My first experience with writing was when I was in 6th grade. Through my school, I had sent an article to the “Times of India” which is a well-known Indian newspaper. As I love dogs, I chose to write about it, and so this article was a list of stories about my encounters with dogs and how I tried to help them in various situations. As far as I remember, my original write-up did not have a purpose or a point. But, when the article was published about 8 months after I sent it, I was elated! Wow! I still remember the feeling when I saw the words – “Sohani laments the cruelty and insensitive behavior towards animals”. My article was quite long and covered about half a page of one of those large newspapers. The editor tweaked some of the parts, very beautifully wove my experiences to bring meaning to the entire article, and added a conclusion. It is perhaps from that day on, I have always wanted to be a good writer.
Although “good” is a relative term, in my opinion, a good writer puts in the required effort in writing, think through the purpose and the flow of a passage, reflect on the writing sample, re-read, and re-write. A good writer is someone who can sustain the attention of the reader throughout the passage, which would mean that the writer needs to pay close attention to the rhetoric and focus on the tone, the format, and the language. But, writing to me has always been intimidating. Imagine something that you are overawed by because of profound respect and admiration. Writing, to me, is one of those things. As a result, I still do not know how a person becomes a good writer even 20 years after I had my first article published. Is it because they have had some training in writing, or is it because they read a lot, or is it because they read like a writer, or perhaps a combination of all? Although I do not have an answer to this question, I hope that a combination of reading like a writer and some training in writing might help me in going one step closer to my definition of a good writer.
I can talk in five languages, and I pride myself on being multilingual. But, I have underestimated the power of knowing one language really well. Although someone who is multilingual can communicate with people in different languages, I have realized that to be a persuasive writer and to be able to honestly express one’s thoughts and ideas, a thorough knowledge of at least one language is critical. So one of my intentions of ‘learning to write’ is to perfect my English language skills and vocabulary.
Don’t get me wrong. I have learned and spoken English all my life. I have written many articles and essays, and have summarized literature reviews. But, when I re-read those articles, I have always felt like something was missing. Perhaps my compositions reflect what a reader wants to read rather than what the writer truly feels. I think my writing lacks the honesty that a good writer should have. Maybe my articles do not do enough to support my convictions, or perhaps deep-down I feel vulnerable to express my opinions on paper. I have always had all those doubts, even through graduate school, and upon reading the articles of my friends who have had some training in writing, I felt the need to get some direction in writing myself. You can never underestimate the power of a teacher or an instructor. Although Google has many resources that teaches one to write compellingly, having a structure in learning makes the entire learning experience enriching, and the structure can be achieved through instructor-led learning, with proper learning plans, and measuring progress through work samples, albeit via an online learning platform.
Now, with the knowledge and experience that I hope to gain through these writing exercises, I plan on pursuing my childhood desire of becoming a good writer. I hope to use these “good writer” skills in writing blogs on various topics and sharing my knowledge and experience with my social media community. I hope to hone my writing skills through the blog, and also write about larger causes that I care about. To keep up the practice of good writing, I plan to keep writing and reflect, revise, and re-write my passages.
The first step to any change is to recognize that there is a problem and then to take measures to solve the problem. I enroll in an EdX course on English Composition to address my issues with writing. Through this course, I hope not only to learn to write but also learn various ways of expressing an opinion through the discussions and comments of my peers. Despite learning the English language all my life, I still make mistakes with conventions and sentence structures. In the process of learning the English composition, I hope to correct some of those mistakes and learn and use new vocabulary for better expressions. Through this course, I would like to conquer my inhibition of reflecting in a passage, diplomatically stating and supporting my opinion with proper evidence and examples, and I hope to overcome my intimidation towards writing.
Featured Image: Banff National Park, Canada. Taken on August 2nd, 2015 during one of the most challenging hikes I have ever done.