Demystifying Writing

As a poet, I love the art of words. Reading Wallace Stevens, or translations of Tomas Tranströmer, I only wish I could be so artistic.

As a writer and educator, however, I’m pained to see everyday people think they can’t write at all because school taught them it was hard. Writing is not hard! It is little more than speaking on paper. If you can speak, you can write.

Let me try a quick analogy. If I hand you a piece of paper and a pencil and ask you to draw me a map from the center of town to your house, chances are you’ll produce something that’ll get me there. On the other hand, if you think every map has to look like Picasso drew it, you’ll be afraid to even try. That’s most people and writing.

There is a place for art—whether Picasso’s painting or Pinsky‘s poetry—but a letter or a report or a memo or an email or a blog posting is just a piece of writing. So stop being so shy.

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