Writers on Writing (1)


Several Short Sentences“In your head, you’ll probably find two models for writing.

One is the familiar model taught in high school and college–a matter of outlines and drafts and transitions and topic sentences and argument.

The other model is its antitheses–the way poets and novelists are often thought to write. Words used to describe this second model include ‘genius,’ ‘inspiration,’ ‘flow,’ and ‘natural,’ sometimes even ‘organic.’

Both models are useless. I should qualify that sentence. Both models are completely useless.” (7-8)

34 thoughts on “Writers on Writing (1)

  1. I neither agree nor disagree with your claim that models are useless because I am confused with the context you are referring to. However, I will agree that writing models are completely irrelevant when it comes to generating knowledge. What matters is weather or not the writing provides some amount of original influence or takes a looks back at previous influential peace’s and provides original insight or connections. Without some form of originality or personal expression the piece lacks purpose which indeed deems the piece “completely useless”. This is true using traditional writing models or not.

  2. As much as I agree with Verlyn Klinkenborg, I must believe that what high school teachers and college professors have taught us and continue to teach us is not completely irrelevant to what society calls excellent writing. On the contrary, I believe we have put too many constraints on students (and authors is some instances) writing. Letting a student explore writing in their own way, using their strategy and then noticing their progression is what I believe Klinkenborg is trying to say. I am definitely not denying the fact that guidelines set by teachers and professors do not pave the way for the premature writers we all once were, but giving writers the freedom they need to put their true souls in it may also be beneficial to the learning experience all scholars seek.

  3. Putting a pure thought on a page has to be one of the hardest things a writer could do. We’re constantly editing in our minds before the pen has a chance to capture what the original idea even was. It’s because of these two models of writing that this becomes almost impossible to do. Not to say that these models are completely useless, but they’ve been so engraved into our minds that they’re unremarkably difficult to disregard when desired.

  4. Your brain thinks of writing in two different ways. One is for school, when you write essays, reports, and tests, that’s when you use the first side. The second side is the creative one. This is where you use inspiration and new ideas to create something new and unique. But why must we choose which one we use? What if we combined the two sides to create a new way of thinking. To be inspired about an essay topic could mean you could write the most wonderful essay that’s ever been written. Both ways of writing can suck when kept apart, but when put together your brain could create beautiful ideas that could never have been formed. Writing is such a beautiful thing, it can inspire, start a revolution, and change the world.

    • I had a similar approach to this. I feel if schools taught to use both models, rather than one or the other, we would be getting better results from students. Writing can be so moving and powerful, and many of us forget this. Including myself. Using both models together could make master pieces.

  5. The first model of writing Klinkenborg describes is something we, as high school graduates, are all very tired of. The other he describes, however, I find myself striving for sometimes. The description he gives his vague, but I understand what he is talking about. Why does he describe this one as useless? I found most of us discussing the first description in class and how it relates to the five paragraph essay we all know so well, but no one really mentioned the second description.

  6. I’ve read this quote differently than everyone else.To me, Klinkenborg was trying to sell me something. He attempts to tear down what myself and others have been using for years. I’m not saying that change isn’t good, but it seems to me that Klinkenborg is trying to say we need to change in this area of writing, and the only way to do that is to buy his book. Basically I think he just has a hidden agenda.

  7. I interpreted what Klinkenborg was saying as these models are useless by themselves. As Jacob Beartrack quoted me I feel that models themselves have no substance with out a creator and their pen. I think what Klinkenborg ment by the models being useless is that what really matters is what you as the creator are creating. All these rules, structures, and perceptions on writing are nothing without the raw material created by the author.

  8. At the start of the post he says in your head you will probably think of two models for writing. That in itself makes his final statement that both models are useless. The two models we think of are the structure in which we write, and the basis on how we judge a person writing. You wouldn’t think of your average students paper as a masterpiece of writing to be published for all to see. That’s why there is a distinction between the two models. Both models are made to occupy appropriate environments of writing. Both represent something different. Two different styles of writing.

    • This is really interesting to me, and I agree whole-heartedly. I was curious by the quote during class and actually considered buying the book because I wanted to see what he had to say. However, now that this has been pointed out to me I must say that whatever he was trying to do, he was very successful in doing that because as a reader, I wanted to read more. He did basically tear down what I thought I knew previously when it came to writing, and I sat for that 20 or so minute write and addressed that what he said was against the norm- I was intrigued.

