Overcoming the Fear of Writing

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There is an old saying in Spanish: “En comer y rascar todo está en comenzar”, meaning that you may be hesitant to undertake a certain task, but once you hack it, you may enjoy it and not want to bring it to an end.” That could be applied to writing. At least it works for me.

One of the classic problems people experience when they have to produce a piece of writing is to ignore what to say, something known in the writing milieu as the “white paper syndrome” or the anguish of the empty page.

The already acknowledged system of brainstorming about the topic which you need to write about continues being one of the best solutions. Tell your students to write down all the ideas that come to their minds, however absurd or inconvenient they may seem. Once they are finished with that, they should try to connect all the words they can and in doing so it is most probable they are going to find a narrating or descriptive line or a plot for their essays or stories.

We all know that without some dexterity in the use of grammar you will not ever be able to write in the sanctioned manner, but there are many other things you can do to improve your writing and this is what this article is about. Remember always that writing is a process.

Here is some advice to give your students to ease the writing process:

To begin: 

  1. Assert an interesting happening about your subject. Describe the place of occurrence of your essay or story.
  2. Recount an incident that dramatizes your subject.
  3. You can use the historical present tense, recounting an incident from the past as if it were happening now.
  4. You may describe a process that steers into your theme.
  5. Disclose a confidence about yourself or make a frank remark about your subject.
  6. Salt and pepper your writing with a riddle, joke, or humorous quotation, and display how it discloses something about your subject.
  7. Supply a contrast between past and present that leads to your thesis.
  8. Oppose image against reality, that is, between a common misconception and the contrasting truth.

And then continue:

  1. Use uncomplicated words, do not try to impress your reader or readers with “two-dollar” (complex) words.
  2. Eliminate trivial, inconsequential words.
  3. Prefer the active voice when possible, try to keep the SVO sequence (subject, verb, object).
  4. Keep paragraphs short. It is better in casual writing to feed information to our brains little by little and not huge indigestible chunks.
  5. Shorten, delete, and rewrite anything that does not add to the meaning
  6. Don’t digress from the subject you are dealing with.
  7. Avoid going again over what you have said, do not echo yourself.
  8. Don’t write excessively, know when to finish.
  9. Edit without fear or remorse. Reduce, eliminate, and rewrite anything that it is not meaningful, that does not contribute to the story or argument.
  10. Combine short and long sentences if you are capable of doing so. If not, keep your sentences short.
  11. Express your thesis concisely and openly. Maybe commence by posing a question to your readers

Now is your turn:

How do you motivate your students to write essays or stories?

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