February 3, 2014

Writing is Personal and Always Changing

There is a huge difference between writing and grammar.

I'm trying to teach my students to write. Writing is personal. People develop their own style, voice, personal interests, and mistakes. But, because of the personal nature of the medium the mistakes are interpreted and misinterpreted differently between different people.

Grammar is not personal - it is a set of rules and regulations. You always do this here and you never do this here. If this happens then this happens. Grammar is meant to be algorithmic - once you figure out the secret formula you are set.

But, that's not writing. When do I use a contraction? Sometimes you avoid them to sound more academic, but a the same time you use them to avoid the sound of self importance or even arrogance.

Students need to develop voice and personal style. Those things make people want to continue writing. Grammar develops obedience to rules.

If anything, the concepts, or rules, of grammar should be taught so people can learn how to bend and break them in their own styles.

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