By Olansile Ajetunmobi Umar, Ibadan
I will not like to bombard us with definitions. I will only discuss the topic based on the little experience I have and I have had in writing. I want to follow this trend because I believe that’s the major way the topic can be treated. Scholarly Writing, a Jettisoned Heritage. In this context, I will say that a scholarly writing is that type of writing that has elements of scholarship. In another context, scholarly writings can strictly be academic writings where you write journal papers, presentation papers and theses.
However, we will contextually discuss scholarly writing here in terms of research papers, articles and probably speeches. The question one needs to ask now is : ARE PEOPLE STILL WRITING THE WAY THEY SHOULD? ARE PEOPLE REALLY COMMUNICATING TO OTHERS IN THEIR WRITE-UPS? OR DO THEY JUST WRITE FOR THEMSELVES? DO PEOPLE REALLY KNOW THE RATIO DECIDENDI FOR THEIR WRITING? The list goes on.
When we say scholarly writings are now being jettisoned, we say they are being abandoned, neglected or portrayed in a Tom, Dick and Harry way. Yes, we are right if we say most youths of today don’t write the way they are expected to. They don’t really capture or arrest the minds of their target or primary audience. They write as if someone forces them to. Writing is a profession. Writing is a craft. Writing is an art. Writing is also an expression. Writing is like a stethoscope which a man who is not trained in handling needs to learn how to handle it carefully.
Without much story and digression, why do people write the way they like? Why is scholarly writing no more a norm among undergraduate, postgraduate and even graduate students? The reasons for these are unending, but I will enumerate some, based on my experience.
One, youths see writing generally as tasking and difficult. Two, youths see writing as a reservoir of some selected few. Three, many of us see writing as waste of time and energy. Four, many of us write just for writing sake. That inner touch and cupid arrest are no more there. By His grace, I will briefly discuss these before my time lapses.
IS WRITING REALLY DIFFICULT? Yes, writing can be difficult, tasking and challenging, but you know what? When you summon courage and write virtually everyday or every week, one day, you will touch the sky and you will bring forth the galaxy of stars. Writing can be difficult because a good writer observes. A writer is always a psychologist who studies what goes on around him. In fact, most of my short articles originated from observations. You know some people don’t want to task their brains. When you observe, you query your brain in tandem with what you see around you. What I have observed is that articles and speeches that are products of current observations always get more audience readership. Writing can also be tasking because it involves researches and background checks. There are some writers who are known for inconsistencies in their presentations. If audience know you as such, your writing will lack general acceptability.
As a scholarly writer, you avoid fallacies of different types. You avoid ambiguity. You avoid plagiarised work-general, parch work and any form of plagiarism. You avoid being emotional with language use, etc. All these need research, research and research.
It should be stated that not all sources are good for researches. As a writer, your research sources must be reliable and representative. Avoid using some blogs, some websites and some social media posts as sources of research. Why? Many of these sources are subjective and ‘copy and paste’ dump sites. In journalism, we say : IF YOU ARE IN DOUBT, YOU CHECK.
Some people think writing is only meant for some guru. This is not really true. Professor Soola once said, ” You reach farther by leaning on other people’s shoulders.” Anybody has the potential of being a good writer. All you need do is to look at someone you want to be like in writing. Be ignited with his style, but stay glue to your own style. Be different. Don’t let people predict you in your writing. Be dynamic and be original. Write consistently. One day, you will reach the pinacle of your writing dream. Also, give life to your articles.
MANY WRITE FOR WRITING SAKE. Psychologically, anytime one is forced to do something, hardly will one get much satisfaction from such an act. The outcome will only be forceful compliance. A scholarly writer will not just write because he wants to win an award. He will not write because he wants to impress a girl he had been disturbing for a while. He will not write because he wants to blow unnecessary mouth tearing words. He will not write to impress. He knows that writing is to express and not to impress. He will never fumble in his preamble, body and conclusion. A scholarly writer knows the purpose of writing. Am I writing to convert my audience from an act? Am I writing to enlighten them? Am I writing to entertain them? Am I writing to explain something to them or Am I writing to call them to action? Am I trying to convince them, inspire them or let them see things the way I see? A writer who writes for writing sake alone can never put these in mind.
Also, for one not to be writing for writing sake, one understands the psychological, demographic, multicultural and prior knowledge of his audience. He understands their culture, norms and beliefs. He understands the use of language and diction. He shuns sexist, racist, religious dogmatic, profane and tribal languages or expressions.
In conclusion, a scholarly writer should always KISS. How will he KISS? He Keeps It(writing) Simple and Short. Brevity, Communication, Clarity, Coherence, Completeness and Good Grammar are the basic tools of WRITING TRADE.
I thank you for being with me.
Umar Ajetunmobi is a final year student of Communication and Language Arts, University of Ibadan.