I was lazily scrolling down the questions and answers on Quora. When I had first known about that site, it was full of mind-boggling, interesting and informative questions and answers. These days, nice questions are rare and answers are more sarcastic than informative.
So, as I was scrolling down, I received a notification. Someone had requested answer to a question, “What is the formula for excellent essay writing?”
This is a popular question. A lot of people have already answered the question and yet people ask it over and over again. I looked at some of the answers and said to myself, “Why do so many people asking for a formula for writing an essay or an article or a story? And why, despite several answers, they are not satisfied?”
My brain began imagining fictional characters and scenes since I was seven. My first story (which has not yet been written on paper) was Shivam: The Sailor, inspired by stickers of ships with the name Shivam (probably the name of the company that produced them) under them. I imagined my stories in my native language Nepali but dialogues in English. And I used to tell them to my imaginary friends. The trend continued for more than five years with many superhero characters: Rakerilisis (Raker = Robotic, Ilisis = Hero; a name I had imagined myself) aka Ram, Vikram, Mike, Richard, Roger and many others.
In school, we were often given “handwriting” homeworks and teachers used to tell something like: “Copy two paragraphs from page number 34 stories”. At the age of twelve, I completely rejected the idea of copying down from the books. I brought the story of Rakerilisis (changing the name to Star Man, the hero) and Mike (the anti-hero) onto my handwriting homework. I was not sure how my teacher would react, but she praised it. I was encouraged.
I wrote more as years passed. I don’t remember most of them, some of the stories were lost before they came to paper and some after being penned. After I read an essay collection from Nagendra Raj Sharma, I started confidently writing essays and that inspired me to blog.
In all these years of writing my heart out, I never looked for a formula. Sharma’s essays had taught me that there is no real formula in writing. The basic structures of essay writing that we were taught in school need not be followed strictly. In a way, I rejected the concept of using formula on free writing.
Whenever I hear the word “formula”, I think of Mathematics and I also remember my father and some of my teachers saying, “Formula eases problem solving in Maths in many cases. With the help of formula, we don’t need to repeat the long process of derivation to solve similar problems.” This applied while I studied calculus in high school.
In free writing however, there is no short-cut. You have to go through the same basic process again and again even if you are a recognized writer. You always write for your target audience, you always need some knowledge in what you are writing for credibility, you must always convey a meaningful message you always wait for the response of the readers.
Writers have their own thought-processes and their own styles. Their processes and styles may not work for others. They can’t even guarantee their process will work for themselves every time. That’s why I haven’t found a hard and fast rule that applies to everyone. This must be the reason people are not satisfied with the “formula” others give.
The only thing that can help writers succeed is PRACTICE and PATIENCE. Practice makes them better than they were earlier. Patience helps them continue even when they are low. Writing again and again may be the only thing that promotes excellent writing.
Note: First published on Blogger’s World.