WriteSpirit – A Beginning Step
WriteSpirit is the beginning of a comprehensive writing curriculum, but how you use it is completely up to you. Our hope is that folks will bring their desires, needs, and abilities; and then we will create together learning designed especially for us. If you are already accomplished and need something more advanced than what is currently here, please say so by leaving us a comment.
Our special intention is to help folks grow spiritually by means of becoming better writers, but if the writing part is all that matters to you, you can let the spirituality part go.
We suspect that many folks will want to start at the beginning. If that’s where you are, your first question might be “Why write?” Four big reasons. Because writing . . .
– uncovers and increases the writer’s knowledge base
– requires and develops a high level of thinking skills
– insists upon and promotes the writer’s individual responsibility
If you’re a reluctant or very inexperienced writer, please read closely this paragraph and the next paragraph. You might have a fundamental misunderstanding. You might believe that the most important aspect of writing is the end product: the story, book, poem, film script, or whatever is printed on the page or appears on the screen.
Not so. What matters most about writing is the process that it is. What matters even more than the result is the actual doing of writing. The major benefits of writing are all realized well before publication occurs. Those benefits are, of course, in that list you just read.
How does one write?
We’re not talking about the physical implements. It doesn’t much matter if one uses a lap-top, a pencil, or a sterling silver fountain pen. The “how” that interests us is how does one most efficiently and effectively engage in the writing process?
The first step is to break that process into its necessary parts. There are five stages in the writing process: creation, shaping, writing, revision, and editing. The movement between and among these stages is both sequential and recursive. Sequential means that the order of the steps listed two sentences ago is also the order in which they are engaged. First one creates, then shapes, then writes, and so on.
But the movement is also recursive. One does not only begin at the beginning and move forward. One also backtracks and circles around. We will elaborate on that recursiveness later, but first two very important issues need attention.
Good News for Beginning Writers
The success of all communication depends upon two “meta-requirements,” passion and truth. Passion includes emotion, but it is more than emotion. A more adequate synonym is “conviction.” My passion is whatever is so important to me that I am willing – indeed, eager – to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Passion is partial when it is focused upon a particular topic (gardening, stamp collecting, dance, raising children, and the list goes on), a particular purpose (to cure a disease, promote peace, build a loving marriage, increase the use of green energy, and so forth), or a particular audience (African American middle schoolers, residents of nursing homes, political leaders, one’s children, and of course the list goes on). But passion becomes complete when it is focused upon all three.
If you can’t get started on your writing, spend some effort seeking your passion. As always, write it down. When you are clearer about your deep convictions, you will find it much easier to share what you care about.
Truth is the second meta-requirement of effective communication. Truth includes the facts, but it is more than facts. Indeed, if you have truly found your passion, you will do whatever is required to root that passion in truth. You will do whatever is necessary to find the right words to address this audience, for this purpose, about this topic.
A-P-T: Audience, Purpose, Topic: the Foundation of All Real Writing
We must first uproot a habit you may have acquired in fifth grade. Most of the writing we do in school is almost always centered on topic. You were either told what to write about or it was your first response when given the assignment: “But I don’t know what to write about!”
Topic is the single word for writing content, but topic is not the only important issue. The success of all real writing rests upon three legs. Topic is one of them. The other two are audience and purpose.
Purpose means the reason the writing is being done. All real writing intends to accomplish something. Some part of the world will be different because this writing has happened. Bringing about this difference is the writing’s purpose.
“Audience” is not a synonym for “reader.” Audience means the people to whom this writing is directed. Who reads the writing is an accident that happens after the writing is published. Who the audience is, is an intention that happens while the writing is being shaped.
With academic writing the topic is often assigned. The real purpose (no matter what the teacher said) is usually to get a good grade, and the real audience is the teacher. In real writing, however, the questions are more complicated. In real writing, the writer herself is responsible for answering all three questions. The creation and shaping stages lead the writer to answer the three basic questions: Who is my audience? What is my purpose? What is my topic?
The Writing Funnel
It may help to think of the writing process as a funnel. The wide end is the beginning of creation, and the process ends with the final editing.
Much of the writing we are going to do in WriteSpirit is entries in our spiritual journals. The main purpose of a spiritual journal is to help the writer grow spiritually. The primary audience is the writer’s own self.
So let’s write something. If you simply read the words that follow this paragraph, you are not going to gain much benefit. You must actually do everything the words say, so that when the section is finished, you will have acquired the skills and knowledge necessary for what is coming next: The Creation Stage.
Put something down. Anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single word, a phrase, an entire paragraph, or even a non-verbal illustration. Turn off your critical judgment. This is not the time to evaluate; it is time to create.