Sunday, March 28, 2010

Teenagers, start a diary!

* My diary collection. The oldest I have is from 1996, filled with 'how to write novels' notations from writing guide books I read in the teaching college's library. I have no diary from my teen years. Reason being, I destroyed them all because they were too corny.

Students ask me all the time how they can improve their essay writing skill. I can always professionally say they must write more essays. But no, I'm not going to say that . I've said it before and I'm going to say it again: Kids, START A DIARY!

These are the steps to do so:

1. Go to a stationery shop and buy the best looking dairy there is. The design is up to you. You like the flowery/ cartoony type go ahead. You like the cold, black/ brown/ blue ones go ahead. Make sure it has firm binding and it is at least as thick as your little finger. If it's too thin it will feel flimsy in your grip and you won't like it. It's just like having a flaky friend and you don't want that.

2. Begin writing with the date on top. I believe that a diary is like your own progress chart. Years later you might want to know how was your state of mind. Dates anchor you to the history of your life, so write it down before anything.

3. Sometimes it's hard to write down your feelings, so don't! Especially if you have a nagging feeling that some arch-enemy of yours is going to have a peek at your secret tome. Write about songs you love, a great TV episode that keeps you awake at night just thinking about it. Or movies that you really love and great books you have read. Of course, write about that boy or that girl that has imprinted his/ her image in your mind. Give him/ her nicknames to avoid detection unless you want detection. Then you can wax lyrical about the person.

4. Write and write. And if there is an English teacher who wants to read you diary - like me, let her have it. Probably she'll gasp and draw cartoons on your pages and correct your grammar mistakes and she'll give you that secret smile in class.

You will see how your sentences taking a better structure and how your fountain of ideas flow like the well of zam-zam. Then you'll never say "I didn't have any idea what to write, teacher" after you're awarded a dismal, dying grade for English. Of course you can write your diary in Malay or any language you want to improve on.

So, head to that stationery store now!

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