Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Learn to Free Write #My500Words #242

Here's today's challenge from Jeff Goins about "Free-writing":

Free-writing is writing without worrying about editing or punctuation or anything else that would keep you from, well, actually writing. The idea is to get the words down as quickly as possible and work on the polishing of the prose later.

If you can get into the habit of doing this, you will find that you CAN crank out 500 words, sometimes more, every single day without trouble. Otherwise, you'll get stuck endlessly editing the same 200 words over and over again, never hitting your mark.

Master the art of silencing the inner critic, letting go of perfectionism, and embracing your art.

So: from this point on in this post - I will not use the backspace or delete key to correct mistakes.

I nevere formally learned to use a keyboard - not even an online tutorial . I do recall my Mum trying to teach me to type proper on her Olivetti typewriter back in the 70s - I don;t think this was in preparation for the coming of the computer age, rateht I think she felt is would be a good skill to have. I really only started to use keyboards in the mid-1980s when I learned how to use the DEC-20 mainfram computer in Trinity as part oof my PhD studies. I use just a few fingers when typing and I spend most of the time looking at the keyboard rather than at the screen. As you can see so far I am  terrible typist and I rely a lot on spell-checkers and grammar -checkers to try and write proprely. I always (even after writing one sentence) look back to check spelling/grammar. And I make a lot of corrections. I am concious that I cannot use the backspace and delete keys while writing this so I'm guessing that this hightened sense of awaresness of my typing is making me a litlle more accurate than normal.

Ti's exam time in the COllege and soon I will be reading exam scripts from my styudents - almost all will be hand-written. Many students cross out sections or parts of wprds. They use tipex or erasers to correct as they co along. Others just scribble out a typo and staryt again. As I do not teach English grammar or spelling, I never take account of typos in an exam script - there is no reduction in marks for bad writing. I do find a hyuge contarst between students who can write very well and those that make a lot of mistakes.

I guesss the use of shortened words in text messaging has a lot to answer for ny1 wrtin 2day. I never got the hang of this and I am boringly weticulous whne using texts to ensure that I have teh correct spelling and grammer before sending. I am so slow at this I often find myself falling behind in text/WHatsApp conversations. Of course there is a more serious side to all this - dyslexia can be a problem for many peoplse in trying to use the written medium for communication.

Some teachers give their students a 5-10 minute spell of "free writing" to develop writing skills without the fear of correction. Thsis generates ideas and foccues on fluency rather than accuracy. If done frequently it builds confidence and improvs the routing of writing (see http://www.slideshare.net/gscruton/free-writing-8075889). Claire Schadle writing in Peerspective issue 6 (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0By4Gk8r5qOsQZmJmODk4ZmMtYWM4NS00YWJmLWEyYWUtZjBmYTgwNDk2Nzg0/view) uses free-writing with Japanese students learning English. Here results were mixed, with some students engaing very well while others found free-writing diffeicult to graslp. Her idea was that students were free to make mistakes and experiment - just as long as the wrote continuously for 10 minutes. She cooelcted thaeir writing at the end of every class and gave them gfeedback on what they wrote.

There is a stragne sense of freedom in writing like this. First - it is difficult to not use the backspace/delete keys when you know you have made a mistake. Many of the typos above I eanted to correct straight-away as I realised I had hit the worn g key. Bith most of the above erros I will not have noticed as I typed necessitating a proof read and correcting before I post or send text.

Tey it some time!

Note: 132 words at the beginning of this post not counted in today's 500 words.

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