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How To Improve Your Writing Skills In 4 Simple Ways

Published on March 28, 2022

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How To Improve Your Writing Skills In 4 Simple Ways

The internet is exploding with blogs and articles and videos on tips and tricks on how to improve your writing skills. But more often than not, most of these sources talk about incorporating rigid practices like writing in an active voice, polishing your grammar and so on. 

And while this definitely is a useful approach, we believe that just as every person is unique, so is every writer. No two writers perceive their world in the exact same way, no two writers can write in the same hard-and-fast manner and no two writers can improve their writing skills in the same rigid fashion. Each writer has a unique perspective waiting to be penned down; and their goal as a writer is to figure out just what is their best way to do so – the best word choices, syntax, tone, mood and more. 

So in today’s article, we won’t tell you the usual run-down of pointers to polish your grammar, structure and so on. What we will give you, are 4 ways that can help you discover that unique, budding writer within yourself, and improve your writing skills to your maximum potential.

1. Shut your Mind

Set a timer for 4-5 minutes. Bring out your pen & paper or your laptop. And then, without thinking, just start writing non-stop until your alarm goes off. 

This “writing without thinking” is a very common exercise amongst those dealing with a writer’s block. But the other wonderful aspect of this is that it lays your inner writer bare. Devoid of external expectations, formatting and imposed structure, you write based purely on your instinct. Once you are done writing, you are free to explore not only your broad ideas, but also your sense as a writer, and continue to develop it further!

2. Keep a Journal

The first droplet of morning dew settling on the cold winter glass. The muted sounds of traffic through the closed car window. The amalgamating scents of the sweet and the salty at your neighborhood grocery store. Who knows what will inspire whom?

In “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” Walt Whitman describes a boy’s poetic awakening upon seeing a pair of birds nesting on the beach. And it is essential to pay heed when these mini “poetic awakenings” happen to you, because they reveal what uniquely inspires you. And having a pocket journal during these times is a great way to note down these thoughts, words, and phrases. Full-fledged stories and poems will eventually come, but it all starts with that one inspiration – and there is no better writing than inspired writing!

3. Use your Voice

Across history, writing has never been confined to paper. Shakespeare’s writings were performed. Homer’s writings were sung out loud. And even today, there are few better ways to test the feel and flow of your piece than a loud reading. Do you want your writing to be conversational? Do you want it to be claustrophobic? Do you want it to be something else?

Ernst Hemingway’s flow reads as generally casual and conversational. James Joyce’s flow, often lacking any punctuation, reads as a stream of unending thoughts. Does the flow of your writing match with its content? Read it out loud to figure out and make the changes as and when you hear them happening.

4. Reading… with a twist.

Don’t like the works of Leo Tolstoy? Have a different interpretation of Emily Dickinson? Great! Hold on to that thought! All our lives, we are made to read in a dictatorial manner. We are told this author is the best, this poem has this fixed meaning, and so on.

But we envision a kind of reading where, first and foremost, you stay true to your inner writer. Read to understand yourself. Which lines stand out for you? Which paragraphs blow your mind away? Which don’t? Reading in this critical manner is a solid way to understand your own writerly tendencies, interests and passions, and use them as a stepping stone for polishing your own unique work.

P.S. 

Interested in learning to read and write poetry in a free-flowing, interdisciplinary and non-rigid manner? Check out our one of a kind poetry workshop – Poetry in America –  in association with Arizona State University, which also confers you a college credit while in High School! You will learn a plethora of skills in our poetry classes. Apply today.

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Growth Year – Benefits of Gap Year After High School

Published on September 1, 2020

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Growth Year – Benefits of Gap Year After High School

“17 is too young to go to college,” my theology and philosophy professor once told me in our after class discussions at Cornell.

