Friday, June 24, 2005

Writing in the Real World

I would like to get some opinions about writing in the "real world."

I have learned two things from my students over the years: 1) Most of them do not like to write, and 2) Most of them avoid reading when at all possible.

At the beginning of every semester I ask my students if they spend very much time reading, and most of them will say that they hate to read and do not do it unless they absolutely have to. When I tell them that those of them who do make it a habit to read a lot are usually pretty good writers, and that those of them who avoid reading usually are not very good writers, the non-readers seem quite shocked. I explain that the way to learn to write good sentences and paragraphs is to read good sentences and paragraphs. (Those of you with young children: Start now getting them interested in reading if you want them to do well in school.)

Another thing that most of my students don't understand is that in the "real world," people do have to write sometimes, whether it be a company memo, a newsletter, or even a complaint letter.

Here's what I'd like to know from you: Aside from blogging, how much and how often do you have occasion to write, and what types of things do you write? Also, does your reading affect your writing in any way?

I am hoping that if my students see comments from "real world people" they will be impacted in some way to take reading and writing more seriously.


Jana said...

I wholeheartedly agree that the more you read, the better you write. Very true!

Tony Arnold said...

You are 100% correct. I started reading early in my life and became an addict. I love to read. I can go any place I want to go, do anything I want to do, and learn anything I want to learn through reading. It is one of the greatest personal freedoms God gave to us, third only to free will and free thinking.

Reading copiously really helped on standardized tests. When you read all the time, a multiple choice english test is a breeze (a ridiculous method of testing reading and writing skills). You immediately recognize the proper forms without thinking about any rules or trying to remember the mechanics.

This holds true for writing as well. You will write like you read because that is what you are learning. Therefore it is important to be eclectic in your reading and have some quality standards in your reading.

If you have any technology or science majors who balk saying, "I am not going into the humanities, I won't have to write," just chuckle at their naivete. (Same is true for humanity students who say they don't need math and science--wrong!!!)

I was in engineering for 20 years, and you have to write to: document your work; generate specifications and design documents; create manuals and training; submit reports to management and to the industry; get your work or research known by having it published in trade journals; patent applications; obtain research grants; customer and sales support literature; professional correspondence,etc. Bad quality writing will hurt your career. Decent quality writing provides a career advantage.

I recently changed careers and I am responsibile for writing my company's Strategic Plan this year.

Finally, writing is probably the best value therapy known to man. It costs almost nothing and is incredibly theraputic. So many counselors ask patients to do it.
You can write just for yourself. There is no law that says anyone has to see your work.

Reading is a wealth of experiences and emotions available to you at your very finger tips.


Little Light said...

In finance, employees who don't write well are required to take business writing courses. They need to have the ability to write reports and presentations for our clients. Communication skills of all kinds is valuable in the business world.

jettybetty said...

I love to read now--after I finished graduate school there were so many books that I HAD to read, I was sick of it and took a few years off! I still agree reading is a great way to learn to write.

At my job--I write lots of emails--lots of case notes in the different systems we use (I blame them on my over-use of hyphens!)--I do compose some business letters--but that's about it.

I still think writing is important. It's a form of communication and if you can can't write well, I think you will be limited as to what you can do professionally.

I can write in standard essay form pretty good--but I would love to be more creative in my writing--with lots of imagary! I think that's just not a gift God gave me! Do you think that one can be learned??


JMG said...

Thanks for the comments, y'all. I will definitely pass these ideas along to my students this fall.

JB, I'm not all that good at creative writing, but I think it can be learned. I think it's something that takes a lot of practice and patience.

Tony Arnold said...

well, if you pass my comments along, correct the spelling errors please.

Ex: its therapeutic, not theraputic.


JMG said...

I cannot imagine how many spelling errors I overlook in my students' essays just because I am such a bad speller!