Interviews,  Show Notes,  Writing

Episode 40: The Art of Writing, Part 1

This week on The Literary Life podcast, Angelina, Cindy and Thomas sit down with Karen Glass for a conversation centering on the topic of writing. They discuss the problem of trying to teach writing in a formulaic way. They also talk about the challenge of helping students learn to think well in order to write well.

Karen highlights narration as a tool to teach thinking well in the form of oral composition. Cindy digs into the idea of imitation as an integral part of the learning process. Angelina and Karen both emphasize the importance of addressing skill and form on an individual basis, depending on what your student needs to improve.

Tune in again next week for Part 2 of this great conversation!

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Commonplace Quotes:

To write or even speak English is not a science, but an art. There are no reliable words. Whoever writes English is involved in a struggle that never lets up even for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective, against the encroachment of Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the language is cluttered up.

George Orwell

Rhetoric, or the art of writing, is not governed by arbitrary laws. Its rules are not statutes passed long ago by some assembly of critical scholars; they are merely common-sense principles derived from the observed practices of persons who have succeeded in writing well,–that is, from the method of good authors. Hence, when we study composition, we investigate these methods, in order to apply them in our own writing.

from “Manual of Composition and Rhetoric”

When a child is reading, he should not be teased with questions as to the meaning of what he has read, the signification of this word or that; what is annoying to older people is equally annoying to children.

Charlotte Mason

Follow Your Saint

by Thomas Campion

Follow your saint, follow with accents sweet;
Haste you, sad notes, fall at her flying feet.
There, wrapp’d in cloud of sorrow, pity move,
And tell the ravisher of my soul I perish for her love:
But if she scorns my never-ceasing pain,
Then burst with sighing in her sight and ne’er return again.

All that I sung still to her praise did tend,
Still she was first; still she my songs did end;
Yet she my love and music both doth fly,
The music that her echo is and beauty’s sympathy.
Then let my notes pursue her scornful flight:
It shall suffice that they were breath’d and died for her delight.

Book List:

Manual of Composition and Rhetoric edited by Gardiner, Kittredge and Arnold

Home Education by Charlotte Mason

Know and Tell by Karen Glass

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Writing to Learn by William Zinsser

Range by David Epstein

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You can find Angelina and Thomas at, on Instagram @angelinastanford, and on Facebook at

Find Cindy at, on Instagram @cindyordoamoris and on Facebook at Check out Cindy’s own Patreon page also!

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