For my Ed Tech class: the link to my Personal Interest Project on Prezi can be found here.
Apparently if you want to participate in a Twitter chat late on a Saturday night, there is only one kind of educational group still online: writers. As a matter of fact, this last Saturday was the conclusion for National Novel Writing Month. The goal was to write 50,000 words within the span of the month of November. These writers used the twitter chat #amwriting to discuss their successes, losses, and sources of inspiration. Most of them continued to post to #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) the number of words they had completed. Most of them, it was obvious, had just barely met the mark. Some of them were still squeezing in the last few thousand words in the remaining hours, exulting in the fact that their time zones were permitting them just enough time to make the deadline.
So, who cares about a bunch of dream-chasing overly-motivated procrastinators?
I do! Writing skill is crucial to any teaching field, and it’s crucial that students know how to write analytically as well as creatively. In fact, I’m going to suggest that the best kind of writing just might require a combination of the two.
As an aspiring scientific educator, I fully acknowledge that writing is a key part of science. It takes specially-honed skill to comprehend a lesson and translate it into a decent lab report. Lab reports are a unique combination of convergent and divergent thinking. Divergent thinking requires hypothesizing and foresight, while convergent thinking requires analysis and attention to detail.
Now, converging back onto the theme of #amwriting, what do these writers have to say about high-quality literature? The recurring retweet was:
You must learn to overcome your very natural and appropriate revulsion for your own work. ~William Gibson
This quote implies three things. First, writers should reflect honestly upon their own work. They should be able to see it for all its flaws, imperfections, and ask the question “If I didn’t know who wrote this, what would I think?” Secondly, it implies that this revulsion is not an inherently bad thing – rather, it’s a chance for growth. Like eating your vegetables, revulsion for one’s own work is not pleasant, and it’s probably not best to base your entire diet off of that self-criticism. However, like vegetables, that criticism contains the nutrients which make for strong bodies and able minds. Lastly, this quote implies that you can overcome that natural revulsion. You can overcome the revulsion by learning to use that revulsion for benefit. After all, don’t we teach children to overcome their revulsion for vegetables by telling them that it will make them grow up big and strong? You can also overcome this revulsion by using your past experiences to improve your writing. Better writing makes for more tolerable criticism, much the same as better prepared vegetables make for a more tolerable meal. As one participant tweeted, “Sometimes the hardest things to write are the only things worth writing. [I’m f]orcing myself to remember this as I struggle through.”
Some of the participants provided links for the improvement of writing skills. I found this one on tips for new writers particularly relevant: bit.ly/Iu0iuq The main point this writer makes is that it’s not the skill of your writing that brings success, but your ability to speak to people. If you’re out there writing for your own gain, then your writing means nothing. What matters is being where God wants you to be; you might be surprised how success comes after you abandon your own dreams and fix your eyes on a proper goal.
As I type this up, I’m ashamed to say that I’m not writing this for your benefit. If God has called me to a career in education and science, then what am I doing just making deadlines? How am I using this knowledge to impact lives and build others up? Am I using my skills for God’s glory, or is my line of sight ending at the nose in front of my own face?
Oh yeah, I still have to finish this post. What else did I learn? There are plenty of resources which will critique your writing for a fee, like here: bit.ly/MLeCy3 Perhaps there are even some people who will critique scientific writings.
Who have I started following as a result of this Twitter chat?
-A writing coach and blogger from CA
-An author, homeschooler, and radio host from AR
-An author who specializes in tweeting advice to writers
-An account which provides new writing topics every hour
-Twin sci-fi writers, the hosts of #amwriting