You Can Be a Great Writer Even Though Your English Sucks


WARNING: You would hate reading the first paragraph.

When it comes to writing, it’s always substance over form, a concept whereby transactions and other events and conditions should be accounted for and presented in accordance with their substance and not merely their legal form. This enhances…

Huwaaat???!!! STOP. STOP. STOP.

Okay, sorry. An accounting nerd possessed me. But seriously, what if I write like that? What if I use jargons or any of those alienic words I learned from my undergrad or masteral so I could impress you a bit? Or what if I write so seriously? Would you still be interested in reading my blog?

I actually considered titling this post “When It Comes to Writing, It’s Always Substance Over Form.” But then I realized it’s not something catchy, not because of the choice of words but because it’s not something that can connect to the readers.

The other day, a close friend and I were talking about the challenges we were currently going through. One of her replies struck me to the core. I was so impressed by the depth of it (or in Filipino, may hugot; in gay lingo, may “who goat”) that I told her she could be a writer. She said she would consider but I should help with editing because she’s not that confident with her english.

My student AC has the same problem. Her first language is english but her English teacher commented that she doesn’t write well. She was wondering why since her compositions were just the same as that of her classmates who got excellent grades — except that her choice of words was simple. And honestly, I disagree with the teacher. I don’t know what her criteria of a good essay are, and I’m giving her credit for being an English teacher, but I see a promising writer in my student.

© Husni Bramantyo

As a voracious reader who can even read a 300-page english novel in one sitting, I’ve seen almost all kinds of writers. Before, I used to read books or articles word per word. Now, since I can already tell right away if the author is good just by the first few paragraphs, I would just usually skim through most of them. I would just get the gyst. HOWEVER, there are exceptional writers who can make me read the whole material without my awareness. They have this writing style that can make you finish reading what they wrote no matter how long it was. What’s the adjective nga? Compelling? Wow. What magic do they have?

That’s the kind of writer I’ve seen in my student and my friend. They have the power to appeal to the emotions. And I think that’s the kind of writer any aspiring writer should aim for (including me). What’s the use of being able to use big words when the readers wouldn’t even go past beyond the first few paragraphs? What’s the use of writing when you cannot even move your readers? What’s the use of having a flawless grammar when your message wouldn’t even stay in your readers’ mind for even just a few minutes? 

Grammar is important. Coherence is important. But once you have made a touch down in the hearts or minds of your readers, these things barely matter anymore. And if you’re really not confident, ask someone to edit your material. But still… it’s the message that counts.

Substance over form.

Aim high,

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* IFRS definition

P. S. You know what? I’ve found out, most writers eventually become speakers. You can become a successful speaker, too! Find out how by clicking this link. 

Photo Credits:

1st:; 2nd: © Husni Bramantyo


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