Writing | Introduction to Writing

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This episode form English Plus Podcast will introduce you to important concepts you need to know about writing and major writing blocks you can overcome before you start the journey of improving your writing skills. 

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I am using an automatic transcript service as it is not possible for me to do it on my own and I cannot afford human transcription at the moment. The service claims to have about 95% accuracy, which means there will still be some mistakes, so my apologies for having a less than perfect transcript, but I hope I can afford human transcription soon and I will solve this problem. However, the service is pretty good, and the transcript is almost perfect.

Transcript

Welcome to a new episode from English plus podcast today is about writing and it’s going to be a series we’re going to start from today and it’s writing intermediate. But for those who are just starting out with writing, don’t worry because we’re going to have. Writing first steps and that is going to start from next week.

[00:00:27] So we will start with very simple sentence techniques going up all the way to writing paragraphs and essays. But here we’re not starting from the very first beginning. We’re going to talk about some concepts. That you can use to improve your writing. And of course, we’re going to focus on writing paragraphs, writing essays, writing different kinds of paragraphs and essays and other important topics that have to do with writing.

[00:00:54] So now without further ado, let’s start with this episode. Actually, this episode is going to be an introduction. To writing. We’re going to talk about important things to think about when you want to write and important things to think about. When you want to think about your writing and your writing skill.

[00:01:11] It might be a good idea just to start away with how to write a paragraph, writing topic sentences, supporting ideas, et cetera. But I do prefer that before we go on and do that, we talk a little bit about writing as a skill, the process of writing. How we think about writing, because that is very important.

[00:01:32] And one of the most important things we’re going to talk about in this episode is the wrong ideas. Most people have about writing the misconceptions people have about writing. So without further ado, let’s start. What are you going to learn in this series? Writing intermediate. In writing intermediate, we’ll try to explain in a clear and direct way, the four basic principles you must learn to write effectively how to start with a clearly stated point that unifies your paragraph or essay, how to provide logical detailed support for your point, how to organize and connect your supporting material.

[00:02:08] Always aiming for coherence and finally, how to revise and edit so that your sentences are effective. And error-free. These are the four targets that we’re aiming at for this writing intermediate series. But as I said today is going to be an introduction and a very important introduction. You need to listen to, especially if you think at this moment that you know what writing is not for me.

[00:02:33] I like the grammar episodes, the vocabulary episodes, but not writing. I’m not a good writer. If you have this idea, if especially, if you have this idea in mind going on right now, please listen to the end of this episode, because I hope by the end of this episode, that I will have changed your mind. So first let’s start by talking about writing itself.

[00:02:56] And the difference between writing and talking, writing is different from talking. Talking is easy. For most people, you don’t have to make any effort. And most of us are very good at talking. But not everybody is good at writing. So what is this difference between writing and talking in everyday conversation?

[00:03:16] You make all kinds of points or assertions. You say, for example, I hate my job. Sue’s a really generous person where the exam was unfair. The points that you make concern such personal matters as well as at times, larger issues like a lot of doctors are arrogant. The death penalty should exist for certain crimes.

[00:03:37] And you may say tobacco and marijuana are equally dangerous. The people you are talking with do not always challenge you to give reasons for your statements. They may know why you feel as you do. They may already agree with you, or they simply may not want to put you on the spot. And so they do not always ask why, but the people who read what you write may not know.

[00:04:00] You may not agree with you or feel in any way obliged to you. If you want to communicate effectively with readers, you must provide solid evidence. For any point you make. An important difference then between writing and talking, is this in writing any idea that you advance must be supported with specific reasons or details?

[00:04:23] Think of your readers as reasonable people, they will not take your views on faith, but they are willing to consider what you say as long as you support it. Therefore, remember to support any statement that you make with specific evidence. When you think about writing and that is something you need to remember all the times writing is not like talking.

[00:04:43] Now, let us get into some details and talk about point you want to make and support in a paragraph. For example. Now suppose you and a friend are talking about jobs, you’ve had, you might say about a particular job. That was the worst one. I ever had a lot of hard work and not much money for your friend.

