“Your blogs could be of someone’s learning or comfort. Grab it or not, this golden opportunity, for you to learn and to share?”Pat Tsang
In our blog project, we champion the voices of many women who are currently residing in the UK, their thoughts, feelings, experiences and comments on their lives of language learning, experience, food, memories, journeys and belonging. In this article you will read the experiences of blogging from our core blogging collective, Veronica, Asmahan, Pat and Svetlana, as they offer advice and their opinions of learning English through writing creatively.
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Why do you write?
Starting to write is a process: it involves choosing a subject, deciding what you want to say, organising ideas and writing the first draft, and subsequent drafts, until you have the final product. The first article I wrote FOOD FOR THOUGHT BLOG | Improve Yourself by Learning English, by María- Verónica Paredes was a totally new experience for me. I had high and low expectations, self-doubts, and even questioned if the article would be useful and interesting for the readers. These are all normal feelings, and everything turned out fine in the end because I received so much positive feedback from readers. Verónica
Where there are blogs, there are readers. I believe everyone’s insights or experiences are unique and worth sharing. A friend told me that she felt less lonely after she read my blog which talking about the work life of Mancunians as she now realized there were people on the earth going to work earlier in the dawn than she did. Pat
I am a pen and paper person and I have always had a strong relationship with pen and book. Where I used to write for myself and not for others. Occasionally, I read what I wrote to see the maturity in my personality and thinking and I keep them as a personal archive in my bookshelf for my children and grandchildren. But unfortunately, I lost them during the war, it was my greatest loss. My pen was my soulmate, the voice of my feeling who express what is inside of me. My mother tongue is Arabic which helped me with good and strong expression as it is rich of vocabulary and phrases. Asmahan
I liked to write since I was a child. Firstly, I liked to read a lot and after I used to write short stories. I did well at school in literature lessons. I wasn’t very brave to send my stories somewhere. Once I send to the competition in the children magazine and it was published immediately. I remember that my grandmother wasn’t happy about my success and told me that the next is my cousin’s turn to send story for competition although no one of my cousins liked to write or read indeed. In fact, I think she loved her more than me that’s all. After that I never told to anyone about my writing. I still absolutely in love with books and here in London especially with children’s books for example “Little Robin’s Christmas”, “Six Dinner Sid” and many, many more…and it looks like that I have also started writing again. Svetlana
How or why did you start with Heart & Parcel’s blog writing project?
When I received an e-mail about opportunity to participate in “Heart & Parcel” project, I felt quite confident that I can do it. I felt like finally I can give something to others through my writing. It took a bit of time to decide about what to write. Although I was a bit worried about grammar mistakes, I still allowed the text to flow and tried not to think about it too much. I checked mistakes many times, however I had some and I was grateful when wonderful “Heart & Parcel” team members helped me to correct them. Svetlana
There are tons of on-line free resources for learning English, but not one of them could correct your grammar or give suggestions on how to use the right words. It is exactly what the “Food For Thought” – a blog writing programme for English learners manages to offer me. I treat it as a golden opportunity to improve my writing skill. Besides, I can share my stories about life in the UK with my friends in my hometown. Without this blog, I wouldn’t have a chance to express my emotions, which help me to settle in a strange place sooner and easier. Pat
So, I want to share my experience of blogging journey when I became part of heart and parcel. I did some workshop online what is better technically to write as well as some common saying phrases in the UK, quotes and grammar that support my writing. To be honest it was hard to choose what topic I should write about because in my mind there are a lot of topics such as my experiences, reflection on life. I started with what life has taught me because it is simple and easy to write about. Then I moved to my experiences with life for example “Love cures” and it has been successful and Alex (one of the blog volunteer teachers) who corrected said three time “I love it! I love it! I love it because it touches me” So I learned to write with feeling and honesty about what I believe. And then I moved to write about my culture and my professional background as an Obstetrician with a special topic which is “how Syrian welcome new-born baby.” Asmahan
Do you face any challenges when writing?
Improving myself by learning English is very important to me but it is a process that takes time. Sometimes it can be frustrating but ultimately very rewarding – especially for integration with friends and at work. We are not isolated or alone in this process, and I was hoping readers would find my article inspirational. Writing is a challenge but writing in another language has some advantages: you can learn vocabulary, synonyms, structure and organisation. Additionally, reading and writing is a lovely and natural combination. In the article FOOD FOR THOUGHT BLOG Why is Reading Important?, by María-Verónica Paredes I describe how reading is useful to learn English. If you take your time and you are patient you will see the Rewards. Verónica
When I have no idea what to write about but the deadline to submit a blog is approaching, I keep writing. This practice gives me momentum to move further. I don’t care much even if I only have some short sentences to begin with, I just let my hand and mind flow, then a blog could finally be evolved. Pat
One of my challenges was to find a proper time to sit down, think and write because for writing I need an inspiration. The text without the inspiration could be quite boring because when I write I add a piece of energy from my soul. In my opinion, the inspiration for every person comes differently. For me, it is more often when I am relaxed at home in a cozy atmosphere, sometimes it comes straight away everywhere, but sometimes no the inspiration at all. Before I write I clean my minds from every thought about daily tasks and think about ideas and how to put them together through writing. I add some notes time to time in my notebook and when I have time and the inspiration, I enjoy the process of writing then. Sveltana
As I said there were some difficulties and challenges during this journey, for example, I struggled to write in English, and found challenges choosing an attractive title. Moreover, when I wanted to translate my writing from Arabic to English, it was also so hard because sometimes I write expressions in Arabic that does not make sense in English. So, step by step it became easier. As well as I faced a problem with words limit as I had a lot of ideas that I couldn’t express. In addition, readers come from different regions of the world with different beliefs and cultures so it is difficult to create a balance to deliver your ideas so other readers can understand it. However, by the Heart & Parcel blog team, all those struggles became easy because they were cooperating and friendly to help. And the system of correction was so useful and well organised. Asmahan
What advice would you give to people wanting to start writing?
My advice for new writers is to just start writing. If you are unsure about your first draft, with support from the group your second draft will be much better and you will feel more confident. Other readers would have checked your draft blog and suggested some ideas to make it more accessible and meaningful. Remember, writing an article helps to express your feelings. It is how you look at something, it is personal, and people can choose to like it or not… it is your article after all!! Verónica
So, if you would like to write, but you are not sure I would highly suggest you try it out because only when you try you will understand if it is for you or not:
o Choose a topic you are comfortable with.
o Think about readers and how to keep their attention with: subheadings, photos, an intriguing quotation that could entices the viewer to read on.
o Think about that you can give for readers through your writing.
o Write about something you love, otherwise you will show no passion in your writing.
o And finally – Let the words to flow and enjoy the writing “journey”😊)!
I advise you to try and join us to write your own blog. Also, it is beneficial to set a specific time and place in your day for writing creatively. For me, the best place for my thoughts is quite and green place where the sun does not burn and be able to hear sounds of birds and next to me is my favourite cup of coffee and it is preferable if the yard in front of you is open. Step by step you will improve your English expression and it is a very enjoyable hobby and, in the future, you can create your personal website for your specific blog to make money. Do you know what is the item always in my purse? It is my pen because I believe that nation who respects the pen will rise even if they are in nothingness. Asmahan