I had always excelled at and enjoyed language and literature throughout Primary and Middle school. However, after choosing Science-based subjects, I stopped investing time in writing my own pieces. I did not want to lose my touch with writing and decided to participate in various online essay competitions for young authors. I specifically chose ones which allowed me to write on the real world and its issues.
My strong suit is my curiosity about the real world and the forces that shape it. I was easily able to absorb myself in the topics that were provided by the organizers. However, I learnt that while my writing was well- structured, it included a lot of information and difficult words. In my first draft, I found that this was disrupting the flow and simplicity of the piece. This led to the realisation that the main purpose is not to make the essay as complex as possible. It should be a story that captivates the reader and provides a refreshing and original perspective. It should be easy to understand. For this, I had to ‘begin with the end in mind’, meaning to first plan how I want the reader to feel and what I want them to learn after reading the essay. It also taught me that I can put my own spin on the topic and tell my own story.
It was quite challenging to objectively analyse my own essays. I was never satisfied with the language or the overall impact. While writing, I would make many changes and get confused and frustrated as a result. The entire process of researching, reflecting and writing was extensive and exhaustive which I followed for three essays.
After scouring the net and locating essay competitions from reliable organizations, I was able to come up with a proper approach. This included spending a few hours deeply researching the topic, then a day or two to digest and reflect on the information. Next, I would spend some time coming up with my own criteria using a mindmap and make a schedule containing deadlines for various drafts and modifications. After writing a final piece, I would keep it aside, re-read it after a day or two and then submit it after making required changes.
Setting deadlines for myself was easy but constantly pushing myself to keep up with them was hard. On some days, words would come easily to me and fit naturally with the desired flow. On the others, I would sit with my cursor blinking for an hour, without making any progress. It was incredibly difficult to gauge what take on the topic was expected. Every essay took a lot of critical thinking to convert from a draft to the final piece. It was even harder to add my own insights about the topic that I had only researched for a few hours. However, this challenge made me a better writer and helped me gain knowledge on topics like: ‘Digitization in India’, ‘How Science can contribute to a better future’ and ‘Thought Pollution’.
For the topic ‘Digitization in India’, I explored how the coronavirus pandemic kick-started the use of digital platforms for shopping, education, payments, etc and its possible impacts on India’s economic progress. For the topic ‘How Science can contribute to a better future’, I explored how developments in technology could solve some major global issues like water shortage, organ trafficking, etc.
As this was an online competition, I could have easily obtained external assistance as I knew many of the participants would. However, my goal was to improve as a writer and to be exposed to more global issues. So, academic integrity was a significant part in achieving the same.
This experience was highly insightful. While I did not achieve a top rank for the first two essays, I recieved an honorable mention for the third one.