  9. I don’t think either of there models are useless like Klinkenborg suggests. Both establish a general basis for writing structure and formula which I find important. This quote might be more convincing if it had some context and support.

  10. I don’t really know what Klinkenborg is trying to get at, is he saying that everything I’ve learnt and currently learning right now is a waste of time and money? Maybe it’s got something to do with communication, both of the models have got no real world in them. You will not talk to another human like the way you would write your paper and the poets and novelist sometimes make absolutely no sense, only they really know what they mean but they are considered works of Art.

    • I agree. I don’t fully understand what he is getting at. Or why he is saying this. I would like to see it in the context of the book to see what else is said about these models. Writing a way in which we don’t use when speaking to each other does seem less than intelligent.

  11. Writers block, aka brain fart, the absence once again of any important thought. So what exactly is writing for; conveying messages or possibly food for the brain, or maybe lyrics for the beat of a heart? I tend to think writing is a way for humans to put ideas out into the huge abyss that is knowledge and society. But this is all just my speculations, I would go as far to say that writing is the 8th great wonder of the world; it can be traced so far back in history and is projected so far into our foggy future!

    • I really like how you said that writing is the 8th wonder of the world, and I agree with your point that writing is the way we project ideas out there. When I was figuring out what to make of this whole quote above, I started thinking about kind of the same thing, that writing is an avenue for people to express their ideas and opinions and general thoughts, and that I don’t really particularly like the structure of some English classes for example where it gives you specific formats and parameters that you must follow when writing something, because creating rules for writing only compresses and snuffs out the creativity a person has to offer, and those ideas that could have been so impactful are lost. There should be no right and wrong when it comes to the way people write, because that’s how ideas come to light (I’m a poet and I know it).

  12. I’ve been stuck between two opinions. Whether this quote is right and that writing is unique and different to everyone. You can’t be told whether your writing is the correct way. But then while in class, when we were sharing our opinions, my classmate brought up the fact that we need these two models as stepping stones. They are the things that got us to start writing, to lead us to find our own way of writing.

    • I’ve been looking at this in a similar way. In some sense I agree with what I think he’s saying that anything that constrains your ideas to fit a certain model is useless, and that people do not need to qualify their own ideas. I do however think that models and guidelines can be a great way to form your ideas into a way that is more understandable for the greater audience, which can help lead into more critical writing and discussions.

      • This is what I was thinking too! I feel like we would have no idea how to approach writing a paper if we didn’t have those foundations and stepping stones. With these models I feel like we can make our own guidelines and organizations to papers. These models can be the basis of our new ideas.

  13. I will first attack this quote with another quote, taken from a fellow scholar. She said, in regards to the Klinkenborg statement, “Models have No substance without a creator and their pen.” -Cassidy Barry
    This claim identifies exactly who the soul of writing is. It is you! Since the first time you wrote your name down on a piece of paper(probably in crayon), wielded the most powerful, manipulative, tool ever bestowed upon mankind. That tool my friends, is writing and rhetoric.
    Both models can be seen as “useless”, when you realize where the ideas, diction, and emotion come from. Effective, powerful writing does not need to be condemned to rules and structure. Rather, the wandering of the mind and the compelling nature of the writer.

  14. I think what the author is really trying to say is that writing is more of free flowing activity. Where the models serve as a guideline to structure and organize our thought. Those models are useless in the sense that they confine writing rather than letting it grow. I think that is what the author was getting at, but being out context it is hard to say really what the author meant.

  15. I agree with Verlyn Klinkenborg in the sense that writing should be a natural, free flowing process. However, I also feel like some pieces of writing would not be intelligible without some sort of structure. When I say “structure”, I’m not referring to the definition taught in schools regarding MLA and such. I’m talking about formulating a base and branching off of that. It gives the author more credibility in my opinion.

    • Would you consider this “structure” of formulating a base and branching off that another model like Klinkenborg refers to?

  16. I think that the author is trying to say that the two models will not benefit a writer. Sure outlines, drafts, transitions, arguments, etc., are important but there’s something that goes beyond that. It’s what you feel inside. It’s what you want to write. It’s not what you were taught in high school or college or what you’re thought to write. It’s what you decide and feel. That is what matters the most. That is not useless.

