Things To Remember

Things To Remember: How a Coursera Course changed my views on my writing and life

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You don’t have to sound smart. You should just trust that you are smart and that your ideas are important enough -Dr Denise Comer

I got this piece of advice from one of the most unexpected places: a Coursera course. Dr Denise Comer (not pictured) is an assistant professor ofWriting Studies at Duke University. She also teaches the Coursera course English Composition I which I completed in 2013. You should take it if you want to improve your craft.

Something I struggle with when writing is the complexity of my words and turns of phrases. I don’t feel like I sound intelligent enough…too simplistic. I don’t feel like I write up to the standards of say The Guardian UK (my oga at the top). I read through that site and sometimes twist myself in knots wondering if I will ever write like that. By the time Gary Younge gives me:

The precise alchemy that makes one particular death politically totemic while others go unmourned beyond their families and communities is not quite clear.

I’ll just sit with my chin in my hand and be looking at the screen. *whisper* I printed Gary’s article out to pick it apart and find out what makes it tick. No luck.

I tell myself that it means I want to keep improving on my writing. I tell myself that because I finished from the University of Abuja, that’s why the word totemic doesn’t spring out to be used in my work. I understand these words and can spell them in my sleep but for them to manifest in my work and make me look super smart? Problem. I tell myself that I just need a masters from the abroad and all will be sorted. And then I can get my work on the Guardian. #relationshipgoals

But I have to remember the words of Professor Comer. I have to trust that if I write down carefully considered and well researched ideas, the readers will see that and relate.

I’ve also applied this to my life. No longer do I try to push out words that my brain knows but my tongue is unfamiliar with. I trust that when I speak, my ideas will be conveyed. I will not Patrick Obahiagbon myself.

I was lucky to attend a masterclass taken by Gary Younge and he also had a great piece of advice when it comes to writing-

Clarity is Everything

Just be clear about what you’re saying, don’t obfuscate muddle what you’re trying to say.

On the whole, I communicate better by not cracking my brain over the more intelligent ways to say a word.

I just write and live life. 
Photo Credit: daystar297 via Compfight cc

2 thoughts on “Things To Remember: How a Coursera Course changed my views on my writing and life

  1. You have just won yourself a fan. I stumbled upon your website searching through LinkedIn for old classmates, and I have been stuck here for hours. I know I have some writing talent but I used to feel the same as you, wanting to be able to drop a very intelligent article, knowing the words to use but not trusting that it is good enough to achieve the result I want it to. I got my first major boost when I won a national essay writing competition, I was 11 then. I am seriously considering taking that coursera course too, may be, just may be, I’ll be like you when I grow up.

    1. Thank you so much Terri. LOL@ when I grow up. I think writing is one of the best ways of expressing yourself, so if you want to write, just write. For the longest time I felt that the “muse” has to come upon me before I could write. I still think that way sometimes but thank God, more often than not these days I just write. So set aside the great Coursera course for now and just rediscover that 11 year old essay writer.

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