A writer's sharing

Afifah Muhammad Jamal from Monash University Malaysia's School of Business takes writing units the School of Arts and Social Sciences offers as a minor and shares her thoughts on the discipline.

“I used to write to merely fill time.  Then I entered university and was confronted with a selection of elective subjects. Inevitable, I gravitated to those involving creative writing, not only because writing is a hobby, but also because I wanted subjects I thought would be effortless and fun to balance out the business subjects I was taking for my major.

“Over time, however, I learned that writing was not ‘easy’ in the least as its subjects both challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and added depths to what was once a shallow, stagnant style. Having been introduced to other genres and styles, I now have a different perspective of my own performance and a broader view of the possibilities and power of writing.

"Writing Techniques taught me genre-specific formal conventions that have undoubtedly transformed my view of not just creative writing, but also of myself as a writer.

“I now find myself increasingly adept at writing poetry as well, whether in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet or, closer to home, the pantoun.

“By venturing into once unfamiliar writing territory, I have learned to appreciate the importance of experimentation as a means of developing my own voice and unique style.

“Having taken a number of creative writing units up to this point, I realise I have been rather self-indulgent in my writing.

“Accordingly, I have learned I need to consider my readers. Acknowledging the importance of my readers has also taught me the value of their criticism, since feedback invariably helps me see things from their perspectives. This has further encouraged me to be culturally sensitive and politically correct and up-to-date with current political, economic and socio-cultural developments.

“In a way, writing feels more like a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement. American writer Annie Proulx once said, ‘Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.’ I could not have agreed more. Pursuing a Writing Minor has also encouraged me to both read better and be a better reader.

“I am also curious why some people consider the Arts as somehow lesser than, say, Science or Business Studies. Undertaking both, I can say they are incomparable because they are fundamentally different. However, this does not mean they can’t complement each other.

"Creative writing, for example, is applicable to a wide range of professions. In fact, studying creative writing at tertiary level has not only made me fall in love all over again with literature, but has also inspired me to rethink my future career choice to involve writing as a fundamental component.

“The Writing Minor at Monash University Malaysia is comprehensive and designed with students possibly looking to a writing career. The two first-year sequential units, for example, introduce students to issues of genre, forms and techniques in writing. Here, students are given the opportunity to learn about the craft and mechanics of writing employed in a range of published medium.

“Equal emphasis is also given to reading, especially in terms of developing interpretive skills and the ability to perform close reading of texts.

“Meanwhile, second and third-year subjects are more inclined towards experimentation and developing a job-ready portfolio respectively. Classes are more like workshops where students, under the guidance of a dedicated lecturer or tutor, are expected to share ideas and compositions and provide constructive comments and feedback in a mutually enriching environment.