Wednesday, 15 October 2014

On Writing in English


A new post in the series - Reminders to self




It is day 5 of Write Tribe's week-long challenge. The challenge today is to write a "Tips" post. Now who am I to give anyone any advice or tips on anything worthwhile?

But how about if this post becomes a means to remind me of some great advice or tips on something important? That would be excellent.

Day 4 had me write a post in Hindi, about Hindi. But English is what comes naturally to me when I write. Thus the thought came that I should write today about writing in English. And when it comes to writing good English who better to approach for some wonderful advice than Sri Aurobindo, the seer-poet who gave to the world its longest poem in English language, Savitri with 24,000 lines.

In the extracts quoted below, we find some very good suggestions or tips for writing English prose, which is why I find especially helpful for myself. Hope some of the readers will also find them helpful.

I can only say generally avoid over-writing; let all your sentences be the vehicle of something worth saying and say it with a vivid precision neither defective nor excessive. Don’t let either thought or speech trail or drag or circumvolute. Don’t let the language be more abundant than the sense. Don’t indulge in mere clever ingenuities without a living truth behind them. I think that is all. (14 June 1935)
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Your English is already correct as a rule. If you want style and expression, that is another matter. The usual outward means is to read good styles and impregnate oneself with them; it has of itself an influence on the writing. (27 May 1934) 
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… Indians have naturally in writing English a tendency to be too coloured, sometimes flowery, sometimes rhetorical... One ought to have in writing English a style which is at its base capable of going to the point, saying with a simple and energetic straightforwardness what one means to say, so that one can add grace of language without disturbing this basis....It is surely better to write your own thoughts. The exercise of writing in your own words what another has said or written is a good exercise or test for accuracy, clear understanding of ideas, an observant intelligence...(16 May 1932)

~ Letters on Poetry and Art. Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, Vol. 27, pp. 627-628

Image: Google

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For some more inspiring advice on writing from Sri Aurobindo you may want to click here and here.

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To see previous post in the series, Reminders to self, click here.
To see all posts in the series, click here.

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