Photo vs Picture

First of all, I have to apologize to photographers for all the ignorance that I have about photography.
Another urgent issue came up and it should be dealt with now! That’s the degree of importance of yesterday’s counseling session with a student. 
He was wondering what prevents him from writing an essay that gives him a passing score. This exam is very special and highly competitive. (It should be best avoided to talk more about the exam because it may help identify the student. That is not my intention.)

I read through some of his writings, but I felt like I was looking at a photo. I got the impression that other people would (and can) write like this because it is only a description of what he (and the rest of us) sees. Isn’t it hard to justify your opinion by pointing out some of the phenomena that we see? After all, the raters cannot use such a liberal amount of time to enjoy what they already know. They can enjoy what they do not know yet; your opinion and how you have reached the opinion, that is. Therefore it was my job to give him a small piece of advice to change the way it looks.

I said, “Your writing looks like a photo. Maybe your rivals would write this way. Do you know how many rivals you are competing with? Yes, lots. OK. And there is nothing that reflects who you are. You will regret it if you are judged by something that does not represent you. 

“Instead,” I went on, “you will need to paint. It is always important to draw a picture of what you think you are seeing. Your perception is different from others’. And you must express your perception in your own skills and techniques. That way, your final product would be a picture that can communicate who you really are and what you really have in mind.”
Then I added many specific techniques to make it happen, but I will not share them here. Suffice it to say that in writing,too, your essay should be “picturesque.”

If you cannot remember

Many non-native speakers of English would be eager to keep a diary or write a blog post in English as often as possible, but when they sit at the desk and open their lap-top, they go through disappointment not to come up with a thing about which to write. So I imagine. Why? Because this is exactly how I’m feeling now.

I am not a blogger or anything, so I will not be in trouble if there is nothing to write, but now, I am feeling rather devastated because I DID have something in mind before I was ready to write. It was something like a TOEFL study tip or a test-taking strategy, but I forgot. All I know is that I had something to write about and that is why I am here typing.

As you get older, your ability to memorize or remember will be diminished (Can I generalize this idea? At least this is true of me). Memorize more English words? I always try, but I am not sure if my English vocabulary is getting larger or it just stays as is (I do hope it is not getting smaller, though).

To aid my brain, I bought two schedule books (appointment books) at the beginning of the year. I use one as a normal schedule book and the other to help my brain store memory. I write in the details of what should be happening for the day. I sometimes stop to write important ideas that come across so that I can reproduce them somewhere in the blog post or in class.

For now, it looks like the only one way available would be just to wait until it appears again. It is becoming my daily activity (inactivity?): just waiting.

Less effective, but readable…my favorite.

One of my favorite vocabulary-builders is Merriam-Webster’s. It is a green paper-back that has quite a few pages, but I cannot find a vocabulary-builder that is as readable as this one. It introduces each entry word with its roots and origins. Some entries contain Greek myths, and others tell us background stories. (I forgot details because I read the book as soon as it was piblished.)

Using a vocabulary-builder is a rather streamlined way of learning English, but as far as this book is concerned, it cannot meet your expectation. You will end up spending a lot longer time on the same one word than you would if you read a different, more efficient vocabulary-builder.

Again, as is often the case, there seems to be a trade-off. If you spend more time on one word, you will be able to understand the word more deeply, and thus the word will be better stored in your brain. The downside, however, is the number of words that can be learned that way.

Merriam-Webster, therefore, is not a strong recommendation for TOEFL learners, but when they have reached the required score, it should always be on the top of the list. I would say that it is the most luxurious pleasure to spend an unnecessarily long period of time on just one word!

Power of…

Habit-forming may be a key to success, especially if the habit that is formed is intrinsically good.

I have been proofreading the manuscript for the book (that’s coming up … soon, I hope), and it was thus that I did not post an article for the Japanese blog that I manage as often as I used to. It then started to pick up speed and this non-existence of the habit of posting a blog article has overwhelmed what little desire I still kept in mind that I was determined to post a blog article. At that moment, I felt numbed by it, didn’t feel tormented anymore by the guilt of not doing what I used to do very often, and now I find it pretty much a matter of course to do nothing about it. Even when I read other people’s blogs, which I often do, I don’t bother to remind myself of my own blog posts.

Scary, isn’t it?

What’s more, it requires a lot of energy and determination to start posting anew. You would have to wait for some time until you really feel itchy about it and have so much to write about in mind. The thing is that you may not have anything you want to write about if you haven’t posted so long.

That’s the power of not doing anything. There seems to be a technical term for this. What do you call a situation where once you stop a (good) habit for some reason, you feel as if you didn’t have that habit in the first place?