Nazia Kamali is a reader, writer, and teacher who regularly volunteers with organizations that work for Women Empowerment. She has written for the local news journal Harbinger India for several years. Her writings have appeared online on Indus Women Writings and The Whorticulturalist as well as in anthologies by Cape Comorin Publishers, Other Worldy Women Press, and PCC Inscape.
Artwork by Co-founder Michael R. Pitter
Let’s Become Better Together
I know I know hundreds of published writers and bloggers have written thousands of words of advice on how to be a good writer and you have read them all.
Good for you.
I did that too.
But then just reading other’s advice is not enough. We learn the most by making mistakes of our own share and falling down repeatedly.
I fell a lot too.
Cooped up in a room I scratched on my notepad and click clacked on the keyboard to produce pieces of writing that might awe some editor one day.
Did I get published?
Was it easy?
Any piece of diamond becomes worth its price only after being thoroughly scraped, precisely cut, and neatly polished. Similarly, an emerging writer (like you and I) has to hone her skills with determination and diligence before the world recognises their talent. Although there is no perfect way of doing the same, here are a few worthy tips that one can try.
- Peek out of the window of your room and observe the surroundings for a minute or two. Come back to the writing desk – describe the mood, the atmosphere, and decipher the effect of the same on you. This will help you with staging a setting in any story.
Now repeat the same for at least a week.
Every day we see the same thing outside our window – neighbour’s house, flowers and trees in their garden, the sky above, and the road below.
Why write the same thing over and over again?
Because this is how you will become good at descriptions. Watch the same setting everyday but describe it using different words and adjectives.
You have spent countless hours, days, and months to improve your skill. What’s a few more?
By the end of a week (or two) all your five senses will awaken and help you make the reader see, hear, and feel with your words.
- Get in touch with your emotions; write a song about what happened to you on a particular day, try being lyrical, play with the alliterations.
I know singing is not everyone’s cup of tea. Trust me it’s not mine either. I don’t even sing in the bathroom. But no one stops you from writing on that account.
Write beautiful words…
Ones that would make you want to sing aloud and dance.
Even if you don’t want to be a lyricist, just give it a go.
You can now gloat as your prose becomes delightful with every passing day.
- Improve your vocabulary by playing with words. Chose any part of speech – adjective, adverb, verb, then write a word of the category. The next word that you write should begin with the last alphabet of the preceding word.
Let’s take an adjective ‘petite’, now the next one has to start with ‘e’ (make sure the part of speech remains the same).
I am sure your grammar is amazing and you were/are always on the top in your English class.
Then this is just a child’s play. Why not do something that is easy and helps you become a good writer.
Even the words that have slipped past the active part of the grey matter to hide in dark corners of your brain will come crawling out. You can now use them precisely in your work.
After all shooting the right word at the right moment is what good writing is all about.
- Read a short story and imagine yourself as its protagonist (or a side character; whatever floats your boat!!!) who makes a different choice in the same scenario. Now write an alternate ending to the story. It will increase the action and reaction of creative juices in your brain and help you look at any issue with multiple perspectives.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you become one of the talented few whose stories have the rarest of the rare point of view?
Off course it would be amazing.
No point asking.
So my dear friend what’s stopping you? Pick up your favourite author and try spinning her story. Or pick up a story you didn’t like and try giving it a twist that would have made you glued to the seat until you finished it.
All up to you…
- Lastly, join a writing group whether online or offline. Submit your stories for peer review. Work on the feedback that you receive.
This one is definitely not something that I have cooked but it’s truly the best thing that any writer can do.
Get feedback from serious writers and readers.
Get humiliated for your bad writing (okay not humiliated exactly!!!) but at least befriend a few people who are not scared of offending you.
Yes, it hurts just like the vaccines we get to prepare our bodies to fight against diseases.
True feedback works like that.
It stings for a moment, or may be a day or two (if you are the touchy type) but it will save you at so many places in the future that you will feel like blessing your critic for being at her worst with you.
There is no miraculous way of being a good writer.
If there were, you wouldn’t have read this post until the end and I wouldn’t have written it!!!
The only thing that one can rely upon is writing.
Look for prompts, write.
Throw away the piece you don’t like and write again.
Break down at rejections, pick up the broken pieces, glue them together, and get back to work after a short break.
Only after you have filled pages upon pages with words that no one wants to read, you will be able to write something that the world readily laps up.
From the Editor:
We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.
Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?
The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.
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By In Parentheses in IP Volume 7
32 pages, published 1/15/2022
By In Parentheses in Volume 6
56 pages, published 1/15/2021