advice and curriculum

Posted on Posted in journal

A couple of months ago, I had the idea of compiling snippets of writing advice as I came across them. Because it would be amusing to have all the contradictions smacked up against each other on the one page. Not as some pedantic effort to prove the world is malign or to wallow in cynicism, but to remind myself that this is all subjective.

I'm a product of a structured learning environment — 13 years of primary and secondary schooling, 5 years of University. Granted, uni was much more into the "learn it your way" approach; but at the same time, an engineering degree has taken 4 years for a very long time, and the content they're trying to teach in those 4 years has only grown over that time. So subjects try to encompass and assess more, for less credit points so yet more subjects can be squeezed in. (I'm not complaining, I loved it. Just saying.) That sort of pattern concertinas available time, and when time is short a structured and inflexible approach to learning is the outcome.

So one of the things I keep banging my head against with writing is that it is Patently Not Structured. I know this, I know it. And yet, somewhere, drilled into my marrow, is an expectation that if I just look in the right place I will find a syllabus. I've countered this by studying whatever pops into my head at random. (And I really do like the freedom of setting my own course. Entirely up to me! Whee…!) That's the way this writing stuff works, of course: you write, and you see if it works. If it doesn't, you can try to figure out why. Or not. Either way you write some more, and this time there'll be new things working (and new things failing).

But it's pretty common for new writers to seek out advice from those who've Made It. And it's common for those who've Made It to want to pay back into the community, so they're generally helpful and offer advice. But of course the advice you can gather is often contradictory, and must be taken in a variety of contexts, including the type of writer you are (or might become), the type of writer the advice-giver is, the specific problem you're trying to fix/study at the time of your questioning (and whether you articulated it well enough to get the message across)… The list is endless.

Hence my idea of gathering advice. Something to look over and make me laugh. Sadly, I never got very far with the idea — I scribbled down the url's to Scott's writing advice articles, then looked at my clarion notebooks and thought …ahm… maybe a bit later…

Something I am going to do is make a list of limyaeel's rants. Because LiveJournal's memories page is clunky and turns me off reading the list for what I want. Which is not good when there's nearly 300 entries to wade through. I'll let you know when the list is up.