The “Eureka!” Experience: The Motivation for Writing


Think of Archimedes, who, as the story goes, was so delighted by something he had figured out while bathing that he leaped from his bathtub and ran naked through the streets of Athens, yelling, “Eureka!  Eureka!” (“I’ve found it!  I’ve found it!”)

Now think of those times you have seen or learned something that you could hardly wait to tell someone about.

That’s the proper motivation for writing an essay: the desire to share what you have discovered.

In other words, if you feel like running naked through the streets shouting about what you know or what you’ve found out, keep your clothes on and write an essay instead.

Unfortunately, that’s not why most people write essays. In fact, most essays are written for no better reason than that they are required.  I can’t imagine a more uninspiring reason for writing than that you have to produce an essay of such and such a length, on such and such a topic, on such and such a date.

                    Blecch!

 No wonder students hate to write, and no wonder we teachers hate to read most student writing.  It reads like homework.  It is homework.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  If a student is excited about his topic, if he genuinely feels that he has something to say that he wants other people to hear, then at least his essay will have the energy of discovery, no matter what flaws or errors might otherwise mar it.

Of course, most students have to write most of their essays in response to assigned topics that they are indifferent to or, even worse, that they don’t really understand.  So how can they get to the “Eureka!” experience by way of such assigned topics?

                Well, for starters they can change their attitude.

Too many students have no interest in learning much of anything.  All they want to know about is what concerns them, their narrow circle of friends, or the celebrities that are thrown up by our mindless pop culture.  These kids are bored with everything outside that limited, self-absorbed range, and they are, frankly, also incredibly boring.  They even bore themselves, which is why they can’t bear to be alone, and why they can’t even keep company with their (equally boring) friends without drugs, alcohol, or mind-blasting music to distract them from the suffocating dullness and aimlessness of their existence.

No subject, however fascinating, no manner of instruction, however engaging, will provoke in such students the excitement of discovery, the sheer joy of learning.  They are well-armored against any experience that might force them to direct their gaze away from themselves.

A bored and boring student will not feel enthusiastic about any topic, not even one he is permitted to choose himself.  He would even be too bored with the idea of choosing a topic.

On the other hand, one reason students end up so bored with the idea of learning, so self-absorbed that they cannot be intrigued by anything that isn’t about them, is that too many teachers have worked diligently to turn even the most interesting subjects into deadly bores.  Think of history.  Is anything more interesting?  And yet did you ever read a history textbook or take a history class in middle school or high school that wasn’t downright soporific? 

If a teacher is passionate about her subject, and if she has any talent for teaching, then she is likely to transmit at least some of her enthusiasm to at least some of her students.  And if she can get them excited about a subject, she can probably get them excited to write about that subject.

 Can the “Eureka!” experience be artificially induced? 

 Actually, yeah.  It’s all a matter of attitude–but in this case it’s the student’s attitude rather than the teacher’s that really counts. 

The awkward truth is that most teachers, both in high school and in college, are going to be dull, confusing, or both.  Students simply cannot count on the teacher to make a subject interesting.  But most subjects really are intrinsically interesting, and if the student can get past the spoiled-brat expectation that his teacher will entertain him, then he can find the interest in the subject.  The teacher really doesn’t matter all that much.  What does matter is how intensely the student engages the subject, with or without the teacher’s help–though obviously it’s great when the teacher is helpful.

If you are given a “boring” topic to write about in a “boring” course, then find some angle or aspect that is not boring, or at least one that is less boring.  Often what seems boring only seems so because you don’t know much about it.  The more you learn, the more interesting you will find most subjects to be–until at some point you will become so interested that you will want to tell someone about what you have learned.

 Voila!  The “Eureka!” experience.

