Sonntag, 11. Juni 2017

Rudolf Flesch on Writing Fluency:

Some time ago I talked to a friend of mine who, like myself, had for years been teaching an evening class in writing. Being competitors, we decided to compare notes on our experiences.
"What's your problem?" I asked him.
"My main problem," he said, "is always the same. I get swamped. During the whole period of the course, I spend every weekend buried under a mountain of papers. It's a terrific chore."
Nothing could have surprised me more. Not only were my weekends happily free of papers to correct, but on the contrary I always had just the opposite trouble: I could never manage to get my students to write enough. They just didn't produce. I tried this and that, I begged, I coaxed, I implored them - it was no use. I had long ago come to the conclusion that the average student would do anything rather than writing.
What was the explanation for this enormous difference between our two writing courses? Obviously this: My friend taught creative writing and I taught the other, practical kind. People who take creative-writing courses have an urge to write, people who take practical-writing courses have a writing-phobia.
Naturally, there are exceptions to this basic rule. About once every year, there appeared among my students a specimen of the "creative" type and I was handed long, wordy slices of autobiography, fictionalized experiences, and essays on philosophical themes. Thinking back over the year, I arrived at the conclusion that about one out of fifty adult Americans suffers from graphomania - which is defined in Webster' Unabridged Dictionary as a "morbid desire or mania for writing". The remaining forty-nine are victims of the much more common ailment of "graphophobia" - which is not listed in Webster's but certainly ought to be.
There is some statistical evidence for what I just said. In 1949 someone took a public-opinion poll in the city of Louisville, Kentucky, and found that 2.1 per cent of the voting population "wanted to write". I don't doubt that this figure is roughly true for the country as a whole. There are about 2 per cent graphomaniacs among us - people who have desk drawers full of stories and essays and unfinished novels, people who fill evening classes in creative writing, people who have the diary habit - in short, people whose nervous systems crave the activity for putting words on paper, just as those of alcoholics crave liquor.
Of course, among those 2 per cent there are a few that are successful and have made a name for themselves as authors. ...


How to write, speak and think more effectively
Rudolf Flesch (1960)

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