Musings on Writing

Musings on Writing

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

 

Comments (22)
  • Needless to say your writings is useful to us. We perceive and enjoy it.

    • Sir I immensely enjoy your blog. Please do not change your style, it gives me a fresh perspective and gives me hope that there is light at the end of tunnel.

  • This article gave me a strong reference to confront the critics who used to laugh at my habit of writing diaries. I used to write since my school days and till date, one of my shelves is filled with twenty three pieces of note and scrap books which are full of my stories, my views on contemporary issues, paper cuttings and photos. Not necessarily I write everyday but I do it quite often. Sometimes, when I feel down, I go through the pages, recall memories and try to get source of motivation. This is where I feel very comfortable as it is only for Me, about Me and by Me. And no one have access to my world.

    I am maintaining a Decision Diary for last twenty years which is someway different than others, where I used to write vital issues, decisions, its’ merits and demerits which might affect me or my family. My education to switching jobs, marriage to taking child, savings scheme to retirement plan all are there. But there is no right or wrong in these decisions as time is a dominant factor in determining the results. These decisions or my way of analysis at that very time play significant role in taking calculated risk in my future decision making.

    Thank you again Sir for the inspiration I got from your article. Once I told you, “it is very difficult to have a RIGHT guide at our age where most bosses hardly shares knowledge and wisdom”. I still feel fortunate to have a beacon like you who is guiding us to face the challenges in days to come. May Allah grant you and madam long, healthy and prosperous life.

  • To know the writer is essential to understand his writing.We know you well ,so need not any doubt. Thanks a lot for writing the article.

  • Thoroughly enjoy your versatile writing.
    It’s good that you have come out of the operational side of your business.
    It appears that we possibly belong to similar decades if Shomi is your friend.
    Myself and Shomi know of each other very well although met possibly twice in our lives!
    Professionally we couldn’t be any further!
    Ayaz
    (Saudi’s brother-ask Shomi)

  • I am not much of a book reader. Only read a few. I Enjoyed reading your article. The interesting part is that I could read it in one go. Keep on writing. Short stories would be good to read.

  • You are our mentor Sir…
    Your articles help me to developing myself and guide me to act properly in every way of life.

  • Reader criticism is not well received by all writers. But you have identified yourself as a writer with a big mind.

  • You will be a better person when you stop judging people and focus on yourself.

    • Dear Mr. Haider,
      Please continue your writing which will be helpful to our young generation.

      You may also start writing on our social disorders.

      Please keep it up with your views.

  • Readers are the lifeblood of writing. So the opinion of the reader should be given importance but keeping one’s own individuality.

  • Obviously I am with same opinion with you about the writing habit. Please keep it on and circulate more to peoples for thinking better to upgrade their mentality through your articles.

  • This is usual that any published composition is for the readers to understand so that they can extract the essence to have better insight and sharpen their own thoughts. The philosophy of writing lies in between two lines (The empty space where there are no words), the readers are to perceive that. If the synchronization of thoughts between the author and the reader doesn’t match the viewpoint of the composition becomes variable.

    Every author should have a distinct writing style, a different way of choosing words, its uses and references. It is his/her ‘thyself’ that plays a vital role for the effectiveness of writing, and the popularity of the author.

    I am a frequent reader of the blog posts of arshihaider.com. As a simple reader I understand and enjoy the posts and always look forward to having the next one.

  • We are very much delighted to have the opportunity to read the multifaceted articles in this blog. These articles come out of huge study, analysis and real life experience. The subject matter of the articles knows no bounds. Sir presents all the articles with his sincere study, knowledge, long experience and own philosophy which becomes a true guideline for the readers. However, most of the time we are not able to write our comments but highly illuminated ourselves with these precious articles. We believe that as a true mentor Sir will share his selfless guidance and experiences more with us. Wish for all peace, happiness and good health for Sir and his family.

  • Reader’s knowledge increases through reading the author’s writing. And the writer gets inspiration through constructive criticism of the reader. May the writer-reader sweet relationship remain intact.

  • The marvel of practice good writing becomes obsolete by means of increased digitalophobia.

  • One month ago, one of my colleagues suddenly lost his job. He is very good at work but was against top managing micro-managing. I was in a bad mood that day, suddenly I saw your writing on my Facebook feed in the through of digital marketing. I click on add, it feels good to read. Since then I read your writing regularly. Good luck to you.

  • In the world, No one is perfect, and criticism is always welcome and expected.

  • If you publish your writings in book form, I think the next generation will be inspired to read them.

  • This article is one of the finest composition of the author that I came across. It reveals the background of his literary works since student life. Short and simple sentences using words that are commonly used and understood communicate better. Thus it inspires people to read and makes reading habits amongst the masses. The writers and the references he made in the article say this.

    Effective writing, effective communication and/ or effective writing skills- all these subjects talk about more or less the same thing. During my graduate study at Defence Services Command and Staff Collage (DSCSC), Mirpur I came across this topic first in my life. DSCSC faculty members and resource persons from home and abroad deliberated on this topic so nicely that I can remember now almost verbatim. We wrote dissertation applying this norm at the end of graduation. After going through this topic: “Musings on Writing” I got my memory refreshed.

    All great writers have their own style, motivation behind writing and the individuality reflected vividly in their writings. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and Rebel Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam’s literary works bear this testimony.

    In “Musings on Writing”, the author has informed the readers the genesis and the chronicle of his writing till date. From his narration we came to know the unpublished saga of his work, which could earn him enormous name and fame. Assured of quality by the publisher, he did not do so and clarified amply the motive behind writings. His writings in this blog reflect his rich stock of literary works, depth of knowledge gained through research works and his own study of the famous books.

    I strongly recommend author should endeavor to publish his works, which, if brought out in book form would benefit the societies at large.

  • Dear Sir,

    Good morning!
    I hope you are keeping well along with family and friends. The biggest advantage of human race is we can communicate in different forms. Writing itself is a metaphor to me because when we write, there is no hinderance and free flow of thoughts and experience coming from one’s creative mind. I personally have a deep respect on the way you characterize your biography and passion, leadership through writing. Writing is timeless, having no boundary.

    Looking forward to have your another write-up in future. It would be a kind of invaluable advice to be aware on your time-management after being professionally and socially engaged in so many things.

    With regards,
    Naser

  • An enthusiastic paean to the act of writing.

    One of the losses of this age of the electronic communication is the letter. No one writes letters any more. They write emails, SMSes, chats, WhatsApps, vibers… And they don’t reply, they revert. Letters of Abelard and Heloise, letters from Nehru to Indira Gandhi,… – don’t think we will see too many like those in the future.

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