Manka’s writing tips
Entries for the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition close on 1st June.
If you’re struggling with your entry, help is here! 2018 Gold Award-winner Manka, 18, from Kenya shares her top tips for making your essay the best it can be:
There are four topics to choose from. What’s the best way to decide which one to write about?
Personally, I picked the question that I felt resonated well with me. I suggest going through each question and going for the one that feels most comfortable; the one which you are sure you actually have something to write about.
Do you have any tips to help you think around the topic you choose?
Think deeply about the story you are going to write. Do some research on the topic before you begin. Finally, when you are sure of your story, begin writing a draft. Make sure you don’t waiver off topic. Ask people that you trust to be honest with you to read through your work. If you are satisfied with your draft, then you can begin writing your story. If not, start again. You may find it difficult to follow through with a given topic once you have begun. If this happens and you have time, feel free to juggle through the other topics and finally pick the one that comes out strongly.
When it comes to writing, the aid given by peers, teachers and other adults is priceless.
Presentation is important – how can you ensure your writing is well presented?
Follow all the instructions given. If you’re uncertain about the meaning of a given format, look it up on the internet. Once you’ve written your piece, proofread it over and over again to ensure that you have used the correct format and adhered to the instructions.
How can entrants’ teachers, librarians or even friends help?
When it comes to writing, the aid given by peers, teachers and other adults is priceless. They can correct mistakes that easily slip past you. They can give unbiased opinions on what they feel about your story and advise you on how to perfectly compose it. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if needed. Make sure, however, that these people will give you honest sentiments and not sugar-coat their opinions as this will not help you in any way.
Turn your favourite author into your mentor, and learn from both their successes and their failures.
How do you think reading books can help?
Books are an important way to learn to write better. Through them you can learn various forms and styles that can elevate your skills. A good number of acclaimed writers today followed in the steps of famous authors that lived before them. You can therefore turn your favourite author into your mentor, and learn from both their successes and their failures.
What tips do you have for someone wanting to improve their writing skills generally?
Read, read, read lots of books. It’s not only entertaining but you will also learn a lot. Practice your writing frequently. You can do this by keeping a journal, a diary or even a blog where you present your thoughts. Don’t be discouraged if at times your work doesn’t feel as great as you want it to. Most people tend to be the hardest critics on themselves. If this happens, distract yourself from the writing, do something to keep yourself busy and try to lighten your mood. High chance when you return to it, you will be able to see minor or major mistakes in a more positive light and greatly improve the piece. Never force yourself to write if you’re not feeling up to it. Your emotions tend to be reflected in your work.
Embrace your uniqueness and let it shine through your work.
What’s your top tip for making sure your entry is as brilliant as it can possibly be?
Write from your heart. All of those things that you find difficult to express verbally or physically, channel them into your work. Dive into the world of your characters and breathe life into them. Remember to go over your work several times before submitting it.
Is there anything other advice you would like to share?
Sometimes you may read the work of other people your age and think, “I can’t live up to this!” or “I’m not this creative.” You should know that no individual can be the same as another, so you must embrace your uniqueness and let it shine through your work. Don’t compare yourself to another person for it can be seriously damaging. Believe in yourself and your endless potential!
Entries for the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition close on 1st June. Find out more about the competition and how to enter using the links below.