Writing isn't easy (but here's how to make it less difficult)

I'm going to start this post by admitting that I always enjoyed writing. I'm not a very verbal person - I listen much better than I talk - and I always find it easier to write my ideas and feelings, rather than talk about them.

Not everyone is this way, however. After fourteen years of teaching, I know that there are a lot of students who don't like writing for many reasons: 
  • They don't trust a process that is not automatic. Speaking is easy (for some people!) - you open your mouth, you move your tongue, teeth and lips, and you have spoken.  Writing well means more preparation, more thinking about language thinking about the person who is going to receive what you're writing...and more steps can mean more possibilities for making mistakes.
  • It's a lot of work. Even if the work helps students improve, that still doesn't mean that they like it. There are a lot of students who won't do work, whether they think it helps them - or not.
  • They feel self-conscious about writing something down because they think the mistake will be there forever. In contrast, if you say something silly or ridiculous, it only exists as long as the other person hears or remembers the mistake. (And trust me, some people have VERY long memories of mistakes.)
Are you one of those students who doesn't like writing?  This video provides a quick review of the seven pieces of advice that I give my students so that they find writing less stressful.

The focus of the video is on things that you do in your own language, anyway - they're universal things  that you probably do in your own language, but which take a little longer when you're writing in English. Here are some other things to remember....
  • Perfect doesn't exist. "I want to do it perfectly," a student says. There is no perfect. "Perfect" is an excuse that people use so that they don't have to do anything at all. Good enough is fine. Don't put yourself under pressure to create something that is impossible. 
  • If you don't know what to write, write anything. Keep your pen or pencil moving. Keep typing. It is always easier to fix what you have, instead of trying to fix what doesn't exist. Even if you have to start a writing by writing this is crap, this is crap, this is crap, this is crap....
  • Writing is a skill. Like any other skill, such as playing basketball, dancing Argentine tango or surfing, there is only one way to get better: practice more. It's work, not magic, that makes people get better.  

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