Having something to say
Everything you know or hear or see, everything that happens to you, anything that strikes you, can be used by you in your written assignments: Your daily life, your direct experiences, your thoughts and feelings, books and magazines and films, what you watch on TV or read in the newspaper, what people tell you, even what you have studied –they can all be transformed by you into what you have to say and write about.
But what if you don’t have anything to say on a given subject? One of the reasons why we find it difficult to say something in writing is simply that we have not said it in writing before. We are used to saying things face to face to people we know. We are not used to saying things in writing to people we don’t know, so sometimes nothing comes when we have to write.
We need practice. What we need is to cultivate our own voice in writing: to get into the habit of putting our own experience, perceptions, ideas, reactions and interests on paper or somebody else’s experience, perceptions, for that matter (through the news, conversation, TV, books, newspapers, films, anecdotes) to manage to get to every nook and cranny of reality. That way, we will manage to comprise a very wide spectrum of experience and we will be able to find inspiration and ideas for practically any composition topic we are given.
We need practice. We need to cultivate our voice in writing. So it would be a great idea to write as many written tasks as possible, to write all the compositions your English teacher asks you to write. Sometimes, even if we do all the written homework, we feel we need extra practice. Why not keep a diary? You can make a point of writing an entry once a week or once every other week. And you can try to write about a wide range of subjects, both concerning you and the world: the news, your feelings, life’s difficulties and pleasantries.
This way, you will have to find the words you need to write about life, it will make you start to look for things that are worth writing about, it will get you into the habit of writing. And take your diary-writing seriously: Once you have decided to write about a topic, plan what you are going to write about, make a few notes beforehand, not sentences, divide your writing into paragraphs, check your entry for linguistic accuracy before you make your final draft.
And make sure you follow all the presentation requirements we talked about in the first instalment of this writing workshop.
Next week: Part 3 -Criteria teachers use to correct compositions
Most of the ideas here have been taken from the writing course Feedback, Cambridge University Press