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How to Teach Writing

Writing is something that every one of us indulges in to some degree during our lives. We write at school and at college, at home and at work, and while we may not be putting pen to paper writing on a computer is still writing. Teaching writing takes patience and common sense, yet you do not have to be a classics master to teach people the basics of writing. Most of what is to be taught combines common sense with getting the best out of an individual technique and, as such, follows a pattern.

If you are intending to teach creative writing then the important factor to remember is that everyone is different; what one person writes will bear no relation to what another produces, and that is why writing - creatively and originally - is such an important aspect of our lives.

If we all wrote in the same way, with the same style, nothing would progress; we would be stuck in a rut and all reading the very same thing. This is why the major aspect of teaching creative writing is in helping the writers to engage with and develop their own style.

Everyone has a style, a preference in the way they use words, and reading a selection of contemporary short stories is a good indication of this. It is nurturing this style that is part and parcel of the teaching process.

Of course, there needs to be great attention to grammar and spelling; while computer spell checkers can be used to some extent in the respect they should not be relied upon as they cannot be completely accurate.

Grammar is one of the English languages most difficult aspects, for it is a language with many strange nuances; teach your pupils the correct use of the apostrophe, comma's, the capital letter and the full stop and you will be half way to getting them on the right track. In particular, apostrophes can be very troublesome indeed.

Once they have the basics of grammar mastered the trick is to bring out the inner self; set them a task that involves describing something very ordinary - a picture, a scene, an incident - and tell them to write about it in their own manner. This will enable them to nurture their style and keep on the right track.

An important thing to remember is that, grammar aside, there is no right and wrong with writing. You may not like the way a pupil writes, but others will - do not stifle creativity, encourage individuality and bring forth the original.

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