Amazing Kids! Magazine

The 5 Lessons You Meet in Writing

By Joana Spatariu, Age 18, Canada

 

Dear Future Writer,

I discovered my first lesson in writing at a young age. I was in grade 5 and it was the beginning of our poetry lesson in English. Our teacher read us a couple of poems and explained the general rules for writing three types of poems that included haikus, limericks, and free verse. She then gave us the rest of the class period to come up with an idea and start writing our poems. Naturally with neither English nor poetry being my forte, I decided to wait until I got home to do some research. I would probably plagiarize (not that I knew what that meant in grade 5) and then hand it in the next day. To my absolute horror, 15 minutes into the work period my teacher announced that the poems were to be handed in at the end of class instead. Hardly remembering the rules, I decided to write what seemed the easiest, a haiku. 3 lines, no rhyming, 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables. I thought as hard as I could and came up with an acceptable haiku about nature, water in particular, and then time was up. Looking around me I noticed most of my classmates had a page written with fancy rhyming words. Discouraged and disappointed I handed in my poem and hoped for the best. A few weeks later we got our poems back and to my surprise I got an A and my first lesson; just because a piece of work is longer and has elaborate language does not mean it’s better. In fact, I realized that my classmates who had used such embellished words had no idea what these words meant, which made their poems sound ridiculous and stupid. In general, using simplicity instead of complexity when it comes to writing eliminates confusion and provides clarity to the reader.

In 7th grade my second writing lesson occurred to me. The task had fairly simple instructions, which were to write a two page essay about any topic of our choice. Our teacher announced that the 3 best essays in the class would be selected and the authors would get the chance to compete in the Mary Matthews Public Speaking Contest. This news suddenly made the essay writing process exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. The issue with having no topics is that the possibilities are endless. I decided to write about an easy topic and rashly chose to write about oranges. As I was beginning to write, I realized it didn’t feel right and that I needed some time for inspiration. A few days later I was watching Legally Blonde and there I found my inspiration. As I started writing my essay about animal rights, the writing and ideas flowed onto the paper. That was when I realized my second lesson; writing about a topic that you want to be informed about and that you are passionate about is worth the effort. I realized the issues of animal rights interested me tremendously and as a result I was also able to memorize and enjoy my writing while also learning something new. My teacher also thought my essay was well written and I was one of the people nominated for the public speeches. I came third on the day of the competition and won a $25 gift certificate for any book store. This accomplishment made me realize that passion in writing is what matters. I felt great being able to write about a topic that was of interest to me and through my effort I was also able to let other people enjoy my writing. So whenever you write make sure you are passionate about the topic. The passion you write will radiate off the page and captivate your reader.

In grade 9, I learned a lesson that would be useful to me for the rest of my academic life. This lesson was that the internet can be your best friend and also your biggest enemy. My experience learning this lesson was not a pleasant one. It was one of the first essays I had to write in grade 9 religion. Our teacher told us to choose a well-known public figure and elaborate on their lives and what they are famous for. I chose to write about Pierre Trudeau because I remember seeing his biography that my mom was reading while sitting on my living room table. Not even bothering to open the book, I went straight to my computer, opened Google and typed in Pierre Trudeau. Surly the first link to pop up was Wikipedia and it the first and last website I looked at. With great confidence in all the information posted, I tried paraphrasing the sentences and eventually I ended up with, what I thought to be, great information. Proud of my work without thinking twice I handed it in. To my disbelief I got it back with a big fat 65% written on the page. It turns out that Wikipedia isn’t the best source of information and citations matter when quoting Pierre Trudeau or trying to paraphrase. This was the moment I learned that although the internet has a lot of information. In any piece of writing it is important where we select this information from, and it is important to cite sources. In my own writing, once I began citing sources I felt more comfortable using the internet for information knowing that I wasn’t plagiarizing. This is why I say that the Internet can be a writer’s best friend, providing one with all the information, yet the greatest enemy if not used properly.

My next lesson presented itself in grade 10. It was the beginning of the year and the Extended French students were participating in the French Exchange program. I was really excited that I could lure my partner in helping me with my course for the two short weeks she was here. It was the perfect time for an assignment. Our teacher gave us 2 days to come up with a 20 line poem about fall. Now it would have been really easy to get my partner to do it for me, but I’m stubborn and hate asking for help. I spent about 3 hours trying my best to get French words to rhyme, and when I finished I felt like it was the worst thing I had ever written. I desperately wanted to ask for help, but I didn’t. I spent another 2 hours writing another poem and getting nowhere once again. My partner asked me if I wanted her help and for once I agreed. She told me my ideas were good and helped me come up with better sentence structure. She did not judge my work nor did she laugh at it, as I was afraid she would. This was the point I realized my 4th lesson which is, don’t be afraid of criticism or asking others for help. By getting other people’s opinion they can give you a different perspective you wouldn’t have considered, and by giving constructive criticism they can help you improve your writing.

My final lesson is something that I always strived for in every piece of my writing, yet I didn’t realize what that was until grade 11. For me the Shakespeare unit is the most challenging part of the English curriculum. The language is difficult to understand let alone all the figurative language used. We read Hamlet in class and undoubtedly, we had to write an analytical essay. I chose to write about the relationship between thinking and acting seen through three of the characters. Usually the thesis is the hardest part of the essay because it also has to be the best. At first you may think that it will be impossible to write a great essay that also deserves a great mark. Somehow once you start writing ideas flow and soon enough there is an outline and the essay starts coming together. I worked two weeks at perfecting my essay. I began editing and reediting and making sure it was the best it could be. Once I hit the print button I realized my fifth lesson; you always need to strive for that “feel good” moment and be proud of yourself when finishing a piece because that’s when you know you tried your best. There is that inexplicable feeling of happiness once you finish something you worked hard to do. When you achieve that moment of happiness and being proud, you know you gave it your best effort.

Most importantly, future author, never give up.

 

Yours Truly,

Guardian Angel