7 Steps to Better Writing

Published on: Author: bette 16 Comments

This is a good example of why I’m excited about starting this website.  I put this list together for my first Learning to Write / Writing to Learn workshop for the Santa Anita Reading Council on February 9, 1999.  It’s a good example of something I would like to include in this book, but it just doesn’t seem to fit into any one of the chapters.  I have tons of handouts like this and they seem to be what teachers have liked the best about my workshops.

Like everything else on this site, I consider this an early first draft so would love your feedback.


7 Steps to Better Writing


16 Responses to 7 Steps to Better Writing Comments (RSS) Comments (RSS)

  1. I liked the 5-10 minute mini lessons … I think. The brief lesson then application of the skill to real writing, eg the teacher showing deliberate mistakes for the students to “correct” all the while asking “why” that needed correction or not.

    • When I first thought of making a “common error chart” for my class, I called it the “No No List.” It came out of desperation when I couldn’t stand seeing the SAME errors over and over again. The very first mistake on the list in every class – both 5th grade and 8th grade – was “alot”!

      The next thing I invented out of despair was the “Composition Correction Sheet” … which I may or may not post next. The kids hated it (at first) … but loved it when they figured out what it could do for their writing ….

  2. Bette, I’m not sure I understand what you are trying to achieve. First of all, for me, writing is a process of putting down thoughts, whatever they are, opening the door to creativity. However, some people love to write from “facts”. They are good research types. They can “learn” to gather information and present it well. Writing in and of itself is such a broad topic. Are you teaching a child to “journal” or keep a diary? Are you expecting prose or poetry? How do you get past your inner critic and simply put down what you are thinking? Some people have trouble holding a pen or they can’t type well. Writing is complicated before you get to telling a good story. I think guided exercises are very helpful: what did you eat for breakfast? What’s the last thing your mother said to you before you went out the door? How did you feel when you woke up? Blah, blah, blah. The art of writing is a willingness to spill out who you are, whether someone else reads it or not. That’s the big challenge. Finding your own voice and loving it! Don’t know if this is the kind of feedback you wanted, but there it is!

    • This is definitely what I want, Shirley! This is what I mean on the ABOUT page when I say that the CCS’s finally gave me the focus I need to put 30 years of experience in one book! (Yes … I started the first workshop in 1986!) You’ve touched on several of the “Standards” … which I am calling “Competencies” … but the one that you are mostly addressing is CCS #10 … (and I think it’s also Core Competency #10 … but I’ll check that on my “Working Table of Contents.”

      (Now I’m going to see if I can link a comment to a webpage … the CCS #10 …. )http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/W/#CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.10
      (Yep … it seems to have worked ;-)!b

    • Hi again, Shirley … I re-read your post and it triggered many more thoughts! At some point I will go back and think about every one of your questions because they are exactly the sort of thing I want to cover in this book.

      One thing you said, however, started me thinking: “Writing is complicated before you get to telling a good story.” I think that may be one of the problems. I want to focus on the fact that storytelling is innate. Interestingly enough, so is writing. Reading is not “hardwired” into our brains – writing is! (But that’s a whole other chapter!) My point is that when kids arrive at school, we immediately begin making writing a chore – beginning, as you say, with learning to hold a pencil … which in many cases is almost impossible for little guys whose small muscles aren’t well enough developed.

      Whew … THAT’S why I love your comments! All of that will probably show up in Chapter 3 … “First Principles of Writing.”

  3. Hi, Bette!

    I’m going to go “outside the box” on you and suggest including at least a small section on electronic/internet writing (e.g., ‘Twitter’ messaging, smartphone texting, etc.). As you know, this relatively new form of writing can include a completely new “language” that incorporates unique acronyms and abbreviations, to the point where less-experienced readers may find the messages to be virtually unintelligible (yes, I include myself in this category!).

    In addition to becoming the primary form of written communication being used by current and upcoming students, texting and “cyber slang” may also have impacts to the more traditional methods of writing:

    In any case, I thought I would throw the idea out there …

    Have fun! 🙂

    • YES!!! Read the comment I just wrote Shirley … but substitute CCS #6 … which I’m calling Core Competency #2: http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/W/6/

      I’m going to do exactly as you say and broaden this into the area of social networking. (By the way … do you know that Paul’s theis for his Ph.D in Organizational Behavior at Stanford was in Social Networking … before anyone else (except Mark Zukerberg?) was really using the term. (Sorry … proud mommy moment.)

      • PS … I’ve saved all the emails you’ve written me about “The Righteous Mind” and will definitely take some time with them…. life had been pretty full since we talked in Hemet!

        • Good! When finished, let me know what you think. The reading can be somewhat “dry”! I had to read and re-read some sections several times before the concepts soaked in.

          • I just learned something. (And I might use it in my chapter about using the internet for “collaborating and publishing.) I changed my Discussion settings so that there can be 10 “nested” comments instead of 6. I still don’t know why you came up as “Anonymous” instead of “Clinty.” Any ideas???

              • You shouldn’t have to do that but I’m sure that’s what happened when my friend Kim came up as Anonymous. I’ll check the settings and see what I can do…. (Learning a lot … thanks for the feedback!)

    • That’s kind of what my husband suggested as well. I’ll start posting them and maybe they’ll even come together in a book of their own. Time will tell 😉

  4. I of ,of course, like #7….

    Maybe these sorts of shorter pieces could be gathered into a collection of aids for teachers and parents….

    • Yes … I was thinking about that when I made a separate category for the workshop handouts. Very few of them need any introduction …

      Hmmm …. maybe I could arrange them in some sort of a logical order and put that out before the book??? When I read the 7 Steps I realized that they are pretty much everything I want to say in the book – minus my stories.

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