Sunday, December 30, 2007

Writing: Is It A Skill, Craft, Or Gift?

Whenever you gather writers together they talk about writing. There are many different types of writers. Those who prefer to compose in long-hand or can only write on an old-fashioned manual typewriter. Those who write to music, demand complete silence, or create best surrounded by noise. You have the writers who must plan and outline before they can begin and those who find even talking about a project before it is drafted can stifle their creativity. But one of the most controversial divisions among writers is about whether writing is a skill, craft, or gift.

I admit that I like to stir the fire a bit because I can argue all three points and depending on how my own writing is going at the moment I may find that one viewpoint carries more weight for me personally.

I know as a teacher of writing that writing is a skill. I have taken people, young and old, who loathed writing and believed they would never be able to write -- and provided them with basic tips and tools to become good basic writers. I have taken good basic writers and given them the support and direction they've needed to become skilled writers. I've watched skilled writers with practice and determination become proficient writers. I have seen this in the classroom, at writing conferences, and in newsrooms. I have witnessed this transformation enough to know that writing is a skill that can be taught and a skill that can be learned.

I know as a writer, editor, and reader that writing is a craft. As the definition reads to craft is "to make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity". A skilled writer can capture our interest and convey information, but a writer can also craft a story, poem, or essay that touches our emotions as well as our brains. For those who have gone beyond simply skilled to be craftsmen and craftswomen they can rely on their knowledge, experience, and instinct to create writing that does more than simply delivers -- it also sings.

I know as a writer and reader that writing is a gift. Some writers simply possess a special quality that allows them to step beyond and above the huddled masses. For some it is a special ability to shape words into images and ideas and for some it is a unique vision of this world (or another) that speaks to our souls in a way others cannot.

Are writers born or made? Many people argue that some gifted writers are born, but I am not convinced. Perhaps you could have some predisposition but I believe that writers are made. They are made in the rocking chair when Mother reads "Goodnight, Moon"; they are made under the cover with a flashlight when you simply must finish "The Hobbit" for the first time; they are made when you proudly pocket your first library card; they are made when you fill your first notebook; they are made when you submit your first poem, article or story for publication; they are made when you receive your first rejection; and they are made when you turn the computer on every day to write.

I believe some writers are supremely gifted but even so does that mean it was a gift given to them whole or was it a gift developed through years of reading, writing, talking, and thinking about words?

So, I believe, writing is all three -- a skill, a craft, and a gift. Some writers find their ability spans all three while others never progress past the level of skill.

Deanna Mascle has been teaching and writing professionally for more than 20 years. Find more articles about writing at

By Deanna Mascle

Graphomotor Skills: Why Some Kids Hate To Write


Handwriting is complex perceptual-motor skill that is dependent upon the maturation and integration of a number of cognitive, perceptual and motor skills, and is developed through instruction (Hamstra-Bletz and Blote, 1993; Maeland, 1992). While a plethora of information exists in lay and professional literature about many of the common problems experienced by school age children, difficulty with handwriting is often overlooked and poorly understood. Students with graphomotor problems are frequently called "lazy", "unmotivated" and/or "oppositional" because they are reluctant to produce written work. Many times, these are the children who dislike school the most. Because they are sometimes able to write legibly if they write slowly enough, they are accused of writing neatly "when they want to". This statement has moral implications and is untrue; for children with graphomotor problems, neat handwriting at a reasonable pace is often not a choice.

When required to write, children with written production problems frequently engage in numerous avoidance behaviors. They have to go to the bathroom; they need to sharpen their pencils; they need a Kleenex from their backpack. Sometimes they just sit and stare. Even disrupting the class and getting in trouble may be less painful for them than writing. Work that could be completed in one hour takes three hours because they put off the dreadful task of writing.

The following paragraphs will attempt to elucidate the various components of handwriting and the characteristics which students display when there are breakdowns in these components. Components of graphomotor or handwriting skills include visual-perceptual skills, orthographic coding, motor planning and execution, kinesthetic feedback and visual-motor coordination.

