Writers Never Wholly "Vacate"
We do try, but our creative and correcting minds don't totally turn off when we are away. I spent a great 10 days in Missouri and Washington State, and hope you had or will have a break, as well.
Here are a few things that I noticed in my travels:
July 22, the day we left, I was scanning the Washington Post at the airport when I read this about the resignation of Susie Wiles, Jon Huntsman's campaign manager:
The move comes weeks after Wiles oversaw Huntsman's campaign rollout, which was riddled with errors, from a misspelling of the candidate's name to an annoucement that was staged poorly for television.
Ouch again--Proofreading gets down to the basics.
Here was the sign on our table at a restaurant in St. Charles, MO (history trivia: launching-off point for the full Lewis & Clark expedition):
Not one use of "it's" instead of "its," but three.
Student writers have the same needs as the rest of us (and vice versa).
When I visited a good friend who is director of the Center for Instructional Development and Research at the University of Washington, I picked up a few information sheets, including one on "helping student writers succeed." Students write better when--
- Goals for the assignment and criteria for success are clear.
Takeway: When we get a new writing project, we need to know the intended audience, objective, and what will make the piece a success. When we assign one, we need to make sure the writer gets our drift.
- When they are familiar with the task and have opportunities to practice.
Takeaway: Before giving a new employee a high-profile, mad-rush job (or taking it on yourself), start out with some lower-stake assignments.
- When given feedback and the opportunity to respond.
Takeaway: Especially for a large project, check in at regular points, with an outline or at least a conversation or email. If you have a model finished product in mind, don't keep it a secret!
A journal is universal.
On the airplane home, I sat next to a young man from North Carolina who just spent a month on the West Coast (and the night before sleeping at Sea-Tac, which I did not find so surprising after crowded up next to him for five hours in flight and two hours of weather delays). But my heart warmed when he took out his marble-bound composition book journal. I did not peek at his and I don't think he peeked at mine.
Okay, the vacation is over. Time to get back to work!