Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Free the Writer & Write with Freedom

I wanted to post some things that I shared the first day of class about how to get started with any writing project at the free-writing or brainstorming stage.

Here's the quote from Brenda Ueland about rejecting the idea of what you "should" (or "ought" to) write:

“Yes, you must feel when you write. You must disentangle all ‘oughts.’ You must disconnect all shackles, weights, obligations, and duties. You can write as badly as you want to. You can write anything you want to . . . Just so that you write it with honesty and gusto and do not try to make somebody believe you are smarter than you are.

As you write, never let a lot of ‘oughts’ block you: I ought to be more humorous, more leftist, more like Ernest Hemingway, more bitingly satirical. Then it shows. That spoils it. It will not be alive, but dead.” –Brenda Ueland, If You Want To Write

And once again, here are the timeless "Rules for Writing Practice" designed by Natalie Goldberg and applicable to more than just writing, perhaps even to life itself.

1. Keep your hand moving.
When you sit down to write, whether it’s for ten minutes or an hour, once you begin, don’t stop. If an atom bomb drops at your feet eight minutes after you have begun and you were going to write for ten minutes, don’t budge. You’ll go out writing.

2. Lose control.
Say what you want to say. Don’t worry if it’s correct, polite, appropriate. Just let it rip.

3. Be specific.
Not car, but Cadillac. Not fruit, but apple. Not bird, but wren. Not a codependent, neurotic man, but Harry, who runs to open the refrigerator for his wife, thinking she wants an apple, when she’s headed for the gas stove to light her cigarette. Be careful of those pop-psychology labels. Get below the label and be specific to the person.

4. Don’t think.
We usually live in the realm of second or third thoughts, thoughts on thoughts, rather than in the realm of first thoughts, the real way we flash on something. Stay with the first flash.

5. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar.

6. You are free to write the worst junk ever.

7. Go for the jugular.
If something scary comes up, go for it. That’s where the energy is. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your time writing around whatever makes you nervous.

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Semester Begins & Everything Changes

Like students, the lives of teachers tick to a seasonal clock. Another semester begins Monday, and everything changes.

Earlier today on my campus, the online late-registration system crashed all morning, and when I went to wet my whistle after the short but steamy bikeride from home, I discovered that my building was without water. Par for the last weekday before classes begin!

I've created a new set of blogs to specifically share with my Writing 1010 and 1020 students at Tennessee Tech. And perhaps my friends might check them out as well!

My rationale runs something like this: I want them to write often and hopefully blog (as well) for a 'real audience,' and I don't want to ask them do to something I am not prepared to do myself. So, I hope that these blogs will remind me to write regularly, and moreover, will be something that my students read regularly for supplemental statements both serious and silly.