by Nomsa Chirisa
Writing is often thought to be for the masterminds, requiring luck or expensive training; but that’s not how it is. If it is anything like that, then you are the mastermind!
Good readers make good writers. Meticulous editors and prudent writers are widely read – they stay abreast with trends, developments, changes and so forth.
Writers are always aware and cautious of the emerging issues which attract the global eye and attention, not only in their profession, but across various disciplines.
Among other issues, the purpose of writing is to inculcate and instil a certain mindset and culture in the reader’s mind. To achieve this, writers are implored to be vigilant in their writing.
There are issues which are being brought into light on a global scale which require careful treading as you write. You don’t want to come across as a careless writer, neither do your readers want to read a carelessly written copy. While your audiences are not mind-readers, be careful that what you write is reflective of the way you think.
This is one huge elephant in the room that should not be underrated. Concerns about the world are being raised over gender imbalances where one gender has been perceived as inferior for a long time. As you write or give examples in your story, change the current affairs. But how do you achieve this? There are many ways to avoid gender imbalances, so here are a few:
- Female characters should take the lead role in your story.
- Female characters should take complex professions rather than confining them to domestic occupations.
- Having the male characters doing domestic and ‘women’ roles such as cooking, feeding the baby or even laundry.
- When writing names, start with the name of the female character
- Use gender-neutral phrases
The world is going green, and that’s a cause that the publishing industry is also actively contributing towards – a paperless environment. As writers, and publishers, we are tasked with the challenge of embracing technology for environmental care. The world is advocating for reduced deforestation, and bearing in mind that the paper we use to print our books comes from trees, why don’t we avoid the printing route where feasible and opt for the environmentally friendly electronic methods?
This concern is fuelled by the growing demand to catch up and embrace technological advancements which have enveloped the world, the publishing industry being no exception. Although the bond between paper and readers cannot be detached, it’s still possible to avoid the print models where the audience can use e-media to buy and read their books. After all, e-models are less costly because printing is the largest cost factor in book publishing, and e-publishing easily takes you where the market is!
Because writers edit their own work, they have the ability to choose words carefully. It’s easy to find yourself in a bias dilemma when you least expect it. Whenever you sit down to write, sift what you are about to say. You do not want to sound unfair on any race, gender, ethnic group, culture, or anyone for that matter. My college lecturer always said, “let your words pass through filters before you say them.” Writing requires objectivity rather than subjectivity. Here are a few tips to help you avoid bias when writing:
- Avoid being selective – generalise your facts
- Be objective and careful in your choice of words, quality and tone of description
- Check for factual assumptions
- Explain circumstances/reasons for a certain fact, cause or situation
This is closely linked to bias, but they are not the same. While bias is concerned with being unfair or subjective, defamation is harming another person’s reputation. Both issues are common, especially in writing and you may have heard about writers or publishers being sued and paying damages for this. The tips above can help you avoid being defamatory in your writing, but to be more careful, make sure that your writing does not expose anyone to hatred, ridicule, contempt, shunning, or being avoided; or lowering anyone in the eyes of society, discrediting them in their trade, business or profession.
One writer once said you should not get too hung up on rules, and we often break a few of them when writing. But this whole lot is practical. Among other things, your reader will be delighted to read your copy if it is attentive to the changes in the global communities because they are also aware of these. So, as a writer, the task is on you to pay attention to the things that you write and how you write them. After all, your writing is putty in your hands – you mould it and shape it in the best way that suits the purpose while being careful not to neglect the weather aspect. And these emerging issues sum it up somewhat nicely – you’d rather misplace your writing pad than your writers’ guard.
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