What’s your learning style?
Figuring that out for yourself could help you figure out what your most successful approach to writing could be. Read on for more…
There are some different schools of thought when it comes to learning styles, but the ones I want to focus on are visual, auditory, and tactile.
Visual learners learn by seeing. Auditory learners learn by hearing. And tactile learners learn by doing.
All my life, I assumed I was a visual learner. I like to read more than I like to hear people explain something to me. I vastly prefer written-down books to audiobooks. When I need directions to get somewhere, I’d much prefer having the instructions written down than someone telling me. I like things in writing; I tend to forget things I hear.
Fast-forward to my freshman year in college. I was taking an in-over-my-head course on philosophy. The first week, I had to read this incredibly dense essay and then write about it. I can remember the panic that went through me reading this text. I couldn’t make sense of it. I was someone who was good at school all my life, and I wasn’t going to be able to figure this out. I went to talk to my professor and listened to what he had to say. I read my little eyes out. And still I couldn’t figure out how to write this paper.
And so, the night before the paper was due, out of options, I just started to write. And something weird happened.
Even though I didn’t think I understood what I was reading, somehow through writing about it, it started to make sense.
Then I thought about my approach to directions. I am notoriously awful at getting anywhere. You tell me which way to go, I will get lost. You write out instructions for me, I will probably still get lost. The only way I don’t get lost? Having a map with me. And I need to hold the map out in front of me in the direction I’m going and pretend I’m in the map in order to figure out where to go.
Same thing went for when I first bought my DSLR. I read through the manual, asked my photographer-cousin for help, got nowhere. Then I just started using it. And lo and behold, I learned how to use it.
I don’t learn by seeing words, or hearing them. I learn by doing it.
When I first set out to write a novel, I read close to a million books on writing. I took a class on how to become a writer. I thought that was the best way to learn how to write. Every time I sat down to start writing, I would panic at the blank screen, and go back to all the notes I’d taken on how to write from the books and my class. It took me a year to actually start writing the damn thing.
And guess what? I learned more in that first week of writing than in the entire previous year spent reading and listening about how to write.
I learn by doing.
This approach can seem counterproductive. Doing something, subsequently messing up, and then taking what you’ve learned to do it over again, seems more time-consuming than just learning how to do it properly in the first place. But see, the only way I learn how to do something properly is by jumping in and doing it. I can’t really be taught any other way.
Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you can read a few good books on writing (or listen to them!) and that’s all you need to learn how to start writing. But if you happen to be in that thinking-of-writing-a-novel-panicking-about-how-to-start phase and nothing is working for you–may I suggest that you just do it?
Write hard, write fast, write badly. Above all, learn as you’re doing these things. Rinse and repeat, until someday, the “badly” part drops away, and you’re just writing.
What kind of learner are you? Does it influence the way you learned/are learning/will learn how to write?
Cool image found here
3 thoughts on “How to Use Your Learning Style to Adjust Your Writing Style”
Yes! I think that doing is the best way to learn overall. Because it’s much easier to improve your writing if you first have something of yours to look over and critique. Trial and error then improvement! 🙂
I wonder if all of us are actually tactile learners, but have been so trained in either visual or auditory learning (the predominant classroom teaching techniques), that we believe we must be one or the other. Thinking about how people learned to do anything — hunt, plant, cook — before writing, the teaching/learning would have been hands-on. Reading became the best way to acquire vast amounts of information, and instructions were part of that. But our roots are tactile.
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That’s a really good point–I bet you’re right
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