Author Topic: Everyone should learn to write well  (Read 8848 times)

Arvin Ortiz

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Everyone should learn to write well
« on: May 21, 2009, 02:43:19 PM »
Judging from the book card—it’s usually found at the back of the book—of On Writing Well, I am, at least in our school, what you might consider its most frequent borrower. Written by William Zinsser, it’s a valuable book for people who want to learn to write well, with lessons ranging from the principles of writing to the methods of writing a memoir, an interview article, a travel article, a science article, etc. In fact, I have borrowed it for four times already, while some borrowed it only once. And still others haven’t heard of the book.

My female friend once noticed my fondness for the book. She wondered why I always borrow it. Then she asked me, “Do you want to be a writer because you seemed hell-bent on learning to write well?” I didn’t know then what to say. It wasn’t until several months after my friend asked me that I came up with an answer.

Yes, I want to learn to write well. But no, I don’t want to be a writer. That is to say, I don’t want to earn my living just by writing though I want to write just like professional writers do.

It’s true that to learn to write well is what professional writers badly need. Their very survival depends on their ability to write lucid and readable product—either in the form of a newspaper article, or a feature story, or a short story, or a novel. Otherwise, they’ll find it increasingly difficult to survive—financially and professionally. But it doesn’t mean other professionals should be exempted from learning to write well.

But, one might ask, is there a need for others to learn to write well?

I posed the same question somewhere in Jose Carillo's English Forum. Moments later, Mr. Jose Carillo, the moderator of the forum and writer of the weekly “English Plain and Simple” column in Manila Times, responded positively:

“Yes, absolutely! Of course, not everyone may possess or be able to develop the ability to write pieces that others would be willing to pay for to read, but it’s important to at least write clearly, accurately, and convincingly about one’s day-to-day needs, wants, and desires. In short, everyone must learn to communicate effectively in writing–not as an exercise of craft or art but as a means for getting oneself understood and for getting things done in a social setting.”

I couldn’t agree more. In my case, whenever I read our textbooks in professional subjects like Principles of Teaching, Curriculum Development, and Evaluation and Measurement, I often find myself bewildered. It’s not that the concepts are hard to understand. It’s just that the textbook authors' language is so full of jargon that you can’t help wondering if the authors really want to communicate with the reader or if they just want to sound academic.

As a future teacher, I won't follow those authors' lead. I will communicate—either in writing or in speech—using the clearest, simplest, and most understandable language possible. But to do that, I must learn first how to write well. I believe Jose Carillo's English Forum is one of the many places where I can learn how to write good English, which is what good writing is about.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 03:29:52 PM by arvinortiz »