I will say this now. This is all my opinion, and I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions to this thought. This is just my view on teaching writing.
My friend asked me this weekend, why I didn’t want to teach writing. I love writing, and I’m an Education major. Teaching peole to write would only make sense, right? This is why this question was so hard to answer, and has been on my mind since it was brought up. Because I love writing. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher of little kids, since Kindergarten and 1st grade. Yeah. That long. Writing… I’ve only been writing for a few years. And the first few years were all horrible fanfics, so I don’t count those. So I’ve only really been writing prose-type originals for about a year. Poetry’s different. I’ve been writing poetry for a couple years.
But… There are a few things in the way of me teaching writing.
A) I don’t feel near good enough of a writer to be able to teach it.
B) I don’t think you can teach someone how to write. They either can or they can’t. You can learn how to write, but you can’t be taught how to write. You can be guided, critiqued, improved. But someone can either write a good story or they can’t.
C) I know people who would kill for my mediocre skill with stories because they want to be good. But I tell them that I’m not good. And I will never be good, at least I will never claim to be good. Yes, I’ve won a few small amateur writing contests that I got nothing from but the ability to say I won. But put my work against Mercedes Lackey, or Tolkein, or Rowling, or Collins, or Ibbotson, and I’m nothing. I will never claim an ounce of talent for writing, at least, not until I’m published. Then I still probably won’t.
So I can’t teach writing. I will use writing in my classroom, as much as you can for 4-7 year olds. I have a few ideas. But I feel like teaching writing is against all that is the soul of writing. Writing is supposed to be pure, untainted, genuine, original. You can’t teach writing if you look at it like that.
People either have the unspoken ability to mold words into something more or they don’t. You can’t teach someone how to have it. People either have a passion or they don’t. They can find it, I found mine, and for some people that’s later in life than others. Some have been writing since they could hold a pencil. Some may not realize they enjoy writing, and indeed have a passion for it until they have to write something for a class. And some, some never discover they have it. Those are the sad cases.
Going back to something I said earlier, and want to clear up a bit, is that you can learn how to write but not be taught. By ‘learn’ I mean that you can hone your abilities until they are at a level you are pleased with. And, as your talent increases, so your view of where you want to be. Writers will get better with their flow of words the more they practice. You can get critiques, and the harsher the critiquer, the more your initial writing will improve. I reccomend Lectin for this. He can be a beast at times, but then you write with their voice in your mind telling you to make it sound better.
Rudyard Kipling, one of my personal favorite authors, known for easy-flowing childrens stories, the Just So Stories, said this about how he edited his own work, ” There is no line of my verse or prose which has not been mouthed till the tongue has made all smooth, and memory, after many recitals, has mechanically skipped the grosser superfluities.” I got this quote from the preface in my copy of the Just So Stories, and is one I think of often as writing either poetry or prose. For if books or poems weren’t meant to be read aloud, what kind of story would it be? Kipling went to school for Journalism, and ended up writing fantasy-type children’s stories, enjoyed by all ages, because that was where he found his passion.
This post got a bit off topic, but thank you for bearing with me. I am very set against the idea of teaching somehow how to write. You must merely guide them in the right direction, while keeping in mind that their direction and yours might vary. Some writers like adjectives, and some like the technical aspects of a story. Everyone will have their own style, the hard part is making your view match someone else’s for their style. Always remember, you share the same passion for molding words, even if the way you get there is different.