Grammar Nazis, beware! This post is not meant for your criticism. There will be mistakes, there might be lots of mistakes, but this is coming from somebody who once failed in English in School. So cut some slack, shall you? (Did I get that right?)
Now on to the people who really care about this article. I am Prateek Shah, and I proudly was your mediocre student in School. I was so mediocre, that among other subjects, I used to flunk in English too. I just never got it. Never used to like to read. Never wrote. So how could I score? But here I am writing this article, without any external help, in trying to score some brownie points with you.
This is not an article to recommend 10 books you can read to get better at English, this is not even a guide to help you become a better marketer, this is just a summary of things I did to get me where I am. So without further adieu, let’s begin this alphabetical journey!
1. Prepared for MBA Entrance Exams
I never got through any entrance test, but the preparation gave me valuable lessons for life! I used to carry a dictionary around and used to look up the meaning of every word that I didn’t know the meaning to. That, and Wren and Martin. No, you don’t need to pick that up right now, but I am just saying these two things helped me get a stronger command over my vocabulary.
2. Started Reading Books
Alchemist was the first book I ever read. I probably don’t think as highly about it when I look back(even though I have immense respect for Paulo Coelho), but that book at that time was a treasure. It was a joy to ‘complete reading a book’, and thereafter I read more ‘shorter’ books, before going on to the Jeffrey Archers and other ‘fatter books’. The Harry Potter series remains one of my fondest, and I think even though one eventually reads books for the joy of reading them, they add a lot of value to you as an individual.
3. Started a Blog
No, not talking about this one. I started multiple blogs( i-dout, i-thnk and many more), mostly non-professional in nature, for the fun of it, just to express whatever I thought, and stupid funny things that my friends wouldn’t listen to. Writing is like painting, you don’t get it right the first time. But with each painting you draw, you see your flaws and try to correct them. You write better not with forced effort, but words subconsciously flow and turn thoughts into expression.
4. Started watching Sitcoms
Now I have got to be kidding right? What can Sitcoms have to do with expressing better? Everything I think. Just the same way as a kid one used to look forward to books with pictures in them, as an adult I was happy to learn English with visuals attached with it. No that doesn’t mean that I just used to watch TV Series’ for learning, but it helped. FRIENDS was (is and hope it will remain) my favourite, and I used to gobble up many other shows running on Star World or any other English entertainment channels that were around at that time.
5. Wrote a lot of EMails
I write so many emails, and make so many mistakes, that it has made me better with time. At one point I emailed a client and instead of using the word ‘Suggestion’, tried to act smart and used ‘Suggestive’, hoping it means things one has suggested. My CEO who was CCed on the mail got back to me with a hearty laugh, and that was one interesting lesson
6. Business Newspaper
I think Print Journalism is declining, but I love my copy of the newspaper every morning! It is only recently that I have subscribed to a copy of the Economic Times, and the crisp writing, and the interesting storylines are a treat to read. When you read crisp stuff, you start thinking crisply too.
7. Use of Free Tools
Beginning right from Microsoft Word, every free tool helps you write better. My favourite ones over the years have been WordWeb (that helps me find fancier alternatives to simpler words), Google Search (when in doubt over a phrase/word, just do a Google search with double quotes ” “), and off late Grammarly (Corrects spellings, prevents from making writing mistakes on the web among many other uses)
8. Carry on doing what I started doing
I still watch my sitcoms, write a lot of emails, read a lot of blogs/newspaper and just try and be around words to stay inspired and act upon it. The biggest problem of our lives is that we start doing a lot of things but don’t carry on what we started.
So I don’t know whether any of these even make sense to you, but even if one of them do, try it, it might change things for you