My first task with new students is always to help overcome any anxieties they may have with regard to expressing themselves on paper. Most people find that, following a little guided practice, they can write much better than they thought they could, given effective and constructive criticism. What has seemed like drudgery to the student writer, perhaps because she has not been progressing, can be readily transformed into an enjoyable experience by building on success. I like to proceed in small steps until writing with clarity and power comes as naturally as breathing. Along the way we take care of small distractions like spelling, punctuation and grammar so the thought can shine through, unimpeded.
I have found that choosing the optimal word is usually more important than showing off a big vocabulary. I love sharing other techniques for bringing the reader's focus to the ideas being communicated and freeing their attention for doing so by eliminating "noise."
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