Visual-Perceptual Skills. Visual-perceptual skills enable children to visually discriminate among graphic forms and to judge their correctness. Thus, visual-perceptual skills involve the ability or capacity to accurately interpret or give meaning to what is seen. Generally a number of specific skills fall into this category including visual discrimination, or the ability to distinguish one visual pattern from another, and visual closure, or the ability to perceive a whole pattern when shown only parts of that pattern. Adequate visual-perceptual skills are a necessary but not sufficient condition for legible written output.

Orthographic Coding. A second factor important to the production of legible handwriting is orthographic coding. Berninger and her colleagues (Berninger, Yates, Cartwright, Rutberg, Remy and Abbott, 1992) define orthographic coding as the "ability to represent a printed word in memory and then to access the whole word pattern, a single letter, or letter cluster in that representation" (pg. 260). Thus, orthographic coding refers to the ability to both store in memory and retrieve from memory letters and word patterns. The relationship between poor handwriting and orthographic coding deficits has been empirically established (Berninger et. al., 1992).

Motor Planning and Execution. A third component of handwriting is praxis or the ability to plan and execute motor actions or behavior. Fitts and Posner (1967) describe motor skill acquisition as proceeding through three stages. The first phase is called the cognitive or early phase. In this phase, the learner establishes an understanding of the task and a cognitive map of the movements required to accomplish the task. In the second phase, the associated or intermediate phase, the movement patterns become more coordinated in time and space. During this phase, proprioceptive feedback (the feedback that the brain receives from the muscles and nerves) becomes increasingly important and the importance of visual feedback decreases. The final phase, the autonomous phase, is characterized by the development of larger functional units that are translated into a motor program which then occurs with minimal conscious attention.

Luria (1966) notes that a motor action begins with an idea about the purpose of an action and the possible ways in which this action may be performed. The ideas are stored as motor engrams. Thus, in order to carry out a motor behavior, we must have both the idea or image for what must be accomplished (i.e., the plan) and the ability to match our motor output to that plan. Therefore, both adequate motor planning and execution are necessary for handwriting.

Levine (1987) includes in the definition of dyspraxia difficulty with assigning the various muscles or muscle groups to their roles in the writing task. This definition focuses on the execution or output aspect of dyspraxia. According to Levine, in order to hold a pencil effectively and produce legible handwriting at an acceptable rate, the fingers must hold the writing utensil in such a way that some fingers are responsible for stabilizing the pencil or pen and others are responsible for mobilizing it. In a normal tripod grasp, the index finger is responsible for stabilizing the writing instrument and the thumb and middle finger are responsible for the mobility of the instrument during writing.

Kinesthetic Feedback. Yet another component of motor control for legible handwriting produced at an acceptable rate is feedback of the sensorimotor system, especially kinesthetic feedback, during the performance of motor actions. Luria (1966) points out that for effective motor action, there must be afferent impulses from the body to the brain that inform the brain about the location and movement of the body. The body then makes adjustments based on these impulses to alter its movement pattern until the desired pattern is achieved. Thus, it is kinesthetic feedback that facilitates a good match between the motor plan and motor execution. In writing, the writer has a kinesthetic plan in mind and compares this plan to the kinesthetic feedback and then either corrects, persists or terminates the graphomotor pattern (Levine, 1987).

Visual-Motor Coordination. Visual-motor coordination is the ability to match motor output with visual input. Although it is the nonvisual or kinesthetic feedback that is crucial for handwriting, visual feedback is also important. Visual feedback provides gross monitoring of writing rather than the fine-tuned monitoring provided by nonvisual feedback. It is this gross monitoring that prevents us from writing on the desk, crossing over lines (Levine, 1987) and staying within the margins.


Deficits in Visual-Perceptual Skills. Children with visual-perceptual problems may have a history of reading problems because of difficulty with letter and word recognition. In addition, if a child cannot accurately visually discriminate the letter b from the letter d, he/she will be unable to reliably reproduce these letters upon demand. If students have problems with visual closure, they may have difficulty with accurate letter formation and handwriting legibility may be poor. For example, they may print the letter o with a space in the top, but perceive the letter as closed. When deficits in visual-perceptual skills are suspected, they can be readily identified by informal or standardized tests.

