How Supple A Spine

Along the lines of last week’s post, we’re going to look at the flexibility strong writing gives us. There are two schools of thought, literally.

Look at writing programs around the country and you’ll find that most concentrate in one area, such as Technical Writing, Communications (Marketing), Instructional Design, Creative Writing… the only problem with that is that most of those disciplines don’t take a strong writer that long to learn.

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Be Twisty with Skill!

The other school of thought is to focus on strong writing the first year, then hit each area of writing for a semester. Pensacola Christian College’s writing program (my daughter is now rolling her eyes because I talk about this program a lot), is just that and it’s the best program I’ve seen.

As someone who hires Instructional Designers, you’d be amazed at how many can’t write.

I’m not saying you have to go to school to learn how to write. I am saying that if you are a very strong writer, you can learn another writing discipline quickly. The reason I like PCC’s approach is because it was mine across 30 years. I began with writing essays and short stories, then in college, papers, and in my major plays where I learned structure and that every kind of writing has its own unique structure. Plays and screenplays have rigid structures, stories and novels, less so, but still structure. It gave me the ability to look for structure, and once you have that, the rest fills itself in.

I continued to learn writing though trial and error after school, a bad novel (with potential), more plays, a couple screen and teleplays. Then working at Boeing, I took a class in Technical Writing and found it easy.  Years later, I learned instructional design in an afternoon. Still later got a certification in copywriting. In all of these, I was at the top of the class. Not just because I’m handsome, but because I had the foundational tools to begin with. Then I worked for a company writing resumes and got the best editing I’d ever received, that served all my other writing.

For a few years, I was a ghostwriter. My theatrical background helped me easily capture someone’s voice. I wrote a dozen books, learning from each of them.

PCC shoved that all into 4 or 5 years. Of course I’m a fan.

I have other friends who wrote newsletters, skits, blogs, and produced a wonderful novel with more to follow (read about her in my forth-coming book around the end of the month (you’ll see an announcement here)).

I’ve spent the last 20+ years making a living with different forms of writing. Typically for a company because I suck at self-promotion. It began with strong writing skills.

If you’re a strong writer, you have amazing flexibility. Having a dream is important, but paying the bills is pretty good, too. I’ve heard someone say if you want to finance a writing career, dig ditches because if you write for your day job you won’t have anything to give your dream. There’s some truth to that. But not always. It might slow you down or it might fire you up, because, hey, I write every day. And I have three books of my own and three strong screenplays. It works out.

Refine your skills and enjoy the suppleness it gives your creative spine!

2 thoughts on “How Supple A Spine”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. A solid foundation of good writing skills allows a writer many opportunities. In my eclectic writing career, I’ve written or edited children’s books, news articles, sci-if novels, technical proposals for the government, theological studies, marketing materials and more. The PCC program sounds great! On the graduate level, I admire the Spalding School of Creative and Professional Writing (where I’m studying). It offers a one-semester Certificate in Writing (Professional or Creative), which focuses on a strong base of skills. It also offers a 35-credit Master of Arts in Writing and a 65-credit Master of Fine Arts in Writing. A student can start in the certificate program and advance to one of the others, or demonstrate ability equal to the certificate and enter one of the other programs directly. Either way, an adequate foundation is key.


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