Clear written communication is just one of many skills students can expect to learn in the Pre-Master of Digital Media (Pre-MDM) program at Centre for Digital Media. Lead instructor, Aida Osian, conducted an interview with two of the program’s current students, Bin Tong and Simran Sran, who began publishing their work on Medium this term. Both students leveraged the support of the Pre-MDM program to push themselves to step outside their comfort zone and to start writing for an online audience in their non-native language.
What was your experience writing on Medium in English? What made you decide to start?
BIN: As an ESL student from China, writing did not come easily at first. When I started to publish on Medium, I thought about ways of bringing more originality and usefulness to my target audience. Writing on a public platform is so different from other types of expression, and I am more motivated than ever to improve my language skills. My favourite topics revolve around observing the digital world.
SIMRAN: Coming from India, which is a multilingual and multicultural country, initially it was pretty hard for me to express my thoughts and write in a second language like English. But as they say, "the first step is always the hardest," and once you surpass that hurdle, it becomes super fun. Honestly, it was a transformational experience for me. I initially felt the pressure to post and I was petrified. I had millions of questions like “Have I structured my article well?” or “How will people perceive it?”. As I started getting appreciation, even a single clap made me feel a lot more uninhibited to write about the things I wanted. Moreover, the encouragement from our professor Aida and my curiosity in writing "opinion pieces" about Indian culture, food, tech, and the job industry gave me that initial push to publish on Medium. I had never focused on my writing mastery because of my busy schedule and the hustle and bustle of my daily life, but now I couldn't think of any better platform than Medium to express my thoughts and opinions.
What techniques are you learning in Pre-MDM to improve your writing? Which ones are your favourite and why?
BIN: One of the techniques I learnt from Pre-MDM that I found useful is building our own word maps. Vocabulary is always the key to write better, but how we master it differs from one person to another. I usually read a lot before writing, and it helps me establish my own technical terminology “data bank”.
SIMRAN: Ahh! This is going to be a long list. Before joining the pre-MDM program, I never dared to write a full article on my own because many things scared the hell out of me. This course gave me a helping hand in the form of courage and motivation, showed me how to improve my writing structure, how to infuse my personality into my writing, and made me realize that using correct punctuation goes a long way. Moreover, writing three articles per week (for class) gave me a hands-on experience of improving coherence and cohesion in complex sentences, choosing relevant vocabulary, and utilizing a wide grammatical range.
Do you have some words of advice for Pre-MDM students who are interested in writing for digital media?
BIN: For me, staying motivated is the key to continue writing. I tried to explore more industry-related topics by listening to podcasts, especially interviews with big names from Silicon Valley, who constantly bring new perspectives. After all, the world of digital media changes so fast that we always have something new to write about.
SIMRAN: Just write and be honest. Initially, your writing doesn’t have to be perfect and grammatically correct. Free-writing is a good way to start. Your first piece can be as challenging as you make it, but nothing can stop you from doing so if you are willing to break that block. Set your imagination free and let your creativity flow. Pen down every thought that comes to your mind. Edit it till it makes sense and satisfies your writing mind. Keep scribbling every idea until you make your way out of the block.
Can you give us some tips to fight writer’s block?
BIN: Every writer could struggle with producing new work now and then, and it is perfectly normal. If it happens, find your own way to relax, and take a look at other people’s work to see if they can get you inspired. Try to keep the information flowing, refresh your ideas a little bit, and you will thrive.
SIMRAN: Write down all the random, correlated, remotely related, nonsense kind of thoughts, until it starts making sense. Most importantly, read, as reading during a writer's block provides you with a repository of words and hooks to begin with. Furthermore, always write on your favourite topics and remind yourself that every writer is distinct in style. Always remember, comparing your writing with other masterpieces will only further increase your dissatisfaction with your writing. Hence, push yourself to achieve your own best instead of competing with others.
Want to learn more about the Pre-MDM program? Register for our free Pre-MDM Program webinar on January 13th!