[00:05:02] That might be enough to make your point. And you would not really have to explain your statement, but in writing your point would have to be backed up with specific reasons and details. Uh, we will read a paragraph here that was written by a student talking about his worst job. The parents graph by the way, for those who are not so sure whether the graph is, is a short paper of 150 to 200 words, it usually consists of an opening point called a topic sentence, followed by a series of sentences supporting that point.

[00:05:34] So let’s read this paragraph and let’s discuss it later. My job at the Crescent falls, diner and truck shop. Working at the Crescent falls, diner and truck shop was the worst job I ever had. First, the work was physically very hard during my 10 hour days, I had to carry heavy trays of food to the customers and I had to clean the tables.

[00:05:56] I washed dishes and then unloaded the delivery trucks, lifting 60 pound cartons of food supplies. The second bad feature was the pay I had to work at least 60 hours a week to afford next semester’s tuition because I got only minimum wage. And I had to share my tips with the kitchen workers to finally the working conditions were horrible.

[00:06:18] I had to wash dishes in a hot and steamy kitchen. Once when unloading a truck, I hurt my back so badly. I was out of work for a week without pay. And the boss was a tyrant who hated me because I was a college student. He gave me terrible hours, ridiculed my clothes and even made racist slurs to my face.

[00:06:38] Notice what the specific details in this paragraph do they provide you as a reader with a basis for understanding why the writer makes this particular point through this specific evidence? The writer has explained and successfully communicated the idea that this job was the worst one ever, of course, for this writer.

[00:06:59] It might not be the worst job ever in the world. And that’s not the point. The writer is trying to make the writers just trying to make that this is the worst job ever for him, not for everybody else. So here it’s important to use the right support for the point you’re trying to make. Now the evidence that supports the point in a paragraph often consists of a series of reasons, followed by examples and details that support the reasons.

[00:07:26] That is true of the previous paragraph. Three reasons are provided with examples and details that back up, those reasons supporting evidence in a paper can also consist of anecdotes, personal experiences, facts, studies, statistics, and opinions of experts. So you see, this is just an example of how we need to support our points in writing.

[00:07:49] And that is something you may not have to do in speaking. And now let’s move on to talk about writing as a skill. A realistic attitude about writing must build on the idea that writing is a skill. It is skill like driving, typing, or cooking and like any skill it can be learned. If you have the determination to learn, writing intermediate series will give you the necessary practice.

[00:08:14] You need to develop your writing skills. Yeah. People who believe that writing is a natural gift rather than a learned skill, may think that they are the only ones for whom writing is unbearably difficult. They might feel that everybody else finds it as a piece of cake. And there’s no problem at all. And people like that would usually say I’m not any good at writing or English was not one of my good subjects.

[00:08:38] The result of this attitude is that people try to avoid writing. And when they do write, they don’t try their best. Their attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The writing fails chiefly because they have convinced themselves that they don’t have the natural gift needed to write unless their attitude changes.

[00:08:58] They probably will not learn how to write effectively. And I’m talking to you now, and especially the ones who said at the beginning of this episode, that writing is not for me. Writing is not my forte. Actually, it’s not anybody’s forte. It’s a skill. You may need to work on your skill more than others, but not because you’re worse than others or others are better than you or others are more natural gifted writers.

[00:09:23] Not at all, but others, if you consider it and be reasonable about it, others have practiced their writing more than you did. If it is the case, it is acceptable to admit that those people are better at writing because they have practiced more, consider it like any other kind of sports or any other skill.

[00:09:44] It is acceptable to admit that people who practice more will be better. We also need to know that many people find writing difficult to do the intense and active thinking that clear writing demands. It is frightening to sit down before a blank sheet of paper or a computer screen and know that an hour later.

[00:10:05] Little on it may be worth keeping. It is frustrating to discover how much of a challenge it is to transfer thoughts and feelings from one’s head into words. It is upsetting to find that an apparently simple writing subject often turns out to be complicated, but writing is not an automatic process for almost everyone.

[00:10:27] Competent writing comes from plain hard work from determination, sweat, and head on battle. The good news is that the skill of writing can be mastered. And if you are ready to work, you will learn what you need to know. And now I will talk about some common concepts or some common ideas people have about writing.