Deficits in Orthographic Coding. Students who have trouble with orthographic coding will often forget how to form certain letters in the middle of a writing task. They frequently retrace letters or exhibit false starts or hesitancies as they write. Observations of their written output may show that they have formed the same letter several different ways. When asked, these students can usually report if they have difficulty remembering what letters look like. Children who cannot reliably make use of visual recall to form letters and words often prefer to print rather than write in cursive because print involves only twenty-six different visual letter patterns, whereas letters written in cursive have a seemingly endless number of visual patterns. Their spelling errors may be phonetic in nature (Levine, 1987, 1994).

Deficits in Motor Planning and Execution. Poor motor planning and execution is referred to as dyspraxia. Deuel and Doar (1992) define dyspraxia as the "inability to learn or perform serial voluntary movements with the proficiency expected for age and/or verbal intelligence" (pg. 100). Helmer and Myklebust (1965) discuss the role that memory for motor sequences play in correctly forming letters when writing. Luria (1966) described two forms of dyspraxia. The first form involves difficulty in creating an image of a required motor movement. The second involves a breakdown in the central nervous system mechanism that is responsible for putting the plan into action. Thus, the child has the blueprint for the action/behavior, but has difficulty implementing it motorically (Levine, 1987).

Ayres (1972, 1975, 1985) suggested that the problem in developmental dyspraxia is in the neural activity that takes place prior to motor execution. According to Ayres, dyspraxia is generally viewed as an output problem because the motor component is more observable than the sensory component. However, in her view, dyspraxia is an inability to integrate sensory and motor information, rather than merely motor production.

Children who suffer from fine motor dyspraxia show poor motor coordination. At times, they assign too many muscles to stabilizing the pencil or pen and too few muscles to mobilizing it. At other times, they assign too many muscles to mobilizing the writing utensil and too few muscles to stabilizing it. Thus, their pencil grips are often inefficient. They may develop a hooked grip in which they stretch out the tendons in the back of the arm so that the fingers move very little if at all during writing. With this grip, they are using the larger muscles of the wrist and forearm which may be easier to control than the smaller muscles in the fingers. They often perform poorly with other fine motor tasks that involve coordinated motor movements such as tying shoes or holding a fork correctly (Levine, 1987).

Another pencil grip which suggests fine motor dyspraxia is one in which the child holds the pencil very tightly and near the point when writing. Further, students with dyspraxia often change pencil grips and prefer writing in cursive rather than print. They do not like to write and complain that their hand hurts when they write. Writing for them is a labor-intensive task. Fine motor dyspraxia is frequently associated with speech production problems because these children often have difficulty assigning the muscles in the mouth to specific speech sounds (Levine, 1987, 1994).

Impaired Kinesthetic Feedback. Children with impaired kinesthetic feedback often develop a fist-like grip of the writing instrument. With this grip, they extend their thumb over the index and middle finger, limiting the mobility of the fingers. They may also press very hard on the paper with the writing utensil in an attempt to compensate for the lack of kinesthetic feedback. Further, they may look closely at the pencil or pen when writing thus attempting to guide the hand using visual feedback which is a much slower process. This is why children with impaired kinesthetic feedback may produce legible handwriting at a greatly reduced pace. As they progress in school, however, the demands placed on written output are too great and legibility deteriorates. These are the children who are often accused of writing neatly "when they want to". They also often prefer to use mechanical pencils and "scratchy" pens because these provide more friction on the paper when writing. They complain that their hand hurts when writing and they do not like to write. Performance in other fine motor skills may be adequate or good because many fine motor skills do not place such reliance on kinesthetic feedback.

Research has shown that tasks which were designed to improve kinesthetic sensitivity improved handwriting performance more than a task that involved only practice in handwriting (Harris and Livesay, 1991).

Deficits in Visual-Motor Coordination. Children with visual-motor incoordination function much differently than those with impaired kinesthetic feedback because of the different demands of certain motor tasks. Poor visual-motor integration may lead to problems with fine motor tasks that rely heavily on visual feedback. These include threading a needle, drawing, painting, craftwork, building things with blocks, repairing things, playing games such as Nintendo and using a mouse on a computer.

Complete references are available at:

By: Glenda Thorne, Ph.D. -

Photography Means Writing With Light

Did you know that Photography literally means "Writing with light?" That is correct. The word "Photo" means "light" and its suffix "graphy" means "writing." Hence a graphologist is a handwriting analyst. Bet you did not know that. So, effective use of light is at the heart of good photography. With the fancy gadgetry that is overtaking the world of photography, it is time to go back to the basics. Learn that photography is all about using light effectively.

