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Education Is Important For Writing (IMO) (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Mentor
Over the last few weeks, I've been looking into another aspect of my writing. There's something missing. An element I couldn't quite put my finger on but knew was there. I would listen to audiotapes and then read my own work, over and over and over again. I now know what it is and it's given me reason to worry. Not a devastating 'Oh, no, I'm doomed. I'll never be a good writer' worry. Let's say a legitimate concern.

I have depth enough to be a writer. I know that for certain. I can peel an onion or two. But what about breadth? I lack breadth and that's because I failed at school for one reason or another. Before you jump in and start shouting 'oh, now he's saying if you're not educated, you can't be a writer!' No, that's not what I'm saying. This is specific to me and I wondered if others have a similar problem.

I have a memory problem. I consider it broken in some way. You tell me your name, I'll forget it. You tell me your life story, your philosophy, an experience from your life, I'll remember every single word. I have an image based memory and a 'thought' based memory. If it's something I can evaluate, then I'll remember it. If it's something I can 'see' then I'll remember it. But if it's a piece of information to be simply stored, it will be forgotten in an instance.

There's the rub though. The thing I've not been able to put my finger on for many years, came into sharp focus the other day in one moment of revelation. Maybe it's denial that's been hiding it from me? Who knows. At least now I know what it is and can work on rectifying it although, because of my broken memory, I have a feeling google is going to be my main source of 'broadening' my writing.

It was actually listening to Steven King's 1408 that finally made me see. An odd story to have finally spotted it in but I'm odd so it follows. You have the main body of the story. Your typical descriptions, inner thoughts, character dialogue, character development etc. But as I listened, there was this other thing I'd never been able to put my finger on until now. Breadth. It's the simplest thing and yet has alluded me for years.

The narrative fans out beyond the confines of the actual story, into areas of 'knowledge' and observations that, on the face of it, don't have much to do with what's going on and more to do with creating a new and interesting dynamic.

It's a simple fact: The better educated you are, the more you have to draw on when considering breadth. I'll be working on that next when I've finished 'Apparition'. It's not going to be easy and will probably drive me to tears ... no seriously tears. OK, maybe not! :)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Maybe you're a genius, because you just went over my head.

It's difficult to explain when you've never been able to put your finger on before. lol So now I've got to somehow explain what that thing is I've never been able to put my finger on.

Writers often draw on many things not necessarily associated with the story. Whether it's a metaphor, simile, personification, commentary on social norms, commentary on political facts, commentary on other literary works etc. It's stored in their head, put their by education. They can write a piece of work and broaden it because a certain element of their story puts them in mind of something they learned and remembered. They're more 'learned'.

They are 'asides' and the more you know, the more 'asides' you can add. Which creates breadth.

I listen to them and think: 'I would never have thought of going there in a million years' or 'Wow, what an interesting way of expanding the idea of faith'. All sorts of information that can only be had if you're educated. Yes, research is a part of writing, but there's this innate ability by more literary types that surpass the norms of 'hack' writing. That's what I want and I want it now.
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
For what it's worth (I've always found this interesting) . . . One of my professors told me that the best writers are skilled in geometry. I've always wondered about that.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
For what it's worth (I've always found this interesting) . . . One of my professors told me that the best writers are skilled in geometry. I've always wondered about that.

It's probably not so much they are, but they COULD be, and it would apply to any higher math, not just geometry. To stick with geometry, you have to be able to:
a) learn and apply the principles
b) visualize a plan to get from the start to the finish of a proof
c) follow a logical step by step process to successfully conclude the proof

It applies to algebra, trig, and calculus, too, but geometry stands as a solid analogy. So yes, the knowledge and skill to know what you want to do and be certain how to do it is important.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
If you make classical allusion your hat’s in the ring, same with barbershop, jazz possibly.

giphy.gif
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
For what it's worth (I've always found this interesting) . . . One of my professors told me that the best writers are skilled in geometry. I've always wondered about that.


Writing is geometric because stories occupy at least four dimensions every detail has a ripple effect. I suck at algebra, but do well with geometry and obscure forms of poetry. Triangle congruency theorems also come in handy for balancing writing projects, both fiction and non. And if you work with the cliched and hated series, the tessellations of heroic archetypes are manifold and a familiar foothold to readers. I know this tale, but really, I don't...(I should probably just go back under my rock...).