The Eureka Expereince - SpicedupcrapEssays produced for no other reason than that they must be written and turned in on a certain day are always as deadly dull to read as they are to write.  Since you must write your required essays, the best way to approach such assignments is to try to actually learn something from them, something interesting enough to make you want to tell someone about it–if only to prevent yourself from running naked through the streets, shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!” 😀

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Amjad Islam Amjad – امجد اسلام امجد


     شمعِ غزل کی لو بن جائے ایسا مصرع ہو تو کہو

اک اک حرف میں سوچ کی خوشبو دل کا اجالا ہو تو کہو

امجد اسلام امجد –

When i reflect back, there was this one prose writer and poet who really inspired me. For many Pro Pakistanis it’s always been Allama Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Habib Jalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Mir Dard or Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. But for me it always has been and will be Amjad Islam Amjad.

Amjad born on August 4, 1944 turned into a well-known Urdu poet, drama writer and lyricist. Having written many books including poetry and prose; He received many awards for his literary work and Screenplay for TV. In which Pride of Performance and Sitara-e-Imtiaz are most eminent.

Jab bhe ik shaam yad ati hai,
Jesi dunya thehr se jaati hai.

Ik taraf dil hai, Ik taraf dunya,
Aur yeh scene kayenaati hai.

LAHORE: A survey carried out by the Gallup Pakistan on Wednesday found Amjad Islam Amjad the “most popular writer,” followed by the late Ashfaq Ahmed and Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi.

A nationally representative sample of men and women from across the four provinces was asked “Which of the following writers (of literature) do you like the most?”

Responding to this, 26 per cent named Amjad Islam Amjad as their favourite author, 13 per cent considered Ashfaq Ahmed as their most favourite, 13 per cent opted for Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, 11 per cent for Haseena Moeen and six per cent for Mustansar Hussain Tarar.

Eighteen per cent claimed that no one was their favourite author and one per cent cited other authors. However, 12 per cent did not give a view.

To read more from this category click : Literature

So, Who is your favorite writer or poet ? And why ?

Is it writing or just typing?


 I love to write. Writing is one of the great joys of my life. The problem is, though, that I love to write. Not to type. Not to keyboard. To write.

          I am one of those people (Oh, come on – I bet a lot of you do this, too) who go into stores just to pet the writing supplies. Do you remember how exciting it was when there was an explosion just a few years ago in types of ink pens? Up until Gelly Rolls came along, gel pens were balky, and their ink was not waterproof, whereas ballpoint pens just weren’t that exciting. So I did all my writing with a pencil.

          I even remember being excited when disposable mechanical pencils became a reasonable replacement for the #2 yellow pencil that had to be sharpened every five minutes, until it was a mere nub.

          But now there are hundreds of types of pens with different points and different inks–all waterproof, and in a dazzling array of colors. I think I own all of them!

          And paper. Oh, my! How interesting paper and notebooks are these days. So many colors, so many types of bindings. There are even dark and bright colored papers, that can only be written on with special milky or metallic pens. Who wouldn’t be inspired to write with such tools and such materials?

          I enjoyed writing when all I had to work with was that #2 pencil, a Bic ballpoint pen, and a stack of three-ring binder paper. Now, the paper and pens are so enticing that I can barely keep myself away from them. I want to write all the time.

          But I can’t.

          Over a month ago I began to have serious pain in my right thumb, and soon I was not even able to bend it. Every now and then I accidentally reach for something without remembering not to use my thumb. I believe they can hear my yelps of pain all the way into the next county.

          And now I miss writing the way I would miss my fragrant morning coffee if I were to give it up. (I am forbidden to drink coffee, but I haven’t managed to give it up yet. It’s my drug of choice.)

          The worst of it is, I’m not much good at composing while typing. I like to get physically into what I am writing, and composing at the keyboard is like trying to touch something through a window. It feels distant and unconnected. I can’t help thinking of what Truman Capote said about the way Jack Kerouac composed On the Road: “That’s not writing–that’s typing.

           Without the physicality of actually writing, I feel bereft. Oh, sure, I can compose and post articles, but it’s an empty exercise. I feel as if someone else is writing them in my name.

          Somehow I’m just not connected to them. =(