“Language is the dress of thought.”

Samuel Johnson

“The difference between the almost-right word & the right word is really a large matter – it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

Mark Twain

“Proper words in proper places, make the true definition of style.

Jonathon Swift

Do you need something to teach?  Right now?

Ask your students to answer the questions below, and then compare their answers to mine.

Why is writing important?

Why do we write?  That is the question.

We write because we love.

Romeo didn’t say to his fair Juliet, “Gee….she sure is pretty.  I guess.”

No.  When Romeo saw his sweet Juliet standing on her balcony and heard her speak of love he said, “O, speak again, bright angel, for thou art as glorious to this night, being o’er my head, as is a winged messenger of heaven.”

And so, take heed of this wisdom: There is more to writing then most dream of… we write because we love.

(Wait…that was another Shakespeare reference – Hamlet.)

Also, writing is a reflection of our age – the times that we currently live in.  It is a record of who we are.  For that reason alone, writing is important.  However, writing can – and does – serve a larger purpose.  Consider Uncle Tom’s Cabin and its impact on the American Civil War.  Or consider how a good story can help a soul wile away a lazy summer afternoon.  Or provide comfort.

Writing is a reflection and record of our thoughts.

How important is the study of grammar (the mechanics of writing)?

It is very important.  Why?  You need to be able to effectively communicate your thoughts.  If a reader has to stop and think about what you are trying to say because of issues with the mechanics of your writing, then you are going to struggle to keep the attention of your readers.

What does it mean to be a writer?

A writer is someone who gets words on the page.  It’s that simple.  I am not suggesting that these words are worth reading, but you have to understand that writing – first and foremost – is about words on the page.  If you are dithering about how to construct the perfect sentence or fiddling with finding le mot juste, then you aren’t writing.  At least not much.

A writer gets words on the page.  A good writer gets words on the page that are worth reading.  There is an element of craft to becoming a good writer.  It takes practice – and reading.


How do you see yourself as a writer?

Ask yourself these two questions: Are you able to consistently get words on the page?  Are you able to discern good writing from bad writing?  Everyone has different tastes in music and writing.  However, some composers – like Beethoven, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky – are universally accepted as brilliant composers of music.  And some writers – like Shakespeare, Johnson, and Twain – are universally accepted as brilliant composers of words.

See below for a list of short stories that explore the idea of writing.

The Letter

Course: Locked Up

Word Count: 875 words

Reading Level: secondary

Genre: historical fiction

Summary: The idea of writing – communicating our thoughts through symbols – is one of the most important ideas worth teaching.  Sometimes the thoughts that are communicated through writing are mundane – a shopping list.  But other times, something as simple as a handwritten letter can have a profound impact on the life of another.