Morning thoughts on writing

Writing is my life. I write, I teach writing, and I read other people's writing. No day goes by that I don't encounter writing.

Since I am so immersed in writing, I would like to enumerate some advantages to you, the aspiring writer, of writing over speaking or thinking:

1. Writing provides a good way to use time economically and effectively. If you write something, there is the potential that millions or billions of people can read, far into the future, what you wrote just once. In this way, writing is far more productive that speaking, where the audience is limited to the people around you (unless your speech is broadcast or recorded, but even then, your audience is still limited to people with a TV, computer, radio, etc.). Written communication is eminently portable over space and time.

2. Writing gives people a chance to ponder and reread what you've written. When you listen to someone, you miss parts of what is said because your mind is making leaps and filling in spaces with possible words rather than listening to each word as it is spoken. When you read, you can go back and reread when you realize you've missed an important point or lost the author's train of logic.

3. Writing uses different parts of the brain from talking, listening or thinking. Talking and listening are linear, in that the brain is forced to process words one at a time. Thinking is often a series of images or words that don't shape themselves into complete ideas, but incubate until they are ready to coalesce. Writing combines the linear aspect of talking and listening with the more formless aspect of thinking, developing a part of the brain that synthesizes and finds meaning. Your brain grows in important ways when you write.

Writing is my life for these reasons and more. I get great pleasure from writing a passage that captures the images and ideas in my thinking. I enjoy reading a passage that's hard-hitting, elegant, challenging to my perception, funny, or lyrical in its description. I get a kick out of teaching when I read my students' work and can trace the development of their skills. Just for fun, why don't you respond to this quick and simple writing prompt?

What happened just before this picture was taken? What will happen next? Why?


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