Hi guys and a happy Wednesday to you! We are almost there so power through and finish the week on a high note. The “high” is not an intended pun or anything, actually, it may be in bad taste if I used it as such, given the news I heard this morning. Those watching the news may know that Reverend Bill Graham passed away and is being laid to rest at the Capitol Hill today. It is a sad day for the American Christian community. From what I know about him, he was a passionate pastor who congregated Christians around the nation with his speeches. As I listened to the commentary and speeches of those honoring him, I thought to myself that someone can have so much impact on people’s lives in their lifetime with or without realizing it. I am sure he didn’t wake up each morning and thought, “today, I will do something great!” I think like the rest of us, he woke up and thought about God’s intention for his stay on this planet is to use his skills to benefit others. And those collective daily goals turned into a lifetime of services and a legacy the nation will remember.
So today, although I had something different planned, I thought I’d be a little flexible and write a post on how to live a disciplined, productive, and fulfilling life full of service and impact. Teaching people how to structure their ideas, thoughts, and daily conversations has been part of my life since I can remember. So I thought to myself this morning, why not teach people to “structure” their lives too? And I began thinking about what I know already and how to teach people those lessons and I came up with a brilliant idea! Those who are followers of the blog know that I am a trained (and credentialed) elementary school teacher. I taught for many years and learned the art of lesson-planning through trial-and-error. To make the learning process less tedious for you, I came up with a creative approach to teach life-long learning processes through the 6 Writing Traits! Those who are unfamiliar with what the 6 Writing Traits are can read my blog post HERE or this site HERE. So here goes…
Life Lessons Explained as the 6 Writing Traits
This is probably that stage in your life when you have a million ideas in your head but are unsure what to do with them. You want to be this, you want to do that, you want to travel here, you want to get married then, etc. But, there’s no training or life experience to get you “there”. I would recommend that if you are young and have these ideas circling around in your head, get them out–write them down! Make a 5-year plan, a 10-year plan, a bucket list, a resume, or whatever, but take those ideas from your head and put them down. The second action I want you to take is to test those ideas out with friends, family, and teachers and get feedback. Write those down too! It probably won’t make sense to you right now, but when you gain more life experience, it will start to make sense. That’s what the second “trait” is supposed to be.
In a writing assignment, we advise students to structure their ideas (or sentences or paragraphs) according to the genre of the writing piece. Whether it is a biography, a research paper, or a poem, it needs to have some semblance of structure. This is what I spent most of my life learning to do. Listening to mentors, getting an education, and gaining work experience to “structure” my crazy ideas into something feasible.
This is probably the easiest for some people and for others the hardest to do–giving voice to your work and passion. While in writing, you can do that with your favorite words, setting the tone of your work in front of the world and giving it your personal touch is more complicated. It could be your personality, your humor, your wit, your generosity, anything that should remind people of you. Start by asking yourself, how do you make common goals your own? If it is to get rich, how can YOU put YOU in that goal to achieve that? Bring something fresh to the world with those ideas you had, structure them, and make them unique by infusing your “voice to them”. Do what you like and do it with passion. That’s a sure-fire way to achieving success in life.
This a fun writing trait because it is all about picking the “right” words. This is what experience has taught me. As a young college graduate with an English degree from the prestigious UC Berkeley, I was given the finest education the world has to offer. However, the last 10+ years have taught me more about “word choice” than those 4 years of reading Virginia Woolf, John Milton, or Shakespeare ever did. Knowing what to say, when and how to say it, and what to keep out of a conversation is a skill I learned through life experiences. And I continue working on it daily.
This writing trait is all about transitions. If you could ask me where I find myself today in the 6 Writing Traits scheme, I would say “Sentence Fluency” for sure. After refining my “ideas” of how I want to impact the world, I tried to ground them through education and training. Then, I started gaining the discipline between presenting my “voice” with the discipline of “word choice”. Now, I know what to say and what not to say, so the next step is to internalize it so it becomes second nature. Meaning writing my life story with no hiccups (which we know is impossible), and transitioning from one part of life to another without friction. That is what growing up is all about.
“Conventions” in writing are just as important as the other traits. When I taught, that trait was the last thing I focused on to avoid stifling creativity (ideas) and thoughts process (organization). I figured when my children will go to middle or high school that’s when conventions or grammar, as it was commonly known, will be enforced. And my students became lifelong lovers of writing and reading because of that. And I think life should be given that flexibility as well. I think as children and even as young adults, we should be allowed to make mistakes, assume things, and pave our own path. Then, when we get into the “mature” phase in life, that’s when mistakes get limited or are seen as a big deal. That’s when you are judged by the mistakes you make because you “ought to know”. That’s when you have to be really careful and “dot your i’s and cross your t’s”.
So in conclusion, life is a learning process so keep on learning and style your life according to your vision and personal ethos. Use the 6 Writing Traits as a model to do that. Happy Stylin’!