• Barbara L. Ciccarelli, PhD

Even Art Forms Require Practice

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Photo by Julia Joppien on Unsplash

Practice, practice, practice. The art of repetition can be the fastest way to master a writing task and your writing style. There really are no short cuts. You familiarize yourself with the format, the structure, the content, the citation style. Yes, there are many factors, but with practice it all comes together. This is true of all the forms of writing that we practice repeatedly. The text, the email, the journal, the blog and for some of us the theses, the dissertations, the books. Each one of these has its own writing requirements that are waiting to be mastered and shaped with one’s own personal writing style.

I once wrote close to fifty 1000 word biographical articles for publication. It was the best job I ever had as a writer. Not only did I have the pleasure of exploring the lives of countless notable male and female Americans of different descent, but the assignments contributed to shaping my writing style as well as confirmed my interest in auto/biography.

I wasn't just practicing the art of writing a certain form; I was practicing the art of shaping a life. Knowing it would be published in a notable biographical reference book for all to read, I had the future reception of these 50 some subjects in my hands. You could say to some extent I controlled their narrative, but on the other hand their stories told themselvesthrough admissions or omissions. Still one has to ask how much then can content be shaped? After all, a few words can shed a certain light on a whole document.

I remember that one of the challenges of writing the biographical narratives was that the text could not resemble text found elsewhere. This might seem obvious in terms of the rules of plagiarism, but sometimes it took a great deal of creativity to convey a certain bit of information. It was this creativity, the wrangling with sentences, that helped to make me the writer I am today. Through these assignments, I learned to appreciate and love language and the power it has to make meaning.

Furthermore, I knew I held in my hands a future reader’s entrance into a subject’s world with possible further study. Besides the biographical narratives, at the bottom of each I included citations for the reader to follow up on what I had written--to not take my word for the life story but rather interpret the primary and secondary sources for themselves. I’d like to think I was as transparent as possible regardless of how plentiful or scarce the research material was. If you are repeating a form, take responsibility for the implications of what you write. One way to look at it in this case is that you are adding to the subject’s brand. You are taking all the sources you can possibly gather on the subject and molding them into an image based on your perspective. This means your particular take on the subject is influencing the outcome, the final narrative. Once in print, this image is there to be found and seen by countless future generations.

Ask yourself three questions. 1. What has your subject accomplished? 2. Who did it matter to? 3. What significant effect did it have? What more can you ask of a teacher, a learner and most of all, a writer.

For more of Barbara's Blogs, go to www.thewaylearningworks.com/blog.

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