It's Labour Day weekend and I've been back at school, teaching full-time, since August 20th. I was a little apprehensive about going back. Since the middle of May, I've been writing full-time, working on a new YA book project that will be published in the fall of 2016, and it was hard to let go of those long blocks of writing time. But on my very first day back, during the first class I taught, I remembered all over again why I love teaching -- because I love working with 17 and 18-year-olds who are more full of life and hope than any other people I know.
But that's not what this blog entry is going to be about. It's going to be about my favourite, most basic writing tip. In fact, the tip is only one word long. You ready?
Yesterday, in my Humanities class at Marianopolis College here in Montreal, we were reviewing a hand-out I use in every class I teach. It's full of writing tips -- and even after all these years, I still get excited when I go over it. One of the tips suggests that students write about issues and experiences that affect them personally. Which led to my telling them, "Write about stuff you CARE about!" Then I went on to explain that though the writing may not be easier, chances are it will come out better.
And because I love examples and happened to have one handy, I told my students how I recently heard from a Montreal social work professor who has written a non-fiction book about her work with aging Holocaust survivors. Her research indicates that when seniors who have undergone severe trauma age, their minds often return to these traumatic memories (seniors who have not undergone trauma are apparently more likely to focus on happy memories). I explained to my students that because my mom, who is 85, is a Holocaust survivor, I really care about this subject. So guess what? I'm going to write about it for the Montreal Gazette. It doesn't mean I won't have to work hard (I will, there's going to be a lot of research involved in this assignment); and it doesn't mean the story will be easy to write (even after all these years, writing always feels like a challenge to me). But I know already it's going to be good... really good. Not because I'm such a talented writer. But because I CARE!
Happy Labour Day weekend. Hope you have lots of things to care about!
Great blog post! I love how you said just because you care a lot about something doesn't mean it will be EASY. As a musician I can say it's the same story in performance as in writing. The more you care, the harder you are on yourself, the better the product! I find caring about something often makes it harder, but more worth the time spent on it.