Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade {Coursera Course}

I’m a huge fan of knowledge and learning. I don’t place a huge emphasis on how you get that knowledge as long as you have it and can use it. The reason for this is two-fold. One is that there areĀ countless stories of geniuses and people that have made an impact that have taught themselves or learnt outside of your classroom environment. The other is that I’ve been to a “top ten” university, and I watched people party, drink, and sleep their way through learning nothing. They have a piece of paper, but their intelligence, wisdom, and skills have not grown at all during the process.

So, no, I do not place much emphasis on a piece of paper, but rather the ability to prove the knowledge. I say I can translate various sciences and break it down into manageable chunks for the discerning public. How can you know that? Do I have a degree stating it? (No.) Do I have years of community outreach and tutoring under the belt? (Yes.) I didn’t get a piece of paper, I proved it.

Now, however, I need to prove to my readers that I can write. To do this I’m not only going to keep doing what I’m doing for AAAS and SSSpace, but also with honing my writing skills as a writer via a Coursera course. This course, Crafting an Effective Writer, has been long touted by some of my colleagues as a good place to sharpen writing skills and refresh yourself on the basics that we so easily forget after years and years of writing. So, I decided to give it a try, work through everything, and get a shiny certificate while polishing my abilities. On top of it, I’ll give you my fair, honest assessment of the course at the end to tell you if it’s worth the time to take it.

In the meantime, though, one of the assignments is to keep a weekly journal. I’ll be keeping that here under the category “Coursera Writing Journal” and will have the tag “writing journal” attached to it as well. This is also my first, but unassigned entry for it. I’m going to consider this a journalistic writing assignment as well, so hopefully something more will come out of this than more structured prose.

One thing to note is that they ask for these assignments to be done in American English. That will be a bit difficult for me as, quite frankly, I can never be arsed to remember American turn of phrases. I can remember to change proper British spelling to American spelling — that’s no problem. I’m afraid that I can’t cover up my dry sarcasm and utter Britishness. Hopefully I remember things like a “rubber” is a condom in American English, where as it’s an eraser in British English. Such things like that could make an amusing mistake.