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Greg Salyer

Writer, Thinker, Traveler

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The Art of Writing in Life and Work

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Greg Salyer

Writing is our most potent technology. It is also our oldest. It's a skill we learn early but rarely fully master. Even our best writers write about the difficulty of writing—the maddening attempt to say what we mean in a way that can be understood by others.

I've been writing, and learning to write, and teaching others to write my entire professional life. In fact most of what I do now involves writing, and I bet the same is true of you. While most of my work has been in a university setting, I believe that those who want to write shouldn't have to go to an institution to do that.

The most lasting lessons I learned from writing came from a nameless group of copy editors at the publishing house for my first book. I had submitted my manuscript and waited for the minor corrections to come back. There was nothing minor about what filled the margins of my pages. At first I was offended. I mean, after all, I have a Ph.D. in literature. How dare they correct me! But then I stepped back and looked at their corrections and suggestions. They were right, and they made my book much, much better. It was a hard and good lesson; namely, we never finish learning to write, and we need each other all along the way.

Here's what that will look like in this class:

  • Week One: Mini-lecture titled Focusing (Ten-minute video lecture on understanding the nature and purpose of the project, addressing the particular audience, and focusing essential ideas and strategies)
  • Week Two: Mini-lecture titled Getting Words on the Page (Ten-minute video lecture on beginning to write, whether and how to outline, and the nature and purpose of drafting)
  • Week Three: Mini-lecture titled Finishing (Ten-minute video lecture on the importance and benefits of revising, killing off your "little darlings," and knowing when you are finished.

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