One or two pieces is not enough to build a model - you need someone with whom you can form the relationship Yashinsky describes. You need someone who tells stories in writing - stories you want to hear. If there has never been anyone in your life you wanted to read, it is unlikely you will write anything anyone else wants to read.

It doesn't have to take long. Read someone who is a master of short pieces. I read Seth Godin's blog almost every day. You can find it at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/. Seth writes short pieces for the internet. Want to learn to write better email? Read Seth. Then read the people Seth is reading (you'll find the link through his blog, or through his lenses on Squidoo.)

If you are not willing to spend time reading, then do not write. There are other ways to communicate. There is no way to write well until you believe that writing can work for you.

No comments: