While going through the comments on my recent article titled Zen and the art of archery, I noticed that a few people commented that I should simplify my writing for their better understanding. My dear childhood friend Ihtisham Kabir (Shomi) who is blessed with immense intellect may also have held the same opinion because he sent me a script on how to become a better writer which was authored by Scott Adams the creator of the Dilbert comic strip. Really Shomi? Are you proposing that I take tips on writing from a cartoonist? And that too “Dilbert”! Surely the bar could have been set a little higher to perhaps Charles Schulz of Charlie Brown.
I think I should elaborate on why I write this blog. I have been writing from a very young age. I authored a fictional book while I was at university but opted not to have it published despite being given a very positive feedback from one of publishers in the U.K.
I write for several reasons which I will elaborate later in this article. The more important question is why am I sharing my writing on this blog? I started bti when I was 25 years old. I was naïve as most people are at that age and I made many mistakes which most people also do at that age. Some of these mistakes may have had very serious consequences but Allah has been kind and I got away with minor bruises. Suffering on account of the foibles of my youth, I craved for a reliable mentor who I could turn to for advice when I was faced with difficult situations. Over the years as my hair has greyed, I realize that many young people are in the same place that I was many years ago. They need a mentor.
As I have gradually moved away from the operational part of the business, I have focused more and more on developing the people in our organization. Though some would call my style and personality abrasive perhaps even boorish, I feel that I do bring benefits to the people in our company. Because this blog has a much wider audience, I have tried not to limit it to being only a mentoring platform. Nevertheless, I do hope that it will add value to the lives of so many young people who are striving for success on the slippery road of life.
I do not write to sell anything. My writing is not with an ulterior motive of personal benefit. The tips on writing suggested by Scott Adams that Shomi sent me pertain to someone who is trying to make a pitch. He suggests short crisp sentences keeping the text simple. When reading these suggestions, I could not but help recall the comment made by the Noble Prize Laureate William Faulkner about Ernest Hemingway’s simple style of writing. “Hemingway has never been known to use a word which may send the reader to the dictionary”.
I do not profess to be a literary person. I am a practical entrepreneur. I write in a matter of fact style which is my own. Though I have enjoyed reading many great novels and I have an appreciation for literary works, I do not possess the gift of writing eloquently. So, if someone comments that my writing should be made simpler, I take it as a compliment because all the great writings that I have enjoyed are anything but “simple”. I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck when I was a teenager. I was completely enthralled reading his 5 page description of a sunset. War and Peace is a great novel which captures the social nuances of the Russian high society in the early 19th century and Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. Over 4 elaborate volumes it is an enrapturing saga written most delectably. Considering the vast number of characters in the novel, the author shows his genius in keeping the readers connected to the plot at all times. But once he has completed the story, Leo Tolstoy gives his intellect a free reign in the 100 page epilogue. Each sentence is intense with deep meaning where I found myself having to read some paragraphs multiple times to comprehend the argument. Mr. Tolstoy was certainly not going by Scott Adam’s sage advice to write crisp short sentences.
In the good old days, we were taught in school to keep a diary. In the digital age, most kids have probably never seen a diary because like many other things of the past, the dairy has been substituted by the laptop. Though the laptop is far more versatile, somehow it does not provide the same emotional ties that people developed with their diary. (In today’s parlance the old obsolete diary is better known as a journal and it is maintained digitally). The diary was essentially a tool for us to get into the habit of writing. Here are some of the immense benefits of writing-
Writing can be cathartic. It can help lift a heavy weight off your chest- As Terry Tempest said in Why We Write, “I write to make peace with things I cannot control. I write to create a fabric in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change.”
Writing bolsters creativity- Even in the most practical fields like entrepreneurship, creativity is what separates the best from the rest. Like muscles in our body, creativity needs to be exercised for it to grow. Whether you paint, sculpt, write or indeed pursue any other creative passion, it is vitally important to ensure that it does not fade away with the ravages of aging.
Writing helps declutter the mind- In our ever so busy lives which seem to be moving at warp speed, things can become confusing. We are over loaded with information and the pressure of competition is immense in almost every field. It is natural to be stressed while facing deadlines and trying to find solutions to so many different things in our personal and professional lives. Writing a journal helps us get clarity and simplify the complex matters.
There was a time when our previous generations used to take pride in the art of writing. Leaders of yesteryears from Nehru to Churchill were prolific writers. Unfortunately, the digital age of videos has all but killed the practice and passion of writing. One of the disastrous effects of this trend I notice is that many working professionals in our corporate world have started acting illiterate. If they receive a memo or a letter, they have panic attacks. This is because once they left their educational institution, they also said goodbye to writing thereby losing their confidence in writing. This is a tremendous setback. By not continuing to practice their writing skills, so many people have become unlettered.
Writing is a unique characteristic of the human species. Over hundreds of years writing has been an integral part of human development in art, culture and knowledge. Societies all over the world consider the writing skill of a person as a measure of his knowledge, capability and intellectual standing. It is a pity that we have doctors telling us to exercise in order to remain healthy but we are not often told that it is equally important to keep our intellect and creative instincts healthy.
“Imagination is like a muscle. I found out that the more I wrote, the bigger it got”. Philip Jose Farmer