Taped on my wall, to the right of my computer’s monitor, is a picture of a light bulb screwed into a white ceramic base. It has an off and on switch and a red twisted electrical cord coming out of the base which trails off into the distance.
It’s my Light Bulb Image. Grin.
Getting the light bulb to light is the reason I teach. I delight in seeing the glow that comes from a writer when they either say to me, if teaching on site, or write to me, if teaching online... “Oh boy, I get it! I finally get it!”
“I can not teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.”
It’s that thinking that makes the light bulb turn on.
But how to get the writer to flick the on switch?
Teach them how to cook.
Teachers are master chiefs for they understand what ingredients must go into the making of a tasty and original dish.
For example let’s take how a writer learns plotting.
There are various ingredients that go into a plot such as who the character is going to be, what problem s/he is going to have to solve, the various conflicts that are going to arise on the journey through the story, whether or not there will be a villain that needs conquering and of course, will a love affair be needed.
Dump all these elements into the cooking pot called the brain, stir and let the gray cells simmer for a bit, and suddenly, out comes a plot.
That’s what teaching is all about. Giving the writer the methods and pieces that when the student understands and thinks about them, s/he can “dream” up the plot themselves.
We, teachers give them the necessary materials for the writer to use, but in the long run, it’s up to the individual writer to write. It’s up to them to light the light bulb themselves. The writer, in the long run, has to reach out and flip the switch.