The first evidences of fall are here, and I am reminded of how much I love this season. For me, the fall is about refreshing beginnings . . .new routines, new (cooler!) weather, and new opportunities.
Though I welcome the summer each year with a sigh of relief from hectic school schedules, I must admit that “getting back into the routine” does my heart well. And though I much prefer the heat to the cold, I remember that waking up to 60-degree weather is heavenly. And though I need the quietness of soul that is found in familiar pursuits, I realize that I crave the excitement of new opportunities.
Well, I have been given a new opportunity.
This fall, I started teaching Business Communications, a writing intensive class for business majors, at College of the Ozarks. It has been both terrifying and exhilarating . . . just the way I like it! Already in the first couple of weeks, I have been both challenged and affirmed. I’d say that’s a pretty good start.
In determining the best way to teach the “discipline of writing” (that’s the less scary way of saying “grammar and mechanics”), my thoughts raced first to giving my students some general thoughts to consider before we barreled into the tedium of my carefully prepared PowerPoint.
“Great writers have several common attributes . . . “
- Awareness – What do I know? What do I need to learn?
- Focus – What are the distractions in my life – physical, mental, or emotional? What can I do to eliminate distractions?
- Intentionality - Will I choose to take the next step or make the hard choice in order to improve?
- Willingness to think critically – Am I willing to slow down so that I can think objectively about the task in front of me?
We discussed how the students’ possession of each of these attributes would increase their ability to succeed not only at our task at hand – learning the “discipline of writing” – but also at “truly communicating,” which, I explained, only occurs when the receiver truly understands what the sender intended to communicate.
In other words, “true” communication – whether it is for the purpose of my class or in life – takes work and a slower pace.
So, if you are a writer, I encourage you to evaluate how deeply ingrained these attributes are in your practice and to make adjustments as necessary. And, for the rest, I offer these attributes as food for thought, for I believe that embodying them allows us to experience life more fully.
I don’t know about you, but in this hectic age that tempts us at every turn NOT to practice these attributes, I need to be reminded of the simplicity and power of slowing down . . . in my writing, and in my life.