Writing may be defined as the physical manifestation of language. A process of recording information using a coded system of symbols. It is a means by which ideas are transferred from one mind to another through words, phrases and sentences. The symbols vary according to the language used. Good writing skills allow you to communicate with clarity and ease to a larger audience.

Following are some of the reasons why knowing how to write well is important in our daily lives. Writing equips you with the communication skills needed to interact effectively in public. It is an essential skill in daily life. You may encounter the need to write in your personal, academic and professional lives in formal and informal ways.

Writing skills are tested in almost all university and competitive examinations. Writing, as its history tells us, is a method of preservation. It gives ideas and thoughts of concrete form or posterity. Writing is a measure of one’s learning, intellect and creativity. A written piece mirrors the calibre of its author. Writing is an expression of your individual self. It makes your thinking explicit to others.

The growth of information technology has vastly increased the scope of writing. The availability and affordability of computers have made writing and publishing easier. Word processing renders the redrafting, revising and editing process quicker and more sophisticated. The internet is a friendly platform for aspiring writers. The reach of the web is far and wide, capable of bringing together writers and artists from all over the world. Blogging and tweeting are new digital forms of publishing.

Conventions of Writing

Conventions refer to a general understanding of the norms of a language. Writing comprises signs and symbols, and vocabulary and semantics. Therefore, to master the art of writing, it becomes important to learn grammar, vocabulary and meaning along with punctuation. The conventions of writing mainly include:

    1. Content (ideas, knowledge of the subject)
    2. Organisation (sequencing: introduction, body, conclusion)
    3. Mechanics (spelling, punctuation, grammar)
    4. Vocabulary (the use of correct and appropriate words, variety of words)

Mechanics

The mechanics of writing mainly refers to grammar, spelling and punctuation. Accuracy in these three aspects of language is desirable in written communication.

  • Grammar

A person who is unsure of the norms of English mostly stumbles when he or she fails to comprehend its grammar. Grammar, in a sense, is a combination of syntax and morphology. It tells us how to organise words, phrases and clauses into meaningful communication.

  • Spelling

Another major area of confusion is spelling. This can gradually be resolved by familiarising oneself with a dictionary, consistent reading and diligent writing.

  • Punctuation

Punctuation marks refer to the use of space and conventional signs in writing, which help in reading and decoding messages in a text.

Vocabulary

Words are probably the most essential building blocks of writing. One such set of words that come in useful in writing tasks comprises antonyms and synonyms. When attempting an assignment or a report, keep a thesaurus handy to choose from a variety of options that suit a context. Learning words that are commonly confused will also be beneficial to build our vocabulary.

  • Collocation

The ability to use English effectively involves an awareness of a distinctive feature of the language known as collocation. Collocation is that behaviour of the language by which two or more words go together, in speech or writing.

Functional and Creative Writing

Writing can be put into functional or creative use. Letters or emails, notices, memoranda, circulars, applications, Curriculum Vitaes and most academic writings are basically functional in the matter. Creative writing is a personal communication of your thoughts and emotions with the reader. When creative writing takes an artistic form, it shows the unique imagination of the writer.

If the purpose of most functional writing is to inform, educate, explore or analyse, creative writing exists for its own sake, with a wistful hope of communicating emotion, imagination and the human experience with the discerning reader. In academic writing, the ability to write creatively becomes useful in narrative and descriptive texts.

As we advance, the gap between formal and informal writing seems to narrow down. All writing is, in a sense, considered creative. The advent of social media heralded the arrival of micro versions of creativity. As English strives to become simpler and utilitarian as a global language of communication, blogging and tweeting have also evolved as popular forms of creative writing.

In spite of the differences in style, format and language at its core, the processes and tools of any kind of writing essentially remain the same. The process of writing is incomplete without revisions and a vigilant round of editing to remove errors in content, grammar and usage.

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Devika Panikar has been teaching English Language and Literature for 14 years now. She is an Assistant Professor with the Directorate of Collegiate Education under the Government of Kerala. She teaches at the Government Colleges coming under this directorate and is now posted at the Department of English, H.H. The Maharaja’s Government College for Women, Thiruvananthapuram. This website is a collection of the lecture notes that she prepared by referring various sources, for her students’ perusal. It has been compiled here for the sake of future generations.

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