Where am I going with this? Well, I think that with the increased emphasis on the number of MegaPixels and the intellect-snaring delusion that nirvana in photography is achieved by photoshop-ing, we are forgetting the basics. First things first, get the light, right. Should be obvious, right? When you are writing with light, you should be concerned with the quantity, location, nature, and quality of light.

Here are some basics:

1) If shooting a human subject take special care of how light causes shadows on different parts of the subjects face.

2) Be sensitive to "hot spots" being created in different parts of your photograph. Surely you do not want a shiny distractive element in your photo.

3) Look at your complete frame and see how light plays with; either by attenuating or amplifying; different elements. If a background element is being overplayed or under-emphasized, you are doing something wrong.

4) Not all your photography mistakes can be done away with on Photoshop. For instance, an image processing algorithm can never undo the crime of shooting when the color temperature is not appropriate.

5) Use a flash, but only if you have to. And then use a professional flash. The real cheap ones or the inbuilt fluorescent ones will make your pictures look unreal and also make them unappealing.

6) Make use of the best light source -- the Sun. Used effectively, it generates the best pictures.

Here is to your great handwriting -- using light.

Ajeet Khurana enjoys writing about photography at real estate at and entertainment at

How to Make Your Greeting Card Message Writing a Breeze

There's no reason why you shouldn't be able to write a great message inside your greeting cards. Trust in your ability to connect with the person your card is for and think about the reason for the card.

You aren't writing an epic paragraph. Somewhere between a few sentences and a signature is fine for most occasions. And it doesn't have to be too challenging either. If your card is really important and you're concerned to get it right - then practice first by showing it to someone else whose opinion you respect.

When you know how your message is received make a note of the following:

Read their face for a reaction (good and bad).
Did your message or mark go down well, or was it found wanting?
What can you learn about what you wrote - or didn't?
What could you improve on next time?

Listen to what they have to say about your efforts and take some time out to listen to what other people might write. You want your message to say what you really mean.

What you write and how you write it will to some extent depend on the relationship you have with the recipient.

Personally, I love giving cards - paper cards and email cards.

I give them away, plan them, create them, send them off and place them lovingly in others' hands.

For me the process of card writing is fun and stress-free. It's fun to choose and it's fun to make.

Writing the message is only part of the deal. If you've done the hard work in choosing them, you should be thinking about the one you're to give it to.

As you choose your card you might be thinking of

What they'd like.
What they'd think of the card you choose.
What the message says - and does not.
What you could add.
How you might say it/write it.
What words you'll use.
Where to write it on the card.
What kind of writing instrument (pen and ink) you'll use.

Reflecting on the whole process of thinking about, buying and then writing your message will make the whole card writing and giving process one of joy - rather than stress.

Card giving is one of our socially acceptable activities. Cards are there at all our major life events. They console, commiserate, cajole, and celebrate - amongst others.

If you start to think about the person you want your message to go to, more than what you say, then you'll be inspired to write the right thing!

Think less of yourself and more them.
Think more of the message rather than the words
Think more of the future rather than the present
Think how the words will be read and understood
Think more of why rather than how
Think less of 'what if I do', and more 'if I don't'

We are all much more capable at writing our thoughts that we think. Our own words say it so much better than a shop card with a printed greeting. If you HAVE to buy one of these then do add your own message.

Better still, use a blank card and fill it with your words - and your handwriting.

Handwriting brings with it an emotional response that will talk from the card forever. The memory of you - and what you mean to the one you give it to, will forever be part of the card. It will be part of their future memories of receiving the card.

So once you've got the message right, get the writing part right too.

Write it nicely - in a nice pen
Think about the writing instrument you use and how it will take to the paper
Not all papers take the same inks properly
Can you check it somewhere unobtrusively?
Perhaps you want to try out a new pen or a different writing style
Try a calligraphic pen and see how angles can alter your handwriting

So there you have it. Once you've got the card choose your message carefully, write it nicely and give it with love.

Everyone of these actions will give the card so much more feeling. It will help you to write your greeting with more sincerity and to give it with genuine care and affection.

As in all social skills, it 's one to be learnt. Card giving can bring out the best in us. So be in no doubt.

