Essays and Exercise
I'm writing lesson plans for the teen online writing classes I teach. This new session will cover how to write the essay. Not a popular topic with teens perhaps, but a good skill to learn whether college bound or not.
How does this relate to exercise? Well you see, it's part of my cross-training plan for writing.
My students are encouraged, through lessons and assignments, to stretch their writing muscles by trying different types of writing. Exposure to and the practice of different types of writing, I believe, is one key to growing as a writer.
How does this factor into the lessons? For the essay session, in addition to the standard assignment, I'll include exercises that provide a twist on writing the "serious essay". I might have them take the lesson's topic and put a humorous spin on it by having them write a paragraph that includes tall tale-like details. Or, we might try a Hemingway six word story, using the topic as a guide. The goal is to make students think, make it fun, and then have them write to stretch or cross train those muscles. Learning to write well is essential for good communication, but students can learn and be stretched in interesting and non-traditional ways.
And the point is...?
How does this relate to our writing? It reminded me that we need to engage in cross training exercises periodically in order to stretch and grow as writers. How? By dabbling in a different genre, doing a writing prompt or free writing, attending a conference, taking a writing course, or just taking time to play with words.
Have you done any cross training with your writing lately? What ideas do you have to stretch those writing muscles?
Speaking of Essays
So now that I've got you considering this cross training thing, here's a potential assignment. The 9th Annual Funds for Writers Essay Contest is looking for submissions. This year's theme is When Writing Made a Difference. There are two entry options, one with a $5 entry fee, and one with no entry fee. Prizes range from $300 to $20, depending on the entry choice. Deadline is October 31, 2010.
I entered the contest a few years ago, and while I didn't win, it was great practice for polishing and submitting a piece. Plus I still have the essay, and plan on submitting it somewhere eventually.
Don't forget to share those cross training ideas with us. Happy writing!
Photo credit: pawel 231 http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1272846