The greatest lesson I learned about writing was to treat writing as a conversation. Before then, I thought academic writing was formal, an assignment to turn in to teachers and professors.
Writing can have personality! Treating writing as a conversation took the weight off my shoulders because I could now approach writing as a conversation over coffee.
Looking at writing as a conversation felt like a new concept for me. But it made sense. For a conversation to work, you take turns discussing a topic, you sometimes give a counterargument, and you add points.
When I think of the word conversation, I usually think about in-person conversation and hearing people’s voices and the tones of their voices. We talk about pretty much everything from the weather to our troubles to our loved ones. This also applies to writing.
The underlying structure of effective academic writing–and of responsible public discourse–resides not just in stating our own ideas but in listening closely to others around us, summarizing their views in a way that they will recognize, and responding with our own ideas in kind.They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Gerarld Graff and Cathy Birkenstein
One of the things that has helped me with blogging on the days when I don’t know what to blog about is approaching blog writing as a conversation. It becomes easier for me to write a post and to ignore the voice in me that says: “You’re out of ideas!”
To give you another example related to this, I remember more than a year when I completed a connotation and denotation activity with one of my classes. I explained to them that denotation is a fancy word for the actual definition of a word and that connotation is the feelings and associations of the word.
To explain connotation, I wrote the word mother on the board, and I got different reactions from my students, some were positive, and some were negative. One word sparked discussion with my students.
So if you’re feeling uninspired, try this approach of treating writing as a conversation. What are your thoughts on something going on in the world today or something that happened in the past? What was the last idea you agreed or disagreed with? If you were having coffee with a friend today, what would you tell them?