People leave scars on you.
Some are painful, deep and lasting.
Others are less so and polish out over time.
My fourth grade teacher left one that’s stayed with me, but thankfully did no lasting damage. Yes, she commented on my writing.
Mrs Williamson (AKA the she-devil-of-the-time), took a dislike to my writing. Her vitriol began, “It’s too mature” and what followed was as bitter and burning as the acid of the same name.
My parents reeled at the injury.
I on the other hand, typically worked harder at raising her rancour.
Hours were spent toiling (in pre-computer, but not quite slate and chalk times) to perfect both my style (handwriting) and substance (content). And with enough practise, comes mastery.
It worked a treat.
We parted ways at the end of Grade Four as hated enemies; both marked by the battle of wills.
Thinking back, there are many people you could attribute to having affected your writing. In good ways and bad.
But according to the poet, writer and teacher Betty Sue Flowers, there are four little known characters who affect you every time you write.
In 1997, Dr. Flowers introduced The Flowers Paradigm – a method to help minimise the problems and maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of your writing.
It broke the process down into four sequential steps – each one based on a character or personality that we all have within us:
1. The Madman
This personality generates ideas and rushes around gathering information. Here you don’t worry about structure or correctness, you’re often sloppy and you get carried away with your ideas.
2. The Architect
This personality takes over and organises your information. Connections are made between the madman’s ideas and the structure starts to take shape by drawing up an outline – no matter how simple – with a beginning, middle and an end. The outline should encapsulate the root idea of your narrative.
3. The Carpenter
At this stage the carpenter builds your draft. By following the Architect’s plan, the Carpenter more formally puts your words down – laying them out into sentences, and paragraphs. However it’s important to remember two things: a) that some architectural details have been purposely left (by the architect) for the carpenter to refine, and b) do not let the judge enter the room when the carpenter is at home.
4. The Judge
Here, your editing character comes to the fore. This character manages quality control and polishes your work to produce the final version.
The job of writing becomes more manageable by thinking of it as a series of smaller tasks instead of one huge one.
In an hour long writing session you can spend 10 minutes with the Madman, 10 with the Architect, 20 with the Carpenter and a final 10 with the Judge.
Then you have another 10 minutes left to fluff around and be whoever you want to be at that moment!
Who affects your writing?
Is it your primary/grade school teacher? Perhaps your high school English teacher who told you that you’d never write?
Or maybe your lavender smelling aunt who shared her wisdom on how writer’s never made any money?
Let us know who was pivotal (in hindsight) in your writing, in the comments.
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