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“I can’t write.”

“I’m not a writer.”

Those are statements I often hear from people.  I want to ask, “Then, how did you get through school if you didn’t write?”  Your writing journey began as soon as you learned your ABC’s.

The words [they do not feel they can write] symbolize a more profound belief that their words are worthless. What a shame! Throughout their lives, they felt unable to share their thoughts through the written word. 

Here Is an invaluable truth – everyone has a story to share. The stories may be based on experience or imagination, but you have a story within you.

Some people have the “gift of gab.”  They can produce thoughtful conversations and form fluent thoughts that flow from their lips.  Others take those thoughts and put them into eloquent words on paper or a computer screen.  Spoken words, unless recorded, are lost treasure maps.

Learned Experiences

Perhaps those that feel unable to write have a recessed memory of a poorly graded essay from junior high or high school.  At some point, a teacher rejected their thoughts and marked the paper for not having the proper subject/verb agreement, a dangling participle, a pronoun at the end of a sentence, spelling, etc.  

The teacher red-lined the grammar mistakes but did not praise the student for the content of the essay.  How many writers would there be if teachers had praised their ideas and thoughts as well?

Today’s Writing Tools

Technology has opened many to new windows of communication with writing and editing tools like Grammarly and MS Word Editor.  We have access to a dictionary and thesaurus.  Most of us learned phonics and grammar rules. School prepared us with a learning process, and proper sentence structure and flow of content were the goals of those English teachers.

Today’s writers should be concerned with the flow of their words.  It is important to give readers a roadmap to follow.  Sentence structure is still important, and it takes time to create the flow of words in an easy-to-follow map.

Get the Words on Paper

I taught a business communication course at a university for a many years.  Although it was a senior-level course, I found many of my students uncomfortable with writing projects.  I would review writing concepts they should have learned in elementary school, yet some struggled to put the words on paper.

We all learned to create outlines in school. While an outline is an important part of the writing roadmap, I believe that sometimes it needs to be a secondary step. 

“Write what you would say,” I would offer.  “Just begin the process and let your thoughts transfer to your fingers.”  The idea was to begin getting their thoughts on paper. Think of it as you would if you were choosing a destination for a vacation.  What would you like to do, see, and experience?

If the act of writing was challenging, I’d suggest recording their thoughts, then transcribing the words. The point was to get the words recorded. Getting the words on paper is the first step. Remember, everyone has a journey to share.  

Organize Your Thoughts

Once your thoughts are on paper, review them and categorize them.  What ideas fit together?  How should your roadmap flow so your reader can easily navigate the route?

I often used a map or board game visual for students to help them understand creating their story.  Your goal is to guide the reader from the beginning to the end in an enjoyable and visually scenic way. Describe the things you see along the route so the reader feels they are there with you.

Take the reader along a storyline that draws them to the next point.  Avoid sending them on detour side trips that may get them lost.  If a thought doesn’t fit the story, take it out and consider it as a “road closed.”

Just Write It

We have all planned a trip, whether short or long.  We have thought about our destination and the stops we want to make along the way.  Writing is no different.  Sometimes we know what to say, and the words flow.  Other times we need to research our information to make the route exciting and enjoyable.

Put it on paper (or the computer screen) and be excited about the adventure you’re about to record! Where will your story take us?