How much do I want to read more? 6/10

I enjoyed reading here and there a few part of the book. Some of the author's messages I like:
Writting is about clarifying one's thoughts, and thus, writing go hand in hand with learning.
The fear of writing comes from the topic, if we switch to one of our passion, we surely can write about it.
The author approve writing as to inform, but also as to discover and explore oneself.
Overall, this book is motivating to write, and learn. It gives good perspective that differs from traditional school system.


I wrote this book to try to ease two fears that American education seems to inflict on all of us in some form. One is the fear of writing. Most people have to do some kind of writing just to get through the day—a memo, a report, a letter—and would almost rather die than do it.

The other is the fear of subjects we don’t think we have an aptitude for. Students with a bent for the humanities are terrified of science and mathematics, and students with an aptitude for science and mathematics are terrified of the humanities

writing is a form of thinking, whatever the subject.

The chemistry student who freezes at the mention of Shakespeare or Shelley can write surprisingly well about how oxidation causes rust

I thought of how often the act of writing even the simplest document—a letter, for instance—had clarified my half-formed ideas. Writing and thinking and learning were the same process.

2. Writing Across the Curriculum

Their real subject is literature—not how to write, but how to read: how to extract meaning from a written text. That’s what they were primarily hired to teach and what they were trained to teach.

Students should be learning a strong and unpretentious prose that will carry their thoughts about the world they live in.

Another powerful element in learning to write is motivation. Motivation is crucial to writing—students will write far more willingly if they write about subjects that interest them and that they have an aptitude for.

The hard part, as in swimming, is to take the plunge. The water looks so cold. Can it be warmed up? I think it can. The way to begin is with imitation.
We all need models, whatever art or craft we’re trying to learn. Bach needed a model; Picasso needed a model; they didn’t spring full-blown as Bach and Picasso. This is especially true of writers. Writing is learned by imitation. I learned to write mainly by reading writers who were doing the kind of writing I wanted to do and by trying to figure out how they did it.

Writing organizes and clarifies our thoughts. Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own. Writing enables us to find out what we know—and what we don’t know—about whatever we’re trying to learn. Putting an idea into written words is like defrosting the windshield: The idea, so vague out there in the murk, slowly begins to gather itself into a sensible shape. Whatever we write—a memo, a letter, a note to the baby-sitter—all of us know this moment of finding out what we really want to say by trying in writing to say it.

4. Writing to Learn

“An idea can have value in itself, but its usefulness diminishes to the extent that you can’t articulate it to someone else.

It forces us to keep asking, “Am I saying what I want to say?”

5. Crotchets and Convictions

there are two kinds of writing. One is explanatory writing: writing that transmits existing information or ideas. Call it Type A writing. The other is exploratory writing: writing that enables us to discover what we want to say. Call it Type B. They are equally valid and useful.

My advice to Type A writers begins with one word: Think! Ask yourself, “What do I want to say?” Then try to say it. Then ask yourself, “Have I said it?” Put yourself in the reader’s mind: Is your sentence absolutely clear to someone who knows nothing about the subject? If not, think about how to make it clear. Then rewrite it. Then think: “What do I need to say next? Will it lead logically out of what I’ve just written? Will it also lead logically toward where I want to go?” If it will, write the sentence. Then ask yourself, “Did it do the job I wanted it to do, with no ambiguity?” If it did, think: “Now what does the reader need to know?” Keep thinking and writing and rewriting. If you force yourself to think clearly you will write clearly. It’s as simple as that. The hard part isn’t the writing; the hard part is the thinking.

Type B writing—exploratory writing—requires no such cogitation, no prior decisions about which road to take; the road will reveal itself. Today many of America’s best writing teachers believe that this is the only kind of writing worth teaching, especially to young children. Unlike Type A writing, which they consider mainly a technical skill, Type B writing is a voyage of discovery into the self. Only by going into uncharted territory, they feel, can a writer find his potential and his voice and his meaning. Meaning, in fact, doesn’t exist until a writer goes looking for it.

7. Art and Artists

Good art writing should therefore do at least two things. It should teach us how to look: at art, architecture, sculpture, photography and all the other visual components of our daily landscape. And it should give us the information we need to understand what we’re looking at.