During an otherwise dull class I recently attended, I made an odd discovery. As a student, one of my tasks was to take the VARK test. After answering 16 questions about how you like to learn, you receive a score identifying your learning preferences.
Turns out, my preferred learning style isn’t particularly well suited for being a writer. My Read/Write score was low (2), while my Visual score was high at 8, followed by Kinesthetic learning at 4.
Hmm. My opportunistic brain wondered if I could use this information to help me with my writing.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with strategies preferred by non-Read/Write types. In the process, I’ve found writing to be much more pleasurable and stimulating. The techniques have been an especially good way way to get started on writing for the day.
Drawing on the VARK information about learning styles, here are my tips to draw on your preferred learning style for writing.
Use coloured pencils, textas, highlighters or crayons to take notes.
Draw mindmaps to outline your story.
Use coloured sticky notes on a board or table to keep track of plots.
Use diagrams to detail character relationships.
Create family trees for your characters.
Use paintings for inspiration.
Use direct experience as research. For example, if your character loves football, attend a footy match. If your character is a wine buff, visit a winery.
Immerse yourself in your character’s world. Visit the house she grew up in. Walk the streets she walks. Immediately afterwards, write about these settings.
Use meditation to regulate your body before or after writing.
Use awareness of your emotions and physicality to describe how a character feels. When you feel angry, take note of how you feel physically and write about it.
Write a monologue in your character’s voice and act it out.
Read your story aloud and record it as a way of revising.
Do research by listening to dialogue on the bus or train.
If you’re stuck on plot, talk about your story to a friend.
As a way of setting the scene, listen to music before writing.
Use dictionaries, thesauri, quotations and sentence fragments as sources of inspiration for your work.
Cherry-pick the vocabulary from a story by one of your favourite authors. Use these words as the basis for a new story.
Have you taken the VARK test? (It’s free!) Were the results surprising?
Do you use any non-Read/Write strategies to enhance your writing ‘learning’?