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June 23, 2012

A Few More Words About Writing

There's something about putting words down, whether on paper or by keyboard...

...that puts a bit more focus or commitment in our words.

My most frustrating situation as a teacher of writing is when students don't have any interest - or passion - in their own thoughts and experiences.

Sometimes I even get plagiarized papers. This is a violation of academic standards and just plain tacky. I tell my students "If you can find it online, I can too". And I do, especially if I can tell right away that the essay is just to perfect - or if it is plainly obvious that the 'voice' is wrong. I generally have a good sense of how my students speak and write so it is obvious when they turn in an essay that is not their own.

But my strongest reaction to a plagiarized paper is sadness. At one level at least, plagiarism tells me that the student doesn't trust or have confidence in his or her own voice.

I know that writing is work - and it can be hard work both technically (as in mastering grammar, vocabulary and style) but it can also be tough work to draw out and organize your ideas. It also might be difficult to face what comes out.

Many times when I am writing, I put down things I didn't know that I knew. I often don't know what I think about something until I write about it. I also realize that something means more than I thought it did when I stop and sit down to write about it.

Sometimes I write poetry and surprise myself by my meandering thoughts and strange associations.

The philosopher Hegel used to say that poetry was the purest art because nothing (like paint or musical instruments) came between the human thought and the expression.

Writing is powerful medicine. Take notes on your life, keep a journal, write poetry, put words down that remind you of what matters in your life. You just might amaze yourself.

Let me know your thoughts, ambitions, discoveries and frustrations when it comes to writing.


Posted by mmorf at June 23, 2012 10:21 PM


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