    • This is the same why I took this quote. Having models restricts what you can say and what you think about when writing. Truly good writing comes straight from the mind, as you think it you write it and don’t let your brain judge yourself. That is just like what we do with our in class writes, it is all about trusting your pen.

  17. In my opinion writing is however the writer chooses it to be. Either way is beneficial but in my own opinion the high school college way doesn’t have much thought and emotion behind it. I feel that in high school and college when you are asked to write it is not always something you care about, so you are trying to just get the assignment completed to get a good grade and don’t put much heart into it. I feel that “antitheses” is more of a choice and has much more passion behind it and I do find it useful, so I do disagree with Klinkenborg on this.

    • I would have to agree. Why are we taught that writing must be done in a certain format or follow certain guidelines? It’s a formula that has been taught because teachers want us to get our point across in a quick manner and students spill out there information in a quick manner. It absolutely has no emotion and in many cases students are just spitting back information to get a good grade. Regardless if emotion or compassion is in the writing piece. Writing is an expression of our knowledge and is apart of us, it should not be restricted, which is why antithesis is so wonderful. It expresses the writer, which I don’t think is useless.

  18. I regard this quote by itself, as useless. It criticizes but does not offer an alternative. That having been said, I would like to read the quote in context to see what the author is trying to convey.

    • While this quote out of context can be seen as useless, (and I agree it does seem that way.) When looked at deeper, it actually offers a great opportunity for discussion and different interpretations by scholars. Thus creating a basis and opportunity for new knowledge to be absorbed. While the quote itself is not very powerful in a literary sense because of the lack of context provided, it is still useful in helping to spark a conversation, creating a debate, and leading to furthering our understanding of how we approach writing. It just may lead to a conversation asking the question “Why are we taught to write with outlines, drafts, and transitions?” or “Why are poets and novelist’s works seen as ‘genius’ while academic writing is hardly ever given that same recognition?” I agree with your statement that this quote is useless without context, but only superficially. It is indeed a useful quote for instigating new knowledge within a group of elevated thinking intellectuals eager to gain understanding about writing.

      • I would also agree that this quote is useless without context, and I also agree that the quote is made to provoke thoughts and questioning. The important thing to realize is that this is a quote from an entire book. So while Klinkenborg is quick to make a bold claim and deems these methods “useless” I’m sure his claims are backed up by evidence. (Of course I am just assuming but also I am assuming Bill would not recommend a book that just makes claims). There for the attention that this quote is gathering from everyone, is exactly what Klinkenborg or any other author for that matter is trying to reach. The rise in questions that the earlier comment makes is often the reason why people read books; to answer their inquiries.

      • I back up Terra’s claim. If this quote was simply the statement spoken I would very well find it entirely useless without the necessary context. But, Bill fortunately iterated the fact that it was a hook directed to the audience intended by Klinkenborg. It truly is a smart move. The only way the reader can get the answers they are longing to have knowledge of, is in the book he is selling to make a living. Klinkenborg’s opinion portrayed a sense of superiority over people like me. When first reading his attitude towards these two models of writing, I thought to myself, these are the only styles of writing I am familiar with, and for him to scrutinize against them seemed harsh. Consequently, I grew curious and intrigued at what other ways of writing there were in this world and how they overpowered any religiously taught styles.

  19. When you’re young you think there will be some sort of secret to growing up. That once you’re an adult like will make sense, rules will be forgotten. However this is the furthest from the truth, and the truth catches up with you fast. People will always try to put you into molds, to form you to the way that they want you to be. But realizing that you are your own being is the biggest threat you can have towards humanity. These models being useless and this thought go hand in hand because the models are what you make them, in the same way that you are what you make yourself. It doesn’t matter which way you choose to model your paper, just that you chose to write it. Nothing is useless in your own mind, but then again without knowing how to use your mind, everything becomes useless.

  20. I agree with the statement that says both models are completely useless, because I think that everyone should be able to write however they please. Everyone is knowledge so why should we try to put that knowledge all out there in the same way? Verlyn Klinkenborg is obviously a very free spirit that thinks there should be no contraints when writing. She is also being very bold making a statement like that! I would like to know what supporting arguement she could make for that statement.

    • What are these models useless to, or for? Because if you’re somebody who needs to write a persuasive essay and you aren’t proficient at making the first draft perfect and ready to turn in, then the first model depicted as useless seems to me like it could come into some use. In other contexts, I could see how this model is useless. Maybe these two are useless until put together somehow.

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