What path do you, as a writer, take in order to get to where you want to be? Wise words spoken by Ernest Hemingway, a famous author that started out just as we all do: “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. ” This lesson is something I have noticed to be unanimously taught throughout most texts with advice on writing. One subject can be approached and dealt with in many different ways, through many different channels. The subject? To become a strong and competent writer who may someday be published. The solutions to this problem are taught swiftly and effectively in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott through an emotional connection to your writing and The Everyday Writer by Andrea A. Lunsford through an academic standpoint.
In Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life Anne Lamott focuses on the emotional aspect of writing for the majority of her book. Lamott refers to her childhood often, and the lessons she has learned along the way in her life, and how she has turned those lessons into fuel for her writing. In Part Four “Publication – and Other Reasons to Write,” Lamott writes about publication and how it is not the best thing that will ever happen to a writer. This subject has popped up several times in Bird by Bird, and it is safe to assume Lamott has struggled with publication herself and that is where all of this tension comes from.
Writing is not easy and that is something we all have come to face at one point or another. Writing projects are like our children: we put time and effort into them, we care for them and make small adjustments to them in order to make them wonderful. Lamott stresses that in order to get “the ball rolling” so-to-speak with your writing, you should write about things that matter to you! If you put your own personal touch on your writing, your voice will shine through and the reader will be able to feel the passion from your writing. Find your voice and look inside of yourself to see what it really is that you are wanting to achieve here. Words written with so much truth regarding life and writing: “When people shine a little light on their monster, we find our how similar most of our monsters are” (Lamott 198). Lamott tells a touching story of a little boy willing to die to give his sister blood touched me in a way that I did not expect. This story applies a useful lesson to writing as well; you should be willing to “die” in a literature way, for your writing. It seems so euphoric to see your own words in print, and it seems as if that is in fact the goal of being a writer. But alas, it is not. To me, the goal I would like to reach as a writer, is to be able to convey my thoughts onto paper in a beautiful and properly formatted way; something that writers may achieve by pairing Bird by Bird and The Everyday Writer.
In The Everyday Writer by Andrea A. Lunsford, you will learn about the less glamorous aspect of being a writer, but arguably one of the most important parts. In Part Four, “Publication – and Other Reasons to Write,” lessons are given on how to cite sources in print, online, etc. in multiple formats. Until recently in English V01A, I had honestly never heard of APA, Chicago, or CSE formatting; my whole writing career thus far has been formatted in MLA. In lower division education, writing is hardly in a format at all. When students get into high school and community college, MLA format becomes second nature and it is nearly a “sin” to write a paper without a header, double spaced name section and title. It would make sense there are multiple ways to do this, like there are many ways to do all things. As I was perusing this section, I could clearly see that mastering these formats will take time, more time than simple read. I have been indoctrinated with MLA style writing and I hope that as my educational career goes on, I will get to a point where APA, Chicago, and CSE are just as easy for me.
It is clear to see that writing is not as simple as a non-author would think. There are many points that authors consistently stress such as pure and honest material, and proper formatting that help produce well written writing. I would advise that all students looking to not only improve their writing in class but also out of class, pair together two books such as Bird by Bird and The Everyday Writer for a writing lesson that will come full circle. Whether you read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life or The Everyday Writer, a text focusing on the emotional aspect of becoming a strong writer and a text focusing on the educational aspect can help your writing reach the goal in which you have set for yourself, from every angle of the subject.
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