I have been asking my writing friends all week: what is your learning style? Some say they are distinctly kinesthetic. They hoard memories creating their own sign language to accompany a poem. Or they are auditory, and learn best by listening to lectures.
Personally, I am very visual. I remember names best after seeing them spelled out. In my university classes, I was a notorious doodler. I live my life in accumulated moments and my understanding of history is grounded in webbed associations between art, books, and stiff portraits of important figures.
Your learning style affects your writing style.
My visual focus leads to rich, atmospheric writing. In my early teens, I filled my notebook with imaginative vignettes–faeries hiding in a mass of ivy as the sun sinks below the horizon. Each detailed vignette was a scrap of potentiality that never grew up. Much like Peter Pan, if you will. I reveled so much in the moment that forgot to move the plot forward—a trouble that I have worked hard to overcome.
As for the other learning styles, I’ll venture to say that kinesthetic learners write more readily about physical touch and movement. You fill rooms with solid objects and your characters characters interact very directly with them. Auditory learners focus on dialogue and the creaking of an old rocking chair. Dialects are easier for you, and your soundscape is rounded.
What you absorb filters onto the page.
While understanding your strengths is helpful, so is pinpointing your weaknesses. By rounding your writing, you’ll broaden your learning style. For example, the auditory writer stops and pays more attention to the texture of the linen, instead of just the sound it makes as it swishes in the breeze. The visual writer looks up from an elegant detail and realizes that it’s time to move on. The kinesthetic writer slows down to absorb the sights and sounds of the moment. If you only learn in one dominant way, your intake is too limited. Many tell you to ‘write what you know,’ but you need to continually push those boundaries.
Read through your writing—would you say that your writing is auditory, kinesthetic, or visual?
In college I took this learning style questionnaire that determines your strengths. The VARK guide to learning styles “is unashamedly one-dimensional because it is about a single preference–your preference for taking in, and putting out information when learning is the objective” (see their FAQ). Of course there is greater complexity than what I’ve described above, but what does your writing focus on? Do those strengths and weaknesses correspond with your learning style? I’m very curious to see if others can sense a direct tie, so please leave a comment below if the correlation is spot on for you, or even if it is way off. I’d love to hear your opinion!