The pattern recognition areas active during geometric problem solving are also utilised during writing. It is a global process, like playing an instrument, not just linear processing that usually only encompasses the left hemisphere of the brain.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Writing is geometric because stories occupy at least four dimensions every detail has a ripple effect. I suck at algebra, but do well with geometry and obscure forms of poetry. Triangle congruency theorems also come in handy for balancing writing projects, both fiction and non. And if you work with the cliched and hated series, the tessellations of heroic archetypes are manifold and a familiar foothold to readers. I know this tale, but really, I don't...(I should probably just go back under my rock...).

The pattern recognition areas active during geometric problem solving are also utilised during writing. It is a global process, like playing an instrument, not just linear processing that usually only encompasses the left hemisphere of the brain.

You see what I mean? Education.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
You were talking about ‘breadth’ and education. When I moved among, or under, super cerebral types... ...referencing Sword of Damocles/Aegean Stable, and in poetry especially, links one to tradition, ancestors and highest tier of education. I’m talking intellectuals, arms like dinosaurs. Also jazz singing and such-like as a hobby rather than drinking. This is my final post via text thumbs.
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
My suggestion, do a few LM's.
Over the last few weeks, I've been looking into another aspect of my writing. There's something missing. An element I couldn't quite put my finger on but knew was there. I would listen to audiotapes and then read my own work, over and over and over again. I now know what it is and it's given me reason to worry. Not a devastating 'Oh, no, I'm doomed. I'll never be a good writer' worry. Let's say a legitimate concern.

I have depth enough to be a writer. I know that for certain. I can peel an onion or two. But what about breadth? I lack breadth and that's because I failed at school for one reason or another. Before you jump in and start shouting 'oh, now he's saying if you're not educated, you can't be a writer!' No, that's not what I'm saying. This is specific to me and I wondered if others have a similar problem.

I have a memory problem. I consider it broken in some way. You tell me your name, I'll forget it. You tell me your life story, your philosophy, an experience from your life, I'll remember every single word. I have an image based memory and a 'thought' based memory. If it's something I can evaluate, then I'll remember it. If it's something I can 'see' then I'll remember it. But if it's a piece of information to be simply stored, it will be forgotten in an instance.

There's the rub though. The thing I've not been able to put my finger on for many years, came into sharp focus the other day in one moment of revelation. Maybe it's denial that's been hiding it from me? Who knows. At least now I know what it is and can work on rectifying it although, because of my broken memory, I have a feeling google is going to be my main source of 'broadening' my writing.

It was actually listening to Steven King's 1408 that finally made me see. An odd story to have finally spotted it in but I'm odd so it follows. You have the main body of the story. Your typical descriptions, inner thoughts, character dialogue, character development etc. But as I listened, there was this other thing I'd never been able to put my finger on until now. Breadth. It's the simplest thing and yet has alluded me for years.

The narrative fans out beyond the confines of the actual story, into areas of 'knowledge' and observations that, on the face of it, don't have much to do with what's going on and more to do with creating a new and interesting dynamic.

It's a simple fact: The better educated you are, the more you have to draw on when considering breadth. I'll be working on that next when I've finished 'Apparition'. It's not going to be easy and will probably drive me to tears ... no seriously tears. OK, maybe not! :)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
An interesting idea and thought-provoking. But, I'm not 100% certain I grasp your dilemma. When you say education, do you mean 'formal' education? For me education is more of a mindset. It's like what you are doing right now, in teaching yourself about writing. I have a lot of formal education, but I taught myself how to play the flute at the age of thirteen, and I was playing in a symphony orchestra when I was eighteen. That had nothing to do with formal education. I don't really see much difference in the process. It's more about where you are and having a vision for where you want to go. If you see gaining breadth as the next goal...then you will get there if you set your mind to it.

Have you read Educated by Tara Westover. It's a great read based on her true story. Even more interesting is this Bill Gates quote from Good Reads:

I’ve always prided myself on my ability to teach myself things. Whenever I don’t know a lot about something, I’ll read a textbook or watch an online course until I do.

I thought I was pretty good at teaching myself—until I read Tara Westover’s memoir Educated. Her ability to learn on her own blows mine right out of the water. I was thrilled to sit down with her recently to talk about the book.

Tara was raised in a Mormon survivalist home in rural Idaho. Her dad had very non-mainstream views about the government. He believed doomsday was coming, and that the family should interact with the health and education systems as little as possible. As a result, she didn’t step foot in a classroom until she was 17, and major medical crises went untreated (her mother suffered a brain injury in a car accident and never fully recovered).