I was contemplating taking a year off from Cornell to pursue an internship with a member of Parliament back in India and wanted to get some guidance from numerous professors at Cornell. I had already taken one year after high school to go to an American boarding school called Phillips Academy for a post graduate program (popularly known as a PG year)

Taking break from the academic life after high school and in the middle of my college education were some of the best and critical decisions that I took in my life. US colleges have had a long tradition of a “deferment” and many students avail this opportunity. I hope that all children figuring out that way forward in their personal or academic life should contemplate taking a gap year or I like to call it: “The Growth year.”

I would like to highlight some of the ways the two “growth years” in life helped me before and during my academic life in the US:

1. Academic Standing:

Being from a traditional British boarding school in India, Mayo College, I was exposed to a basic CBSE education. While I performed well in my classes, we had no exposure on research papers, citations and critical writing. At Phillips Academy, I enrolled in courses like Sports Philosophy, reading music (a mandatory requirement at the school) and even took African drumming. Needless to say, I was overwhelmed but gradually understood the importance of a core curriculum. My English classes helped me score higher on the SAT and most importantly, improved my critical thinking and writing skills. I also give the credit for getting straight A’s in college to my rigorous training at Phillips Academy.

2. Athletics:

As a national squash player, I was also looking at avenues to get better at a sport that I had consumed much of my middle and high school commitments. Initial months after completing my board examinations and during my year at Phillips Academy, I got an opportunity to train and compete with the best coaches and student athletes from around the world. I competed in the US national squash circuit and the high school nationals and met Ivy league coaches looking to recruit students.

3. Work Opportunity:

Internships are critical to our growth. I am relieved that the new education policy in India mandates every high schooler to avail this opportunity. Looking at my peers at Phillips academy motivated to me to look at internships a lot more seriously. I was tired of telling people that I was just going to play squash over the summer compared to their “volunteering work in West Africa for endangered species” or “interning at the NY trading center.” Yes, these are all high school internships. After countless emails, I interned with two companies even before I embarked on my collegiate journey. I worked in the “International procurement” division at Godrej and Boyce (a conglomerate in India) and at a German consulting firm in Bangalore on bringing best sustainability resources to India. I believe that internships tell you “what you do not like to do” a lot more than “what you love to do.” These experiences give you better insight into the social and corporate structures of the world and give valuable life lessons that can be leveraged in college.

4. Do something you love:

For me, that love was squash. As mentioned before, during my “growth year,” I tried to become the best squash player I could ever be. I travelled around the world, attended a Harvard squash camp and made sure to love every single moment. After grueling 4 years of competitive academic journey, playing squash and living a healthy life was a much needed respite from the real world. I urge all the students to seek for what they truly love, travel to uncharted territories, take a music lesson and work for your community. The emotional maturity and social skills that you will acquire during these years will remain with you forever.

Contrary to popular belief, or what I like to call “Aunt/Uncle” belief in India, students are constantly told not to take a year off in their life whether that is after high school, college or while one is engrossed in their professional life. From personal experience, the “growth year” will not only help you to lead a more fulfilling and fruitful life, but will also give you a much needed pause to reflect, battle your fears and get into college or in life with a “growth mindset.”

The Big Red Group and our Ivy Early Entrepreneur Program

In our entrepreneurial workshop – Ivy Early Entrepreneur, students go through the process of business development and leave the entrepreneur program having completed a business model canvas, competitive analysis, financial model, minimum viable product, and a pitch deck.

Students get an opportunity to learn from successful entrepreneurs who are alumni of reputed universities and are experts in their respective industries.

These experts serve as coaches guiding students through the processes of developing a business concept. Risk-Taking, Decision Making, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Communication &

Storytelling, Design Thinking & Innovation, and Opportunity Recognition are a few of the key learning areas of our program.

On successfully completing the entrepreneur workshop, the guaranteed internship will be extended to all the students within our partner firms and with most of the mentors teaching the program. Students will be provided with a certificate of participation by The Big Red Group. This certificate can be used for your college portfolio.

Ivy Early Entrepreneur

11th – 17th Jan 2022

Idea Generation | Market Research | Design Thinking | Pitching

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