RE: techwriting style vs press release

Subject: RE: techwriting style vs press release
From: "Steve Janoff (non-Celgene)" <sjanoff -at- celgene -dot- com>
To: "Porrello, Leonard" <lporrello -at- illumina -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2012 10:30:20 -0700

Hear, hear! Nicely put.

In fact I think poetry would be the pinnacle of such writing, far more so than writing ads. With poetry, not only do you cram ideas into few words, but you cram images and, most importantly, emotions. Ads can have some of those things but the goal is selling, whereas with poetry it's conveying inner experience.

Poetry is on the to-do list and I can't imagine a better way to hone one's writing skills and method of self-expression.

Steve

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of Porrello, Leonard
Sent: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 8:53 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: techwriting style vs press release

And once again American anti-intellectualism rears its ugly head. The poet is one who has mastered the most difficult aspects of language. Going back to Plato, most if not all of the greatest prose writers in the western intellectual tradition were also poets.

Why would anyone want to keep students away, for any amount of time, from the best examples of great writing that our culture has to offer? If everyone who wanted to write were trained by a poet, the airwaves and internet wouldn't be so full of nonsense. Technical documents wouldn't be so poorly written. The problem with commercial writing isn't that writers can't master story telling or economy or who, what, where, when, why, and how. It is that they have no poetic sense.

If aspiring writers were trained by poets, they would learn that writing is a process and that the first part of that process, and arguably the most important and most difficult, is invention. The second part of the process, which is what some of the contributors to this thread seem to be so in love with, is revision. Revision is also important. However, to teach revision before you teach invention is to castrate the creative process. Creativity cannot be taught; it can only be nurtured. Revising and editing, on the other hand, can be taught.

Any student who wants to write needs to be exposed to great writing, a lot of it; he needs to be nurtured; and he needs to be edited mercilessly and in turn learn how to edit. This is educational process that every great poet and great writer has gone through. Exercises in journalistic writing and ad writing are useful only alongside the types of studies that enable one to produce an idea in writing that is worth revising.

-----Original Message-----

I've seen this happen also. I think that students should avoid English classes that first semester and take Journalism 101 instead. But it'll never happen. Too many poets running the English Department in every college. "Don't stifle creativity. Our Department might discover the next Plath or Stein."

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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: techwriting style vs press release: From: Bowes, Rebecca
Re: techwriting style vs press release: From: Peter Neilson
RE: techwriting style vs press release: From: Brian.Henderson
RE: techwriting style vs press release: From: Porrello, Leonard

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