Developing The Skill Set
I was recently told by someone that he wanted to have the ability to think quickly and write down things in a clear and meaningful way. That is the life skill he wanted to develop. I was asked for help and guidance in how to develop this.
There are a number of ways but the one trick I have learnt over the years is simple; make it so that your brain and your hand are working in unity with each other.
The first thing you need to consider is that how you speak something, assuming you speak clearly and reasonably well, is usually the way it is best to write the thing down. Imagine being asked to write a letter to the Prime Minister in the exam asking him to make some positive changes in your area. What would you put? Would you be the one sitting there on the day thinking “well I know what I would say to him in person, but have not got a clue how to write it down?”
If this is the case then I think you have missed the point.
Try this task in your own time. Get from somewhere, a recording device, an ipod, or tape player, anything that can record, even a phone nowadays can do that. Then begin with “Dear Prime Minister” and carry on as if you was speaking to him in person. Then save it to the device.
Then, word for word, write it out, but before you do, add underneath the comma at the end of “Dear Prime Minister,” these words: “I am writing to you to ask your permission to make a change in my area.” Then word for word, add your words.
Does this make sense yet?
When done, re-record the whole letter and you will see that apart from the beginning bit, which needs to be formal, the rest is you being you. End it with a “Yours sincerely”, leave a 6 line gap and then add, in capital letters, your name [which should not be at the top of the letter]. There, one letter written.
When you read it back, if it is done correctly, you will see that the words you say are the words you write. That is the one secret I can think of, but then there is the added pressure of the exam and that awful moment when you run out of words.
I can hear you shouting “Help!!!”
Try to remember that the words coming from your mind have to be the words you have written down. There is no point in thinking “Heaney’s poem is a tour de force of human emotion” and then not writing it. That would be silly. Write the thing using exactly the words flowing from your mind.
Treat your body like a vessel. The idea emerges in your brain. You think a sentence. That sentence flows down your arm, through your hand, gets to the tip of your fingers and then you put pressure on the pen nib and hey presto, the word appears creating sentences, just as it was in your mind a fraction of a second before.
The worst thing you can do is think one thing and try to write another. That is a mistake.
This kind of skill that has taken me years to perfect, at the same time perfecting a 2000 word an hour typing speed. My fingers are moving at the same speed as my mind and my thoughts. That is what you need to cultivate in order to “think quickly and write down things in a clear and meaningful way.”
Have a go – you will love it when you get to doing it well. For you, writing will become a joy, just as it has for me.