Monday, December 6, 2010

for the time being...

I've come to a kind of temporary decision about this blog; until further notice, I will try to blog daily but I will do so under the rubric of a "free write" exercise. I used to assign these when I was a sessional instructor (lowest form of vertebrate life) at Colourful U. Teaching English to "students with no known native language".

From time to time, though, I would teach a senior-level course in writing non-fiction prose, with a great gamut of students from the already-published, to the "barely passed first year survey, needs to learn more English".

This was NOT an English as a Second Language course, just to be clear about that.

And the best timetable of all was the intersession or summer session one -- 2.5 hours a day, every day, for six weeks. If you do ANYTHING for 2.5 hours per day for six weeks, you are going to get better at it. You flat out cannot help yourself. It's nature.

Used to start those sessions with a "free write" -- I would set an aphorism or a limerick or a definition or a contentious remark of some sort as a starter and say, "GO, just as hard as you can go, for ten minutes. Do not lift pen from paper. If you don't know what to write, write 'I don't know what to write' and repeat until something occurs to you."

There was some resistance to this gambit. Especially from young ladies of East Asian extraction, "No, no, Dr. Rambler, this is not correct, must first make careful outline of thoughts, then organize, then write..." Much minor-key moaning, or maybe keening, when I forbade them to write outlines in advance.

It's not a bad way to start to write a sermon either, I have found, since then. Stream of semi-consciousness, perhaps. At least, it gets the throat cleared. Or the mind snaked.

And this was a 10 minute free-write. I'll find a pic to head it up, and then sign off. See you tomorrow. Keep the faith. Try to behave yourselves.