The Fear of Writing
timer Published Date:2nd Oct, 2020

Many of my friends and colleagues ask me how I write. Their questions are mainly related to how I select the topic and generate the ideas to be expressed. Some even say and admit that not everyone can do it. They argue that everyone is not meant for it, and only those who have been gifted with this talent can write. In this short article, I, therefore, try to address this misconception about writing.

Writing, as many of us think, is not an inborn trait. It is acquired. It requires a consistent effort and a rigorous practice, which no advice or instruction can substitute. Anyone can write if he/she is ready to take it up. Most of us don’t write because we think we can’t do it. We have a negative attitude towards it. We consider it a risky undertaking and secretly fear it. Some of us even take it to be a nuisance and try to avoid it if it comes to us by chance. We fear it for the reason that we may not do the justice to whatever subject we are handling. Even if we do some of it, our writing is often poor. There are various reasons regarding the causes of this.

The first and agreeably the crucial reason behind most of the poor writing is wrong schooling. A large majority of people are given wrong ideas of writing at school. Good English is often associated with flowery language. So, during English lessons, students are encouraged to use long words and flowery expressions, rather than using language to communicate information. Common words and straight forward sentences are discouraged. The rules such as ‘don’t repeat the same word in a sentence’ or ‘long and unusual words are more elegant and impressive’ still persist in school.  As a result, many students are left with the conviction that English is not meant for them. They give up English and choose their careers in fields where they have to do very little with it. Due to this, they fear writing if they have to do it in their professional life later.

Secondly, our tendency to maintain authority results in poor writing. As writers, we don’t want our writing to be easily understood by everyone. We think it puts us in the rank of average or even poor writers. Therefore, we intentionally embrace verbose writing. We rely heavily on words to express our thoughts and ideas. We forget that this verbosity stands as a major barrier between us and the readers. The primary purpose of any writing is to communicate. If writing fails to communicate the writer’s intended message, it is considered poor writing. Verbose writing rarely communicates as it is loaded with vagueness and pomposity.

Thirdly, writers create the problem for themselves by facing the task of writing in a wrong way. They sit down; take a clean white sheet of paper and a pen and then only start to think. This tendency lands them in trouble. They find getting the words flowing difficult, and this obstruction discourages them from moving ahead. As a result, they give up the task thinking that they can’t do it.

Writing requires a plan. Rather than panicking over an empty sheet of paper, a writer has to be carefully prepared before. Writing is the last thing we do, and is one of the easiest of the tasks. But, without a careful and precise plan beforehand, it proves to be very tough. The flow of thought breaks every now and then and writing can’t move forward smoothly and coherently. A well formulated plan, on the other hand, provides us with a clear direction to move and gives us an organized sequence of ideas to be discussed.

The initial step of a writing plan is to gather the needed information. Without adequate information about the subject in hand, we can’t expect good writing to occur. It’s much like preparing a dish, which first requires the availability of the ingredients. Only then come the matters such as how skillful and experienced the cook is and so on. Information is the basic ingredient of writing, and writing is the process of dishing up information.  Many of us end up without writing a single good paragraph because we start with an empty brain. 

The failure to write also results from our inability to identify the aim and audience. Writing tactics, information included and the language used are different according to our purpose and audience. For instance, when we write at school or college, our writing is to be read by people who already know the information. We write in order to be assessed. So our primary aim is to impress the examiners with the sophistication of the language use and the display of knowledge. But when we write in our profession, especially as technical people and IT professionals, we write for people who don’t know the information. So, the primary purpose of writing at this time is to communicate information. Similarly, when people do literary writing, they generally write to express themselves.

Thus, writing is not meant to be done only by people who have the flair for it. Everyone can do it if he/she clears the misconception about it and takes it up positively.

Durga Gautam

 

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