[00:10:47] Some of them are true. Some of them are false and I will comment on these sentences. These might be things you’ve already had in mind about writing might not, but a lot of people think about riding this way, or they say that about riding. Let’s figure out if these things are true or not. Now people say a good writer should be able to sit down and write a paper straight through without stopping.

[00:11:12] Well, this statement is false. Writing is in fact a process. It is done not in one easy step, but in a series of steps. And seldom at one city, if you cannot do a paper all at once, that simply means you are like most of the other people on the planet, it is harmful to carry around the false idea. That writing should be an easy matter.

[00:11:35] It is. Okay. If you can’t do it in one sitting. It is okay. If you just scribble this time and you jot down some ideas and next time you start to find some links between those ideas and maybe another sitting, you will start to form a couple of sentences, et cetera. We will talk about the writing process in the episodes to come.

[00:11:55] But what I’m trying to say, that it is okay if you can’t finish it in one sitting, because most people, almost all people on the planet cannot do that as well. Maybe a couple of writers can do this, but that comes not only because they are talented as you think, but that comes because they’ve been practicing for a very long time.

[00:12:17] So when you become an expert writer, because you’ve been practicing for years and years, yes. You might get to that point when you can sit down and finish a piece of writing right away. It’s not that the ideas flow more smoothly. It is that you are an expert. Now think about great basketball players, Michael Jordan, magic Johnson, others.

[00:12:38] Do you really think that they got to this level without practice when they could almost play blindfold basketball and they would be great, but that didn’t come because they were naturally gifted players, but because they put a lot of effort, a lot of practice into this and writing is just the same. So this statement is false.

[00:12:59] What about another one? Writing is a skill that anyone can learn with practice. Well, I will have to agree with that. This statement is absolutely true. And if you have this attitude, I can tell you that you can become very good writers with practice and here, remember with practice now, just by listening to the episode, listening to this series from English plus, or if you are.

[00:13:25] Uh, getting your information about writing from any other source. It’s fine. And these things are good. These things are meant to encourage you. These things are meant to organize your learning, but there is only one way you can learn writing. And that is with practice only. That’s the only way. So writing is a skill like driving, like typing that you can master with hard work.

[00:13:48] If you want to learn to write, you can, it is as simple as that. If you believe this, you are ready to learn how to become a competent writer. Some people hold the false belief that writing is a natural gift that some haven’t others do not because of this belief. They never make a truly honest effort to learn, to write.

[00:14:08] And so they never learn. And now let’s move to another assumption. Some people will say I’ll never be good at writing because I make too many mistakes in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Well, the first concern in good writing should be content. What you have to say, your ideas and feelings are what matter most, you should not worry about spelling, grammar, or punctuation while working on content.

[00:14:32] Unfortunately, some people are, so self-conscious about making mistakes, that they do not focus on what they want to say. They need to realize that a paper is best done in stages and that applying the rules can and should wait until a later stage in the writing process. Through review and practice, you will eventually learn how to follow the rules with confidence.

[00:14:54] So don’t ever be discouraged if your technical writing skills are not as good at the moment, because to be honest, these are the easy ones. These are the easy fixes. The real deal is the content, the organization of the content, what content to include, how to approach a topic, how to focus on a point or how to support a point.

[00:15:16] These are the important things. These are sometimes the difficult things that you need to focus on, but I’m not saying grammar and punctuation are not important. Of course they are, but they are not important as the first thing you need to master before you start writing, it’s just the opposite. You need to focus on the content first, you need to put all your efforts to create great content.

[00:15:39] People would want to read. That’s the important thing you don’t read a novel just because the grammar is great or the punctuation. I really liked the punctuation in this book. Or even if it’s a nonfiction book, you don’t read it just because the grammar was awesome. And. Impeccable, no mistakes at all. The punctuation was great.

[00:15:58] Of course it is important to have an error free book, but you read books, whether they’re fiction or non-fiction because of the ideas, because of the stories, because of the content. Keep that in mind. Now let’s move on to another assumption because I dislike writing. I always start a paper at the last possible minute.

