Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

All creative pursuits have to maintain a balance between the practical aspects of earning a livelihood and the purely aesthetic process of creative satisfaction. Professional writing has escalated in demand over the years and companies are hiring writers to make their presence in the market, be it Web-based, Facebook, or Media handling. Writers sometimes have to submit up to five to six articles to show their mettle in this field. From the writer’s point of view, the deal has to go through to help him/her earn through writing.

On the other hand, organizations are looking for people who can fall in line with their objectives and a given agenda. In such a situation, writing assessments offer a range of topics to gauge the skill of the writer. In fact, the wider the range of topics covered, the better, one will be able to judge the skills. But before we look into the professional requirements we also need to look at the way the academics are groomed in this skill in their high school and college days.

As a teacher trainer specialized in teaching writing skills to students, I have a visiting card that reads- “The power to express oneself is perhaps one of the greatest gifts of humanity” The other very interesting aspect of teaching writing skills to senior secondary Science students is the laughs I get when I tell them they cannot mess around with what Newton thought and wrote almost four hundred years ago. But each writer or student learning to write has the freedom to express his point of view thereby asserting his or her individuality.

And herein lies the basis of my argument. Since each individual is different in his emotional and cultural makeup we cannot have a given rubric to assess their innermost feelings and ideas. We can have Doctors catering to a set standard of instructions and then change ever so slightly to the individual’s body constitution and body type. But what do we do about writing? Where do we take a student’s writing which scores a low F in the writing rubric but somehow tugs at our heartstrings?

Let us first try and understand how rubrics help the writer to stick to a decent grade average. Usually, rubrics focus on- focus, ideas, structure, point of view, sentence structure, and vocabulary. Writers or students are taught to stick to certain set standards that they have to maintain to be able to target the desired grade point average. The rubric also specifies how we can easily categorize a particular work in terms of expression of ideas, selection of examples, ability to convey a given idea with a sophisticated choice of words, etc.

But sometimes even after following all the rules prescribed for good writing, we find writing which seems picture-perfect and lacking in force and power. How do we assess such writing? One sure way of finding the worth of a piece of writing is –honesty. Even if the writing is not organized in a neat structure, even if the ideas do not gel well with the examples used; if one finds an honest attempt at delineating the topic, we can hope for a good account. What defines honesty? Isn’t it very vague? Well, it is. We can come close to finding this when we feel that the writer is expressing ideas closest to his/her heart. There is no fakeness.

Words are like mirrors. They reflect, wittingly or unwittingly, the thought processes of a person. Further, for any organization, it is imperative that the writer can believe in the policies and framework to protect the face of the company from the outside world. A certain transparency between the goals of the organization and the writer has to be created to be in a Win-Win situation. The writer may not come to terms with the nitty-gritty of the daily manufacturing and production units but he/she will have to ally himself/herself with the clear-cut direction of the company’s present policies and future business options. And for this to happen, the writing assessments have to offer a variety of topics to ensure that they can measure a writer’s skill using a lot of parameters.

What do I mean by the word –honest writing? Here is an excerpt.

He had set us five words to write as a spelling exercise. One of the words was "kettle". I had misspelled it. The teacher tried to prompt me with the point of his boot, but I would not be prompted. It was beyond me to see that he wanted me to copy the spelling from my neighbor’s slate, for I had thought that the teacher was there to supervise us against copying.

The above narrative is a very ordinary piece of writing as far as ideas, or organization is concerned, but it manages to drive home the point that the narrator could not cheat. This is an honest piece of writing because it comes from the heart and touches the reader’s heart. Is it important to know that this piece of writing comes from none other than Mahatma Gandhi?

That brings me to the next point and that is clarity. In today’s world any form of communication, written or spoken, has to be clear and concise. People do not have time to go through long winding sentences and jargon. They are in a hurry. Everyone wants things in a nutshell. So, the writer has to discipline himself and edit redundant words. Given a chance, the writer will let free vein to his expressions and someone has to rein in this unleashed creativity. Any writing assessment that states the matter clearly, precisely, and concisely will appeal to the modern reader.

One very important feature of good writing is the ability to balance the creative and critical aspects. Is the writer able to maintain a balance between his creative and critical sides? The critical side of the writer is instrumental in analyzing things and placing them in a proper perspective. The creative side of the writer can provide fresh garb for an otherwise old idea or even better, produce a totally new idea.

When to use which faculty is an important part of writing for organizations or outside agencies. Here, the writer may have to be guided and helped to crystallize his/ her thought processes. Sometimes, we may miss out on a great writer due to the short-sightedness of an editor.

Last but not the least, aspects related to sentence structure and grammar need to be correct as after all correct language means effective communication.

To conclude, I would like to say that assessments are a good way to gauge a writer’s skill provided they cover a wide range of topics and are able to keep in mind the vagrancies of individual behavior.

.    .    .