The Art of Clear Writing

An online writing course spread out over four weeks.

There are few things as agonizing as having something to say – but not being able to say it well enough. This course is meant to help you bridge the gap between the thought and the page. No matter what kind of writing you are interested in – fiction, essays, Op-Eds – you want your writing to be read.

At a time when all readers are surrounded by distractions, it’s a hell of a job to get anyone to finish reading something you have written. It’s vanity even to presume that your thoughts are that important. You need to respect your readers – and so, you need to work hard on making sure your writing is worth their time.

This course is organised around four webinars of 90 minutes each, which will be conducted on Zoom. The first 60 minutes of each webinar will be a lecture/presentation by me, with some interactive exercises, followed by a 30-minute interaction. If participants want the Q&A at the end to be extended, I’ll be happy to do so – the end is flexible.

I’ll provide a list of resources at the start of the course, mostly books. None of them are compulsory reading, though I think you’ll be tempted to pick them up as we go along!

Recordings of the webinars will be available for participants who could not catch them live.

In addition to this, there will also be interactive writing exercises throughout the course. We will also have a Whatsapp Group, in which links will be posted while the course is on to pieces worth reading and additional resources.

Details follow about the four webinars. Below that, you will find the dates and times for future batches, and instructions of how to sign up.

Webinar 1: The Importance of Clear Writing

This webinar will teach you how to think about writing. What are the broad principles you should embrace, and why? What are the routine mistakes you should watch out for and avoid? What tips can we keep in mind to make our writing clear? There will be advice from Orwell, Atwood and Naipaul, among others.

Webinar 2: The Sound of Language

When we read, we listen to words in our heads. Write something discordant and the reader turns away. In this webinar, I stress on why the sound of words can be as important as their meaning. Illustrations from Shakespeare, Mary Oliver and Robert Frost – among others. Even if you don’t like poetry, you will have a renewed appreciation of it after this class – and an understanding of why it is relevant to anything you write.

Webinar 3: The Building Blocks of Writing

Virat Kohli did not become a great batsman because he had god-given talent and a feel for the game. He also had to put in thousands of hours at the nets, focusing on mundane elements of technique – movement of feet, elbow position, stillness of head – till they became second nature to him. Similarly, writers need to spend time in the nets with the building blocks of their art: words, sentences, paragraphs. This webinar takes a granular look at these tools, and contains useful guidelines on how to think about them.

Webinar 4: Building a Writer

Being a writer involves more than just mastering the craft of writing. This webinar is about how to build the habits that will make you a writer, and help you fight the inevitable distractions of everyday life. There will be plenty of tips and tricks to help you beat writer’s block.

Note: Do read these testimonials from participants in earlier batches.

Fees: US$ 130.

Registration for the April 2024 cohort is now closed. Please fill up this form to express interest in future batches.