The title of this post might seem presumptuous to you. Surely you don’t become a writer: you’re born one. That’s a common assumption about artists. We believe that people who write or sculpt or sing are born with an innate ability for their craft, that perhaps their education had less influence on their artistic success than the capabilities endowed by their creator. And this expectation—that natural talent ultimately determines performance—prevents those of us who didn’t pen Nobel Prize-winning novels at age 12 from ever writing our own story.Read More
I was recently helping someone with a comparative essay they had to write for school. This person did not like writing—a common enough state of affairs. They felt that they had no talent for it. The process frustrated them. I could see that they were struggling in part because they were trying to do everything at once (come up with ideas, write grammatically sound sentences, discover their own thinking and opinions on the topic at hand).Read More
The blank page can be scary, terrifying even. It represents the unknown. And who isn’t afraid of what they don’t know? I, for one, feel intense insecurity and fear when confronted with an empty word document, the clicker blinking insistently at me as if impatient with my lack of progress. And I’m a writer! I’ve been writing and teaching writing for years! So, how do we conquer this fear? How do we get ourselves to write when it feels impossible?Read More
When I was a high school AP Biology student, my teacher used to walk by my desk during multiple choice exams and whisper, “You didn’t really mean to circle B there, did you? Keep it simple.” He knew I was an overthinker. Instead of circling the simplest and most obvious answer—which I often knew to be the right one—I would overthink the question, until I’d talked myself in to a trick wrong answer.Read More
“Miss. Look lah.”
“Girl’s bathroom,” she says. “Cikgu, you touch?”
Our state has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the region.
“Is it poisonous?”
I mime the action of being bitten (by my hand) and then dying.
“Mm, don’t know.”
In 2017, I taught ESL, literature, and political science at a rural secondary school in a conservative, rice-paddy-laden state in northern Malaysia. To say the least, it was a year of questions.
This extended to my methodology as a teacher. Given Malaysia’s exam-centric educational system, I sought to help students develop Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). Over the course of my grant, I refined an arsenal of questions that enabled students to improve their analyses and become active question-askers.Read More
The first few months after my college graduation, I began my 9-5 job and was disappointed by how much less time I had to read. After majoring in English and becoming accustomed to finishing multiple novels a week during the semester, I wished that I could dedicate more time to that hobby. Furthermore, after a few months of working 40-hour weeks, I fell out of my writing groove, and it became difficult to draft anything more creative than a work email with the same alacrity I once possessed. Noticing that my reading and writing skills had begun to rust, I attempted to find ways to reclaim my affinity for language. Below are five recommendations for doing so; whether you are in high school, college, graduate school, or the working world, hopefully, these tips will help hone and maintain your verbal skills.Read More
It's fun to stand out!
You’re not just any old business major: you’re an innovator. But how do you learn how to disrupt while you’re taking classes that are teaching you all the rules you need to know? Business majors can often get a bad rep for taking cookie-cutter classes that don’t prepare students for the actual business world. That’s why some of the best preparation for business might be far, far away from the business school. Future business leaders need to learn how to improvise and think creatively, but they also need to know how to express themselves eloquently.
One great field you can explore to expand your horizons as an aspiring entrepreneur is creative writing. Here are three reasons why business majors and other tycoons in the making should try their hands at fiction and poetry:Read More
You don't have to feel this way when writing your personal statement!
What is a personal essay? What does a college personal statement sound like? You’ve looked at tons of sample personal statements, but none of them are particularly inspiring. How do you find your voice as a writer?Read More
Confused about MFAs? You’re not alone.
I graduated from college in 2009, and immediately set about the business of becoming a writer. I wrote a novel. I rewrote it. I landed an agent. I rewrote the novel two more times. I found consistent work, first as a bartender (every writer needs a trade), then as a college admissions coach and writing tutor in New York and Boston, and lately I’ve moved into editing economic reports and proposals for the World Bank in DC, where I live now. I started reviewing books, at first for the free books, then, thanks to a charitably-minded editor at the TLS, for actual money (not a lot of it, but still money). I became, bit by bit, a working author. I started to feel less obligated to put the word “writer” in air quotes every time someone asked me what I did. And through it all, one question came up over and over. “What about an MFA?” And every time the answer was the same: “Forget it!” I even blogged stridently about it on this site a year and a half ago.Read More
Wanna make friends like this? Get thee to an MFA program!Read More
Tags: creative writing