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What to Do to Write Well, a Conversation

Level: Advanced


Tanya: I got to submit this essay by the end of this week. I'm having trouble with it.

Johnny: What's the problem, honey?

Tanya: I just can't get it right. It's about eating disorders.

Johnny: Do you know enough about eating disorders to write about?

Tanya: Of course I do. Don't you know I'm a health freak. I keep on a good diet religiously.

Johnny: I know that's why you have a good health and look so beautiful.

Tanya: My beauty has nothing to do with my diet, I guess. But my good health does. So, why can't I just write a descent essay on a topic I know well.

Johnny: Yeah, first is first: we must be well informed on the topic in order to write well. But you sound you know enough about it.

Tanya: I can't think of anything more to write on this topic. Why do I get stuck?

Johnny: I'm a writer, make a living out of it; but still my brain goes blank at times. I totally understand what you're saying.

Tanya: Why's that happen?

Johnny: It's called writer's block. It happens for several reasons. But, in your case I have some inklings for why you're having difficulty writing your essay.

Tanya: Tell me why.

Johnny: First, the positive side of it, you know enough about this topic, eating disorder. But you can't have your brain to think of ideas on this topic. This happens because first, you get tense, I imagine, when you sit down to write.

Tanya: That's true.

Johnny: You must train your brain to relax.

Tanya: How can I teach my brain to relax? I'm not a baby any more to change my brain easily.

Johnny: That's a misconception. You can train your brain to do tasks you want.

Tanya: Ok. Tell me how.

Johnny: Do not start to write before you do this: put your pen down, lean back, and relax.

Tanya: Do you think I'll be able to relax if you just ask me to relax?

Johnny: No I don't. But you'll say it to yourself, not to me. Just say relax then think of a mantra to help you relax.

Tanya: What's mantra?

Johnny: Mantra is an object you imagine in your mind. It can be a physical or abstract image, a person or an object you love. For example, you can imagine a bouncing baby smiling at you, or a sea: vast, still and jet blue.

Tanya: But when I get tense, I can't bring my mind to that stillness to imagine all that.

Johnny: That's the work you'll begin from today on: meditate.

Tanya: I know it takes a while to learn to meditate.

Johnny: Now, two things that must be present before you begin to write: You have sufficient knowledge of the topic and you're relaxed.

Tanya: I got to work at the second one, though.

Johnny: Yes, you will. Then, the third must is let your mind think of the ideas on the topic. For that, you need to ask questions to yourself, we call them the "W-questions" or supporting questions.

Tanya: Give me an example for a "W-question".

Johnny: Here is one: What's eating disorder? The question word, 'what', begins with the letter W.

Tanya: That's neat. I've never thought before I should ask supporting questions. But, do I need to ask W-questions right in the beginning?

Johnny: No, you don'../sat-preparation/main-topic-sentence.php">main topic sentence down.

Tanya: But, isn't it the part of my problem? How am supposed to write a good main topic sentence if I'm having the writer's block?

Johnny: You can write your main topic sentence because you have sufficient information on the topic. Now the second guideline is you will think aloud to write well.

Tanya: What? What'd you mean by "think aloud"?

Johnny: Think aloud means: Think of the ideas and say aloud what it comes onto your mind and write them down--stream of thoughts--at the same time.

Tanya: So, what's the use of it?

Johnny: Honey, I can't answer all your questions now. But, I'll promise you will improve your writing if you follow these guidelines in the right order I suggest.

Tanya: Johnny, I am thankful for all this advice. Can I see you again to show you my essay.

Johnny: Don't expect a perfect essay this time if you're gonna turn it in this week. But, soon or later, depending on the amount of practice you do, your writing will improve, I promise.

Tanya: Ok. Let me wrap this up what you recommend: Have sufficient information on your topic; relax (meditate) before you begin writing; write down the main topic sentence; ask supporting questions; think aloud and write.

Johnny: You've got it all right, honey. I know you're smart.

Tanya: Thanks so much, Johnny. I'll call you soon.

Johnny: No problem. Any time.


eating disorders: A group of serious conditions in which the person is preoccupied with food and weight that he or she often either don'../sat-preparation/supporting-paragraphs.php">supporting paragraphs on eating disorders.

Writer's block: compound noun. A condition in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be a temporary difficulty in dealing with the writing task at hand. In serious cases, "blocked" writers may become unable to produce work for years. It can manifest as the affected writer viewing their work as unsatisfactory.

As for an average person, who is having difficulty in writing because of a sense of blockage ("I just cannot think of any ideas to write about the topic"), but not because of lacking sufficient information on the topic may be associated with experiencing anxiety about writing, or simply being short of practice. In this case, practice by using effective strategies is the answer to overcome writing problems eventually.

mantra: noun. Hinduism. A verbal phrase repeated in prayer or meditation

stream of thoughts: compound noun. A conscious experience of an individual regarded as a continuous, flowing series of images and ideas running through the mind. See the article Think Aloud to Write Well





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