7 MIN READ
We at The Record learn as much from Writing Journeys, Tom Robertson’s curated series on writing, as our readers do. As writers and journalists, we are always learning, always growing, and we find invaluable advice in the experiences of others, especially those whose backgrounds differ from ours. Whether it is the sage advice of an experienced journalist like Kunda Dixit, a literary figure like Manjushree Thapa, a filmmaker like Kesang Tseten, or an activist Sarita Pariyar, there is much to be learned from all of their journeys.
Tom Robertson says, “I'm so proud to be part of a team that cares so much about good writing. I have enjoyed and learned from your thoughtful observations here. And I'm very grateful to all of our contributors, as well. Let's keep the conversation going!”
Here is a selection of advice that The Record team has found personally insightful and motivating.
Sajeet M Rajbhandari, reporting intern:
“I learnt so much from Kunda [Dixit]: being engaging is more important than showing off; that jargon is unforgivable; that pretty much anything can be cut by half; and that a poorly structured piece can point to a failure of reporting/research or logic.”
Growing up, my father would often accuse my writings of being too flowery. I would digress from my actual story and would be more focused on making pretty sentences. Anagha Neelakantan’s advice is a reminder to me that while seeing your editors cut out sentences and paragraphs from your work can sting, simple writing is often the most effective.
Marissa Taylor, assistant editor:
I have learnt something from every Writing Journey but the one piece that has really stuck with me is Amish Mulmi’s. I loved how he drew an analogy between his daily runs and his writing (much like Haruki Murakami in What I talk about when I talk about running) and the many thoughtful suggestions. The most useful advice among them is this:
“Do not fall in love with your first draft. You will probably have to mutilate it before you arrive at something you can send out to the world. Do not be so attached to your words that you refuse to see the rubbish the first draft often is.”
This is a problem I used to face a lot, and still do sometimes. I had difficulty pressing that ‘delete’ button on the words I had written, even if they did not really add to my writing. I would get so attached to my words that it was impossible for me to ‘murder my darlings’ and would even take silent offense when my editors would brutally edit my pieces.
I have learnt better now, and understand that to write clearly you have to proceed objectively and without attaching yourself too much to what you have written. Revising and editing every sentence you write is crucial to the writing process and the only way you can become a better writer.
Prasansha Rimal, reporting intern:
“Concise writing requires making tough decisions. You need to pick your most important points. You need to make priorities.”
It's easy to find information on any topic with a Google search. This can be a blessing but also a curse if you find it difficult to decide on what is important for your story at the moment. It is necessary to have a clear idea or have decided on what should be the main focus of your writing, even before attempting research. Even research needs to have some limitations.
Pranaya Rana, editor:
“In my writing, there is likely hidden a dream to change the world with words. But more so, I am trying to change myself. There’s an ongoing duty to take a stand against oppression wherever possible but what is becoming more necessary is to create structures and relations that are free of oppression, and to make oneself democratic, humane, and just.”
These lines from Rajendra Maharjan resonate with me because they point to the twin impulses in any piece of writing – a desire to reach out, communicate, and change something external but at the same time, to look inwards, reflect on oneself, and change something internal. To me, writing is not one or the other; it is both. To write simply for oneself would be self-indulgent navel-gazing but to write simply for others would be dishonest and inconstant. Rajendra ji’s Writing Journey tells us that writing is not just about interpreting the world but also about changing it.
Sarita Pariyar speaks to this same idea in her writing journey too. She writes:
“Writing has multiple meanings for me. I am inspired by Hannah Arendt, a German political theorist, who says “writing is understanding. Writing is an integral part of the process of understanding.” To me, writing is about expressing thoughts and emotions, knowing the self and the world.”
I admire both Rajendra ji and Sarita ji a lot. Through their writings, I have learned much about Nepali society, class, gender, and caste. They, along with many others in our Writing Journeys series, speak truth to power. Their writings have taught me that good writing builds on a foundation of the personal to speak more persuasively about the world at large. Our lives and our struggles are at once individual and collective.
Shristi Sherchan, social media intern:
“...it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. They say you are better than the worst thing you have ever done, right? I think you are better than the best thing you have ever written. When I am writing, I can be better than myself.”
These lines have helped me stay motivated when writing a new piece. It’s easy to compare yourself to others when it comes to writing but in reality, rather than competing, you should be watching yourself grow. Tenzin Dickie’s writing journey has helped me realize that and attempt to live by it.
Aishwarya Baidar, reporting intern:
“The most important tip from my teachers was that we should write simply and clearly. Writing is not about showing off your vocabulary or craft, but about communicating clearly and well.”
In my third year as a media student, Kunda Dixit was one of my professors and he used to encourage us to write and to write simply. Anagha Neelakantan imparts the same lesson in her writing journey, remarking that “being engaging is more important than showing off.” I always keep this piece of advice in mind while I write.
The Record We are an independent digital publication based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Our stories examine politics, the economy, society, and culture. We look into events both current and past, offering depth, analysis, and perspective. Explore our features, explainers, long reads, multimedia stories, and podcasts. There’s something here for everyone.
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