You’ve been told that writing is art…language art. But it doesn’t feel that way, does it?
The biggest problem is that writing, though it is called “art,” is not always taught like art. Think about what an art class looks like: visual arts, performing arts, even culinary arts.
- See the colors.
- Hear the sounds.
- Feel the movements.
- Smell the aromas.
- Taste the flavors.
Art classes are filled with these things. Creation. Expression. Execution. Style. Craft.
Now tell me, does your writing class look like that?
Probably not. Writing is often taught the same way math and reading are taught: out of textbooks, skill and drill.
And for that reason, you feel the same way about writing as you do about reading and math.
But writing is art, isn’t it? Shouldn’t it feel like an art class?
How much different would school be for you if writing felt like art class?
2 Reasons Why Writing Doesn’t Always Feel Like Art
Reason 1) Writing Isn’t Instagram-Worthy
A published writing piece doesn’t look pretty. In fact, all writing looks more or less the same when it comes out of a printer…unless you use fancy fonts and colors.
Writing is not a visual art.
It’s NOT like a painting or sculpture, something you create just to look at. You’d probably never take a picture of someone’s writing and post it on your Instagram, right? You’d definitely never take a selfie with it.
Reason 2) Writing Has SO MANY RULES!
Another reason it doesn’t feel like art is that there are SO MANY GRAMMAR RULES. Most other forms of art do not have so many rules. And the rules that DO exist are more like guidelines, and most can be worked around. This gives you a lot more freedom when creating art.
All of those rules, however, can make you feel more like a prisoner when you’re writing.
- Capitalize these letters but not these.
- Cite your sources here, here, and here.
- But once you cite your source there, you don’t have to cite it here.
- I know it makes an “f” sound, but you don’t spell that word using an “f.”
- Is that a San Serif font?
- Why did you use a comma when you should have used a period?
- Why did you use a period when you should have used a semicolon?
- What do semicolons exist anyway?
Now, I ask you again:
How much different would school be for you if writing felt like art class?
I can’t change how your writing class is run. I can, however, help you to look at writing differently.
5 Tips to Help You Enjoy Writing Class
Tip #1 – Focus on the thoughts and feelings you want to express
When all is said and done, writing (like all art) is about expression. It is about getting a message out there into the world.
If you don’t have a message, then it doesn’t matter how well you write.
This tip and the following tip are discussed in more detail in my post “3 Truths to Help Students Who Lack Writing Skills.” So be sure to check that one out.
Tip #2 – Don’t worry about the writing rules until the very end
The truth is, you don’t need to know ALL of the writing rules in order to be a good writer. Even the best writers have to consult books and websites to make sure they are following all of the rules.
It’s not like driving where you have to know all of the rules before you start. In fact, the best way to learn writing rules is to just start writing and have an expert (like your teacher) tell you which rules to learn.
Then just focus on those rules. The only way that will happen, though, is if you start writing.
This tip is also discussed in more detail in my post “3 Truths to Help Students Who Lack Writing Skills.”
Tip #3 – Keep a writing journal the same way you’d keep an art journal
Your teacher might be having you keep an art journal already. But if it’s not like what I’m about to describe, then consider keeping an extra one.
That’s right. I said it. Another writing journal.
This one, however, won’t feel like a burden. In fact, this one will even help you with the one your teacher is making you write in. You may even like this one SO MUCH that you won’t want to go anywhere without it.
You’ve heard of a dream-catcher?
The idea is that dreams are everywhere, floating around in the air. The good ones slip through the dream-catcher while the bad ones get trapped.
Your life is like that. Memories are everywhere. Floating through the air like dreams. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are exciting. Some are boring. Some are old. Some are happening right this instant. You need something to catch these memories.
That’s what your journal is. It is a memory catcher.
Any memory you have. Write it in there. Any idea you have. Write it in there. Write a few words or a few sentences. Sketch it even. But don’t feel you have to do any more than that. Your memory catcher is meant only to catch the gist of your ideas. You don’t want to waste time on an idea that might not work out.
I had my students keep their journals this way for a week. By the end of the week, most of them had over eight pages of writing ideas. I asked them how hard it was. They said it was too easy.
Then I told them that they now have enough writing ideas in their journals to last them until graduation. Minds. Blown.
If you want to know more about this style of journaling, check out my post “How to Keep a Writing Journal Students WANT to Write In.”
Tip #4 – Share your ideas before writing them down
Whether you write or not, you know the value of a good story. You tell stories ALL THE TIME. You might even have a section on your social media called “Stories.” TikTok is filled with stories. YouTube is filled with stories. You may even be sharing stories while your teacher is trying to teach.
Now why do we tell stories?
I explore this idea more in my post titles “Why We Tell Stories,” but here’s the gist of it.
When you tell your friends stories about things that have happened to you, which stories do you tell? You tell the stories that will get a reaction.
And when you tell the story, how do you tell it? You tell it in a way that gets your friends to react the way you want. If something bad happened to you, you tell the story in a way that makes your friends sympathize with you. If something amazing happened, you tell it in a way that gets them excited. We tell stories to get a reaction.
Which stories do you share on social media?
The ones that will get likes, loves, angry emojis, laughing emojis. What are those called? REACTIONS!!!
Now how do you feel when you get the reactions you want? It feels great! You feel like creating more content like that. Even taking it a step further and putting in more work.
Seeing the reactions of your audience can be a great motivator.
What if you share an idea you are thinking about writing about and your audience says something like this, “Dude! That’s an awesome idea! You’d better write that now before I steal it!”
Wouldn’t that make you want to write it?
That’s what I want you to do. Share your ideas EVEN BEFORE you start writing them out. It doesn’t even matter how you share it. Share it with friends, family, a classmate, a teacher. Even post it on your social media.
The reactions you get will be a good indicator of whether you should move on to writing or to find another idea.
Tip #5 – Write in a way that gets a reaction out of people
With the last tip stated, I want to offer one more that seems to be a little more obvious now. Now that you know that you write in order to get reactions…
WRITE IN A WAY THAT GETS THOSE REACTIONS!
Think about your audience. What do you want them to do? Laugh? Smile? Cry? Rage? When do you want them to do it? Write in a way that makes them do what you want, when you want.
You have a lot more power as a writer than you realize. Writing is like magic. If you say the spell correctly, you can get people to do whatever you want.
So when you write, focus on writing in a way that gets people to do what you want them to do.
There’s not much you can do about how your writing or English class is run, but there is something you can do about how you approach it. And sometimes that’s what can make all the difference.
Writing is something you’re going to have to do every year until you graduate, so you might as well find a way to enjoy it.
If not, you can always show this post to your English teachers. I’m sure they’ll agree with everything that’s in it.
Like what you see?
Tried it out?
Want to see something else?
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I’d love to hear from you.