Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Writing takchek

Blogging is interactive - other than leaving comments on my posts, some readers will email me privately to ask questions or to seek opinions. Most of the time, I will ignore such requests. I simply do not have the time nor the inclination to respond to each and every of their comments/questions/opinions.

That said, there are a couple of readers' emails that I think is worth a public airing (with their authors' permissions).

The one below came from an undergraduate who needed some help with her research project.

Hi takchek,

My project aim here is to try to 'clear away the debris' and unearth what student-writers really wanted to say, and what sort of identity he wanted to create by the way he writes (either in assignments based or simply through blogging!). As you probably might know, writing ought to present one's own view, own reflection on a particular topic and not simply just a regurgitation of an analysis he has gathered from elsewhere. But more often than not, student-writers simply are a passive receiver of transmitted knowledge or quotations from researches done. Hence, this form of writing contains many abstractions and generalizations, disconnected from people and experience.

And I've been reading ya entries for quite some time and since ya entries are mainly about academic stuff, I hope you are able to offer me some new insights as to the style(how, and what) in your writing when providing information, spark ideas, increase understanding. What sort of identity you wanted to create through your blog with the choices of language you've adopted, and probably have drawn on your own experience. And do you think that a student-writer should take his reader's opinion into consideration?

I sincerely need your help here as I'm required to do fieldwork researches on gathering responses from student-writers.

yea, your blog is a good read!


These are several pointers to guide me in my writing (here). The list is not exhaustive.

1. Identify your audience. Who are the people most likely to read your blog on a regular basis? Are they fellow students/workers etc like yourself? Or are they family members and close friends? Or are they someone most likely to share common interests/backgrounds as you? Or is it for yourself only? Your style of writing will very much depend on your target readership because you want to engage them in your writing. But regardless of your intended audience, you should write simply and clearly. That means minimal SMS-speak, big words and Singlish/dialect unless you are trying to make a certain point. Rockson is AN EXCEPTION, in a class of his own.

2. Topic ideas. As you had rightly pointed out, takchek's (primary) focus is on tertiary education (although there is a significant portion discussing other issues like National Service, love relationships and life in general).

Why do I do this? Because this is my life so far and I am most familar with it. I write from the perspective of someone who had benefited greatly from Singapore's K-12 education system and ended up in America for my tertiary education.

But life wasn't a bed of roses - NS exposed me to the dark side of Singapore.

So I wrote them out and shared with readers. And they did resonate.

Blog topics can also come from random conversations with your friends/peers (online and off) or from other blogs/current news.

3. Always keep your reader in mind, and try to have SHORT posts.

"Your Reader: I will be your reader, so you need to write your paper with me in mind. Who am I? It is best to think of me as somebody who is lazy, stupid, and mean. I am lazy in that I will not spend a lot of time trying to figure out what it is that you are trying to say. I am stupid in that I won't understand what you are trying to say if it is not clearly said. And I am mean in that if you say something that can be interpreted in several different ways, I will always opt for the less charitable interpretation or reading." - Eric Smith

'Greg Mankiw' is one of my favorite blogs. Mr Wang's too.

4. If possible, try to have one or two pictures to tell your story. They speak more and better than what you can write in words.

1 comment:

SM said...

I object to the term "student-writer". There is no difference between a student who thinks and a working adult who thinks.

And the way I write for assignments is vastly different from the way I blog. I don't feel the compulsion to "create identity" or to be as entertaining when writing assignments, since the readership is very small, not to mention helplessly captive :)