Developing the ideas that shape good writing skills

The first in a series of tutorials on writing – FORMING GOOD IDEAS FOR WRITING

My greatest challenge in the linguistic-culture transition from French to English was coming to grips with the hidden meaning behind the words in the English sentence. Things more mature English speakers take for granted are mountainous obstacles to the linguistic/literary ‘immigrant’/student. If the nuanced changes within a single metaphor in a language is difficult, imagine the challenge the immigrants feel! They are regularly blindsided, by the ‘silent’ emphases, .

How can the immigrants/learners overcome linguistic challenges, and speed the transition to writing excellence in their own, or in a new language? I found the following few pointers helpful, and made them my constant ‘companions’ in my journey to more linguistic/literary efficiency:

  1. Develop a love for words, by looking them up and noting them in a ‘word-note’ file in your mobile. Start with words applicable to the things you love to do. Carry a pocket dictionary of every language that interests you. Apply the concept of starting with what you love even when you are learning a new third, or fourth language. I learnt rudimentary Spanish in one year with this technique.
  2. Whenever you find a quote that says something to you, type it into a ‘quote-note’ file in your phone.
  3. Expand your search for quotable ideas, stay ready, even when at a movie, or with a friend. Develop an appreciation for things/ideas spoken well, and that sound good to your ears.
  4. Check what others are saying about it on Wikipedia, or through other more direct literary sources
  5. Memorize interest quotes and repeat them often to yourself, and they will begin to ‘unpeel’ their meaning to you.
  6. Use this technique with the Scripture, memorize it, see how the bible applies it, and then relate it to your life. Repeating it in your mind, opens up layers upon layers of meanings you never knew were there.
  7. Write down everything you learn through this process in your ‘note’ file in your mobile.
  8. Always go to bed with a notepad and pencil at your bedside. A fertile mind produces even while you are asleep. I receive some of the best ideas in the middle of the night, and am thankful the next day that I had written it down.
  9. Do not be overcome by what you do not know, or by what others seem to know so well. Stay interested. Remember that words come easy when you write about what you have lived. Resist writing always about what others live; you will feel that something is missing.
  10. Remember to write down the stories of your life; they will bless your children, even if no one else, but your words, their meaning, the moments they capture, their structure, their form, their application will grow, and become your greatest teachers.
  11. Develop a reading discipline on/for the topics that interest you, and make notes in your ‘word’ or ‘quote’ note file of sentences that strike you as deeply meaningful
  12. Read poems; they are the lifeblood of a language, its culture, its history, its hopes, its failings.
  13. Develop the same love you have acquired in those near you. In our case, I began to read to our three children every night the stories that meant something to us as a family when they were 1, 3, and 5, and did not stop for ten years reading about 12 pages per day. Today, they have a massive vocabulary, are all studying in tertiary education, and more than that, they have become strong thinkers and communicators.

The following article written by Dave Kerpen, “25 Quotes to inspire you to become a better leader” will encourage you also:

Winston Churchill read a book a day. He said it would make him a better leader.
We, even if we do not have the same pressing urge he had for knowledge, can take a lesson from his habit, and how it inspired his prolific life and writings.

Make good words a focus of your day (Philippians 4), and soon, the wonder of new-formed ideas will flow onto the pad, and then to seed your path with an excellence that is beyond the words that seeded it.

Keep on


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(The conclusions, or opinions expressed within this article are entirely those of the author of this article. It is not our intention to suggest either that the authors/writers quoted, in any way agree with what we have written, or that we are expressing their full view on any of the subjects covered)