Craft Your Writing

I really liked this assignment but I stopped using it. I saw it as regular reflective writing but students saw it as busy work. Regardless, the articles are still good but I would be selective about which are more needed for your students.

I’ve been using articles from The New York Times to help my students improve their own analysis and writing throughout the school year.

How to video

Sample student essay

Craft Your Writing 32

In “Should We Write What We Know”, written for the New York Times in 2012, Ben Yagoda analyzes the value of writing about topics that we know a lot about. Yagoda tells us that we are often encouraged to write about topics that we are knowledgeable and passionate about, as it is assumed that this will allow us to write at our fullest capacity. However, Yagoda believes that this is not necessarily the best way to go about things. He argues that writing about what we know can make our writing boring and full of minutiae, which can cause readers to become disinterested. Yagode encourages us, when writing about topics that we know, to imagine someone reading over our shoulder. He believes that this will dissuade us from being overly technical, and will make our writing more interesting.

After reading this article, I found flaws with my writing. I often write about topics I am familiar with, as I am comfortable and at ease when writing about them. However, my writing can become overly detailed and technical, and can often bore those reading it, who are not as familiar with my topic.

After reading this, I plan to imagine that someone is always looking over my shoulder while I write. This will prevent me from becoming too technical or wordy in my writing, and will prevent readers from losing interest midway through my writing.


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