Monday, September 9, 2019

Writing = Communication

Shadows of Leaves on Rock

Writing is a form of communication. Sure, I teach for-credit, undergraduate writing courses and grade students on their use of punctuation and molding of crisp thesis statements. But in the end, what is most important about a piece of writing is that it communicates something to the intended audience.

Our first grader is intrigued by reading and writing. He wrote a birthday card to a bilingual friend half in Italian and half in English. He sometimes sends text messages that include both emojis and words. He mixes languages, images and words - spelled 'correctly' and phonetically. Sometimes he shows us words he's learned in American or Australian sign language and sometimes he acts out his own "picture language." Based on his friends' responses, all of these marks, images and gestures are effusive forms of communication.

Sometimes we adults need to be reminded that we don't have to spend all of our time flipping and flopping a comma around in a sentence; we should instead focus on communicating. Sure, we need to be understood. Sometimes that means following the rules, but sometimes that means creating new rules or catching rules as they morph into new ones.

Give yourself a pass today to write freely. Let the words flow. Focus on grammar and punctuation later when you edit and revise your work. Maybe you'll learn something new and maybe you'll communicate that thought well, too.

For more, link through to some of my writing prompts. You might also watch these Ted Talks on how language changes over time.

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