Recently, there was almost an impromptu debate between myself and a colleague over the notion and merit of teaching students the writing styles of different types of paragraphs. In our program, there are a few types of paragraphs required to teach for students — “example”, “process”, “reason”, “persuasive”… etc.

My colleague had decided that it was useless to teach these types of writing because it was pointless and wasn’t really freeing to the student. I thought there was some truth in it because using some parallels from screenwriting, I believed that in the long run, students would benefit immensely when they got to the next level.

And here is where we divided in our own thoughts. The colleague thought because I was a native speaker so I could learn to change and adapt freely. Whereas the learner could be forced into a habit of writing in such a limiting way. I explained that all of us learned a similar way of writing when we were in elementary school to high school, following a strict format before having total control of how we formed and phrased our words.

Students needed to hone and focus on a particular intention. I am simply hoping that by having them focused with a particular intent on their writing, it could influence the purpose and goal they are achieving. It isn’t a strict style. It’s simply a restraint on them to aim for a particular result.

Of course, I didn’t get to finish the debate as we switched gears into another conversation when another teacher walked in, but the thought kept me intrigued.

I know writing a particular way seems so strange. Demanding the students to strictly write a topic sentence as a declarative sentence seems almost harsh. But, I need them to have those constraints and to respect the format of whatever I have told them to do. As long as they got the format down correctly — the aesthetic of the paragraph and even margins on the left, and remembering to indent — I’m was almost confident they were paying attention to the purpose of what I’m trying to get to do.

Concise and effective writing. Efficient enough to hit the required marks to serve the purpose of what they are trying to achieve. Yes, we don’t jump into a writing piece to say, “I’m going to make this a process paragraph!” or some shit. I understand that. I’m just letting them know that for now, they are going to have to write in this really constraining way so that it can allow their creativity to flow.

 

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Today marks the beginning of another NaNoWriMo month and what a good time to remind ourselves our own methods and techniques to get into that writing spirit. For me, here are some steps that I had followed in the past to finish a screenplay.

Since writing is an on-going process, here are some things I learned for myself during the process of writing that could help speed things up. I highly recommend keeping a writing journal of the process so you can also map out how things are going and when things are working well and when things are not. This could help speed up the next story in the future.

This could help speed up the next story in the future.

It’s nothing really groundbreaking but it’s vital to get some form of a road map of where you are heading.

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…will no longer be secrets.

Secrets are one part of the core that makes us tick and function in this world. We have them because they either affect us based on our idea whether or not society accepts us or not.

If your secret was about making love to a bicycle, then I’m sure it would be a curious thought to ever share that with anyone. What would they think? What would they say? Would they abandon the friendship because of that shared thought?

These are chances that most people are afraid to reveal. And for me, it wasn’t about that.

For me, it was three things really.

One was dark. One was disgusting. One was about social acceptance.

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“Meditation is not to get out of society, to escape from society, but to prepare for a reentry into society.” — Thich Nhat Hanh, from Being Peace.

The more mindful you become of your daily activities, no matter how mundane they are, you can start to feel more alive. The best way I can describe it is to compare it as a synchronization between the mind and the body. The control factor is always you the practitioner. And what you control is your breathing. There are probably hundreds of techniques you could employ and you wouldn’t be wrong in any way as long as you can benefit from it.

For myself, it’s as simple as reminding you that you are alive. Or a breaking down of techniques found in zen practices in the wonderful books of Thich Nhat Hanh.

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There and back again.

It looked simple. It sounded simple. All we had to do was pack enough into a green duffle bag for a weekend and hit the road on a yellow scooter that still rattled and rolled.

Bunny and I were on a journey of a 116 KM — we are doing the HCMC to VT via Bien Hoa loop. It was the most traditional way anyone would embark on a motorbike ride to the popular tourist destination. Normally, we would buy two tickets for a ride in one of those companies that run large vans back and forth from the two cities.

This time, however, was a change of pace and scenery.

An adventure was the name of the game.

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“The moment that you feel, just possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself…That is the moment, you might be starting to get it right.”

— Neil Gaiman

For those who are able to make a grand career writing about their travels and the things they eat – I’m envious of you. Wouldn’t that be a dream? Travel the world and taste the wonders and spent glorious amounts of time taking photos and making a living off that!

Maybe on my next travel, I’ll write about my own views of how I am able to survive and spend the days across the city. To be honest, I’m not sure if you would get much out of my own travel writing but the hope of sheer insight and entertainment and amusement. That’s the only hope one would hope for.

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Instant gratification. The modernization of how we view and consume media. The ultra portability of our smartphones and tablets and Chromebooks, show us that our future lies deeply connected to the online world and no longer hardwired to a local drive. We have, and myself included, accepted the death of the big screen story.

Yeah, it’s true. I no longer find myself eager enough to watch the latest and greatest films in the cinema because they aren’t worth the time or effort. It’s not only the lack of innovative creators (aside from the few) but the way they are marketed and how much is known about them. There are a few films that remain strong in their beliefs, but they can afford to do that because they almost have a guaranteed fanbase to thrive upon.

We’re all looking at you, Disney, you clever mouse, you.

For the little guy, the small branded filmmakers, we cannot win over the masses and sometimes need to do some underground marketing that takes a lot of effort and time to execute. And this is where they put together some shit ass trailers.

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