Because Tara and her six siblings worked at their father’s junkyard from a young age, none of them received any kind of proper homeschooling. She had to teach herself algebra and trigonometry and self-studied for the ACT, which she did well enough on to gain admission to Brigham Young University. Eventually, she earned her doctorate in intellectual history from Cambridge University. (Full disclosure: she was a Gates Scholar, which I didn’t even know until I reached that part of the book.)

- Bill Gates

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35133922-educated
 

Matchu

Senior Member
If I was educated I could understand Shelley and his references to great antiquity, and then better understand Eliot, and then submit a second poetry submission to the Oxford Press...blah...blah...honk. Game.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
An interesting idea and thought-provoking. But, I'm not 100% certain I grasp your dilemma. When you say education, do you mean 'formal' education? For me education is more of a mindset. It's like what you are doing right now, in teaching yourself about writing. I have a lot of formal education, but I taught myself how to play the flute at the age of thirteen, and I was playing in a symphony orchestra when I was eighteen. That had nothing to do with formal education. I don't really see much difference in the process. It's more about where you are and having a vision for where you want to go. If you see gaining breadth as the next goal...then you will get there if you set your mind to it.

Have you read Educated by Tara Westover. It's a great read based on her true story. Even more interesting is this Bill Gates quote from Good Reads:



https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35133922-educated

There is depth and then there is breadth (the one I've just realised). An educated person has more knowledge to draw from, allowing them to add in details and asides. The problem is, because I lack that knowledge base, I can't give examples.

Let me try though: So you've got a landscape to describe for instance. You have flowers, grass, hills, trees, mountains and the sky. Each of those can be described in a variety of way with metaphors, similes, personification and the such. Now lets imagine I didn't know rust was brown and didn't know that rust was found on metal fencing. I was ignorant of that opportunity for a metaphor/simile. So I wouldn't be able to describe the mountains as being 'like a torn down lean-to, battered by the whether and browned from rust.'

The more knowledge I have, the more I can draw upon that knowledge to use in those ways.

But then there's other information that also broaden the descriptions and writing that go beyond simply describing and add flavour. Asides that require knowledge of a subject. You can tell from reading great writers that the knowledge isn't researched, not the amount some put in, but is rather the result of a education.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
There is depth and then there is breadth (the one I've just realised). An educated person has more knowledge to draw from, allowing them to add in details and asides. The problem is, because I lack that knowledge base, I can't give examples.

Let me try though: So you've got a landscape to describe for instance. You have flowers, grass, hills, trees, mountains and the sky. Each of those can be described in a variety of way with metaphors, similes, personification and the such. Now lets imagine I didn't know rust was brown and didn't know that rust was found on metal fencing. I was ignorant of that opportunity for a metaphor/simile. So I wouldn't be able to describe the mountains as being 'like a torn down lean-to, battered by the whether and browned from rust.'

The more knowledge I have, the more I can draw upon that knowledge to use in those ways.

But then there's other information that also broaden the descriptions and writing that go beyond simply describing and add flavour. Asides that require knowledge of a subject. You can tell from reading great writers that the knowledge isn't researched, not the amount some put in, but is rather the result of a education.

Hmmm. I understand better now what you are saying. But can you give me an example of which great writers you are thinking of?
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Just listen to this really closely and count the amount of asides and little details are there. Give it a good listen for 20 minutes or so.

https://youtu.be/xcqTmnZVnWE?t=212

Thanks for the great example. He is talented, but I didn't hear a lot about things that involve a formal education. He lightly references laws, taxes and wars, but he wouldn't have learned about that in school as he is an english major.

What strikes me the most about this example, is his creative use of his perceptions to describe things. It creates such a strong visual. Here is an example:

"Olin, the urbane hotelier, host to blonde women who wore black dresses into the night. Hirer of weedy retiring men who wore tuxes and tinkled old standards like night and day in the hotel bar. Olin who probably reads Proust on his nights off. But Olin wasn't who he had seemed. I was [registered] by his hands. Those pudgy little hotel manager's hands with their neat white cresents and manicured nails"

- Steven King

I can visualize this scene to a T, but there is not one metaphor or simile in there, well other than the night and day, which is a very mundane use of a metphor. This is the style of writing I appreciate. It's a clever use of the language, but based on the juxtaposition of the content not the words. Do you know what I mean?
 
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