Academic writing is a formal type of writing that follows certain patterns, planning, tone, styles, and organization of words and sentences. It should be concise, backed with evidence. It is about good formal writing, deductive reasoning with certain planning and patterns, tones and styles.
When I was at the school level, I was free and I’d write anything I wanted. There were no rules no organization, nothing just a bunch of words to form sentences. I would end up writing an essay as a debate; I used to write letters with no closing and signature. There was no one to question my writing skills, so I ended up being free in writing. Until grade 10, I was just a tyro. After I completed my School Leaving Certificate (SLC), I started learning about formality in writing. I began writing essays, letters, speeches, reports, and so on formally with style, planning, evidence, and pattern.
After that, I joined my bachelor’s. I tried to learn more about this academic writing thing. I had to hustle a lot in learning. I tried collaborating with my friends and teachers to learn things. While my bachelor’s were running, I joined a private school and started teaching there. This job and my study simultaneously had some stress on me, but this, too, was fruitful in making me better in writing. The interaction with teachers and friends in my college, with students in the school, was amazingly doing a job to make me better. I used to interact with my friends and teachers through various kinds of formal writing. We used to compete for letter and essay writing and end up discussing the mistakes and finding the solution. I started maintaining coherence and cohesion. I started emphasizing the organization related to writing. In comparison to my previous writing, I started to be more formal, following certain rules and grammar. I also started getting involved in conferences, meetings, and other formal meet-ups. These things made a favorable environment for me to learn and explore in academic writing.
In my master’s degree, I learned many things about formal writing. I started reading textbooks, magazines, newspapers and other documents having formal write-ups. I mostly enjoyed staying in the library reading books from top authors and scholars. I preferred research-oriented books and journals. The classroom, teachers, friends and the collaboration among them helped me a lot to sharpen my formal writing skills. I had to prepare reports, write letters, other write-ups and thesis. My thesis topic on M.Ed. was “English Language Proficiency of Magar and Brahmin Students in Rupandehi District ”. During my thesis preparation, I learned much about academic writing. Up to this point in my life, I progressed bit by bit.
After my Master’s degree, I left Kathmandu and drove back to my hometown. In my home town, I started searching for jobs, for which I needed CV’s & resume. Many institutions had started using resume tracking software, so I had to prepare a resume in a more formal way.
Later on, I got selected and I started teaching in a college and a school. I also got involved in various non-profit and social organizations where I had to prepare formal documents. In this way, after I came back my formal academic writing skills got even sharper. At this point in time, I became able to write with style, organizational pattern and with a purpose.
I found that Academic Writing is similar to riding a bike. While riding a bike we have to watch ahead, control the accelerator, control the gear, beware of the clutch and also maintain the balance. Similarly, with academic writing, we have to maintain and balance various things. We should be clear about the purpose, use the best strategy and styling not forgetting the needs and interests of the audience.
Studying a course in bachelor’s degree cleared up one misconception: I used to think I had been a pro in academic writing. Previously, I used to think that academic writing meant writing stuff in patterns with style and organization only. I never cared about the audience aspect. I learned about the importance of the audience later on. Academic writing is audience-oriented writing. The audience affects our writing. If we take the audience into consideration we are likely to change and flex our composition that best suits the audiences. We should focus on caring audience and their interest in our writing. I also learned that I should focus on writing and asking myself some questions related to the audience approach. I started asking myself some questions myself before writing. I ask questions like, Who are my target audience and who will be interested in my writing and research stuff?, Will my audience agree with my saying?, If my audience says no, What should I change?, What counter questions should I be prepared and worried about?
I also learned about the strategy, purpose, organization and style approach of academic writing and about their interconnection. I also knew about the various characteristics of academic writing like formality, objectivity, explicitness, accuracy, consistency, precision, complexity, hedging and responsivity. Firstly the purpose of the writing should be crystal clear, only then we can use various strategies to achieve them. The text in the writeups should be written in proper structure and have a regular organization such that they are understandable. The other thing I knew is about the proper styling of writing. Academic writing should be formal following certain rules such that the message conveyed is clear and formal.
And with the modernization and use of computers and the internet in Nepal. My academic writing got even better. With the internet, proof-reading, dictionaries and other grammar tools, my writing became even better. I can now access different e-books, journals, magazines, writeups, etc. from the internet and learn easily. After using the internet I became clear about plagiarism, piracy, citation, creative works and more. So, this information technology has brought some positive changes to my academic writing skills.
So, from my experience, I see that my academic writing skills were not satisfactory during my undergraduate period. However, with the time my skills have been improved, yet It is forever a learning process. Such writing gets improved with failures and constant effort and learning.