You'll never have to worry about what to write in a card again!

Write Your Own Love Letter in 6 Easy Steps

You want to tell your partner how you feel about them but you end up staring at a blank screen for so long you give up. Or you try a few lines only to delete them all and start over. Again. Why is it so hard to tell the loved one in our life exactly what they mean to us? Do you struggle to find the words to properly convey how you feel? Or is it that you just cant explain it? Dont let words get in the way of telling your loved one how much they mean to you.

Everyone wants to be loved. When you are busy living life, there never seems time to slow down and really savour that central relationship that makes it all worthwhile. Oftentimes we think that those closest to us know exactly how we feel about them and how important they are to us. But the sad reality is that often they dont.

So how can you write a love letter that you will feel proud to give and one that your loved one will cherish for all time? Where do you start? Follow these easy tips below and youll be on your way in no time.

1. First write down 5 things that you love about your partner and be as specific as possible. Rather than writing that they are kind, instead be detailed about how they are kind. Perhaps they always smile at waiters in restaurants or they are great at making people feel included, especially at parties.

2. Write down 5 things that they have done that confirms how much you love them and again, give examples. Perhaps they enveloped you in a hug last night when you were feeling frustrated about your family. Or maybe they knew how disappointed you were when you missed out on that promotion and they cooked a special meal to cheer you up.

3. Pick the best three examples from each of the above categories and weave them into your letter. You could start by saying I love how you and then include the three examples from the first point. Then you could say something like I loved the way you and then mention the other examples. Make sure you emphasise how their actions made you feel, how loved you felt and how grateful you are to have them in your life.

4. It is best to write up a draft first and then go over it to see if you can improve it. Sometimes it helps to write up what you want to say, edit it until it flows well and then leave it for a day or two before going back for a final edit and polish.

5. Buy some special paper and write out your letter. Dont worry if your handwriting isnt perfect its distinctly yours and your loved one will appreciate the time and effort you put into the letter. If you feel your writing is so bad it will be difficult to read or if your illegible handwriting is something youve argued about before then pay to get it hand written by a professional. At a stretch you could use a more romantic font on your computer, say Garamond in italic, but you should really only do that as a last resort. The more personal you can make your letter the more your loved one will treasure it.

6. Think about how you plan on delivering this letter to them. Will you slip it in their briefcase? Mail it? Leave it under the pillow? Do you want to be there when they open it? If you want to see their reaction, then it is best to hand it to them. You could team the letter up with a small gift like flowers or chocolate but make sure the gift doesnt diminish the letter as you want that to be the main focus.

If a birthday or anniversary or other special occasion is involved youll want to include mention of that too.

If you're still not sure you're up to writing your own love letter, dont worry. Jill Brennan has written a range of easy-to-use love templates that you can use as is or incorporate into your own unique letters. Go to:

Handwriting Analysis : Handwriting Is Brain Writing

Handwriting actually could be called brain writing. When You first began to form letters, you had to think how to make each one of them; they were somewhat shaky. It was not unlike learning to drive a car. When you first started to shift the gears you also had to think about pushing the clutch in, what gear to engage, how far out and how quickly to release the clutch. When you first started learning how to write, it was the same. But after a short time, your subconscious mind began to take over the duties of forming the letters. As you progress further, your subconscious began to learn words. Then you had only to think of the meaning and your subconscious mind sent minute electrical impulses to your hand telling you how far to go and how to make each letter within the word. Thus you began to write without conscious thought of the writing formation. In other words, your brain or subconscious mind actually formed the characters as a result of habit. The pressure of your pen and the formation of each part of each letter shows your subconscious thinking.

Writing does not reveal the age nor the gender of a writer. Probably the most amazing thing of all is that you cannot tell whether the pen or pencil was held in the hand, between the toes, or in the mouth. Since writing is brain writing, the individual character traits will still come forth, no matter how the pen is held. People do change, and so does their handwriting. Handwriting of a very changeable person will have various slants, thicknesses, and weight of strokes. Handwriting actually fluctuates with your mood. Handwriting analysis is not fortune telling. ther are in fact, many businesses which have analysts on their staff.