[00:16:18] Well, you may say that it is true about you, or you may have thought about that before you may do this. I don’t know, but some people do. This is all too common. You feel you are going to do poorly. And then your behavior ensures you, you will do poorly. Your attitude is so negative that you defeat yourself, not even allowing enough time to really try again.

[00:16:40] What you need to realize is that writing is a process because it is done in steps. You don’t have to get it right. All at once. Just get started. Well in advance. If you allow yourself enough time, you will find a way to make a paper come together. And now for the last assumption, I’ve always done poorly in English.

[00:16:59] And I don’t expect that to change well, a lot of people say that I hope you’re not one of those, but even if you are one of those, listen to what I have to say to you, how you may have performed in the past does not control how you can perform in the present or even in the future. Even if you did poorly in English, in high school or.

[00:17:18] In school or at university, it doesn’t matter. It is in your power to make this one of your best subjects in college. It is possible to make this one of your best subjects in life. Now you don’t have you’re graduated. You don’t need to study anything, right, but you want to be a good writer. You want to improve the skill.

[00:17:37] You may embrace English again, as one of your favorite subjects. If you believe writing can be learned. And if you work hard at it, you will become a better writer. Am briefed. Your attitude is crucial. If you believe you are a poor writer and always will be, chances are you will not improve. And there is nothing I can do or anybody else can do to help you improve your writing or improve your English.

[00:18:00] But if you realize you can become a better writer, chances are you will improve. Depending on how you allow yourself to think you can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. And now before we finish this episode, let’s talk about writing as a process. In addition to believing that writing is a natural gift, many people believe mistakenly that writing should flow in a simple, straight line from the writer’s head onto the page.

[00:18:29] But writing is seldom an easy one step journey in which a finished paper comes out in a first draft. The truth is that writing is a process of discovery that involves a series of steps. And those steps are very often like a zig-zag journey. It is never that straight arrow from start to finish very often.

[00:18:50] Writers do not discover just what they want to write about until they explore their thoughts in writing. The point is that writing is often a process of exploration and continuing discovery. As you write, you may suddenly switch direction or double back. You may be working on a topic sentence and realize that it could be your concluding thought or you may be developing a supporting idea and then decide that it should be the main point of your paper.

[00:19:18] All of this can happen. So think about writing, just like that. It’s a process of discovery. And now one final thought, because writing is a skill. It makes sense that the more you practice writing, the better you will write. One excellent way to get practice in writing even before you begin composing formal paragraphs is to keep a daily or almost daily journal.

[00:19:40] Keeping a journal will help you develop the habit of thinking on paper and we’ll show you how ideas can be discovered in the process of writing a journal can make writing a familiar part of your life and can serve as a continuing source of ideas for papers. At some point during the day, perhaps during a study period after your last class of the day, right before dinner, or right before going to bed, spend 15 minutes or so writing in your journal, keep in mind that you do not have to plan what to write about, be in the mood to write or worry about making mistakes.

[00:20:14] As you write, just write down whatever words come out, you should write at least one page in each session. You may want to use a notebook that you can easily carry with you for on the spot writing. Or you may decide to type your journal entries on a computer or write on loose leaf paper that can be transferred later to a journal folder, no matter how you proceed, be sure to date all entries.

[00:20:37] So that being said, that will be all for today’s episode. The main target of this episode is to encourage you to write and to help you believe that you can improve the skill. I will do my best to help you do that. And of course, anything else, any other sources will be useful as well, but I can talk for myself.

[00:20:57] I’m going to help you as much as I can to improve this. And as part of our premium option, we have a PDF worksheet related to every single episode for this writing intermediate series and all our other episodes. You can get those PDF worksheets by becoming a patron on Patrion. And you will receive all the worksheets and you will practice everything we learn in writing.

[00:21:19] And in all the other topics we talk about in English plus podcast, don’t forget that you can find the transcript of this episode. I will leave a link to that in the description. That’ll be all for today. This is Danny your host. Thank you very much for listening to another episode from English plus podcasts.

[00:21:35] I will see you next time.

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