To teach an aspiring writer, the teacher must understand how to arouse the student’s intellectual energy and direct it to the creation of a finished product.
At first the teacher will do most of this arousing and directing, especially, perhaps, directing. But over time, unless the student gains control over his intellectual energies, he will never become a good writer.
The writing teacher must continually ask, “How do I arouse that energy and keep it going?”
Writing is not the study of dead matter. It is the mastery of living energy.
Even a good program, however, can be taught as though it were dead matter. When a question enters your mind, it ought to wake it up. It’s the alarm clock that says, “Time for work!”
Only, if you are asking the question, it is more like the moment when your beloved brushes her hand against yours and says, “Kiss me.”
Similarly, an idea, properly understood, energizes the mind and the soul.
Therefore, I would propose that the writing teachers two best tools are questions and ideas.
These provide purpose and form to writing. They take undefined, void anxieties, voices in the head, concepts, and bring them into the realm of comprehension and reflection. They make the seemingly infinite manageable.
But how very easy it is to teach writing with statements and empty abstractions (empty to the student, if not to the teacher).
It doesn’t work. It doesn’t energize.
In the Lost Tools of Writing II, I am developing an approach to narrative that strives to arouse and sustain that intellectual energy. It has worked fantastically well in level I, for persuasive essays, according to the responses we get. Now let’s see what we can do with stories!
Keep your eyes peeled – LTW II will be hitting the market around April 1.