Handwriting Analysis not only reveals what you are and what you might have been, but also you clues as to what you might still become. It is a important diagnostic tool and is used not only for evaluation of personality, but also to great advantage in screening personnel. It has saved time, money and trouble for many large and small corporations. It eliminates employing people in positions for which they are not suited, and is used to place the right person in the right job.

The graphic gesture of expressive movement of the pen often shows many problems of human relationships. It is a key to unlock personality and open the door to understanding. Practically all information is finalized on a piece of paper. Knowledge accumulates when it is ther for permanancy and examination. The pen is indeed more potent than the spoken word. To put it another way, the pen is mightier than the sword.

Personality, emotions, intellect and energy are all revealed by your handwriting. Although it may change from day to day, the basic characteristics remain the same, what changes are your moods. Medicine or Psychology, handwriting analysis is an empirical science. It combines a study of physical and emotional factors which can enable one to better understand himself and others, to develope his strengths and cope with his weaknesses. No two people have the same handwriting, just as no two people have the same fingerprints, voice, character, or physical appearance.

Article Written By J. Foley

Handwriting Analysis - Have You Ever Been Ripped Off?

Hello all you wonderful people out there. We all know there are a lot of great people out there. We also know that there are a lot of mean people. Have any of you ever been lied to? ripped off? Have you ever wanted to kick yourself afterwards for being so nave? I have.

By now youre probably saying, What does all this have to do with Graphology? Well, getting ripped off for the umpteenth time was what finally pushed me into an IGAS Graphoanalysis Correspondence Course, one of the most satisfying and wisest decisions of my life. After completing the course I took a good look at the receipt a Solar Heating System Installer had given me. By then I was a Certified Graphoanalyst and a quick handwriting analysis revealed to me what a scoundrel the guy really was.

To date, as far as I know, I am the only IGAS Graphoanalyst in all of Israel. I hope that eventually there will be more of us here and that we will have an IGAS Israeli Chapter able to meet for mutual analyses.

Although the IGAS offices are situated in the U.S.A. today, in New Kensington, PA I was able to complete the course within the eighteen months allotted. Sending and receiving the required course material was just a post office away from my Kiryat Tivon, Israel apartment. My fingers used to tingle with anticipation whenever I opened the packages.

Graphology re Hebrew handwriting is going strong here in Israel. An important point, though, in Graphology is that the analysis must be done on the persons mother tongue handwriting. What better place to do such analyses than multicultural Israel where so many people have immigrated here from countries worldwide? Try taking a quick handwriting analysis course. It may change your life for good.

Find valuable graphology info only on The best source for free web content

By paton jackson

Handwriting Analysis

Graphology is the name given to the general subject of personality analysis based on handwriting analysis. Just as in Psychology there are various schools of Psychology Behaviorist, Psychoanalytical, and so on - so too in Graphology.

Graphoanalysis is one such school and, from my experience, the most scientifically oriented reliable field of Graphology. Graphoanalysis is personality analysis based on handwriting analysis of the slant, size, measurement, pressure, spacing, and arrangement of letters and words on the page.

Graphoanalysis is used to analyze Latin lettering languages usually written in cursive handwriting (letters joined together). Printing can also provide information as to the writers personality. To a certain extent, an expert Graphoanalyist can analyze handwriting in languages written in letter forms other than Latin lettering.

Graphoanalyists are experts in handwriting analysis. The International Graphoanalysis Society (IGAS) is the full name of the school of Graphology to which the Graphoanalyist belongs.

A Quick Handwriting Analysis can be fun at a party or a get together. The Graphoanalyst will usually convey to the people whose handwriting is being analyzed the most outstanding features of their handwriting.

A Free Analysis is sometimes given to wet your appetite for more knowledge on the subject of graphology in general and graphoanalysis in particular.

In depth handwriting analysis requires many hours of measurement of letters and analysis of the combination of traits appearing in the handwriting and is used for more serious purposes such as determining a persons job qualifications. Graphoanalysts are professionals who do this type of work.

Handwriting recognition by courts of law is a well known fact today. In court cases handwriting analysis is used to determine whether or not a signature on a document is valid. Graphoanalysts who have specialized in recognizing forgeries are called upon to give evidence in such cases and may have crucial influence on the final decision.

Find more valuable graphology info only on - Free Handwriting Analysis source.

By paton jackson