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English Composition, Lesson 03. Advantages of Expressing Ideas Gained from Experience

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Image of C.S. Lewis for the Classical Liberal Arts Academy's English Composition course.
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)


Young people sometimes find difficulty in writing because they “have nothing to say.” Such a reason will not hold in regard to ideas gained from experience. Every one has a multitude of experiences every day, and wishes to tell about some of them. Many of the things which happen to you or to your friends, especially some which occur outside of the regular routine of school work, are interesting and worth telling about. Thus experience furnishes an abundance of material suitable for composition purposes, and this material is of the best because the ideas are sure to be your own. The first requisite of successful composition is to have thoughts of your own. The expressing of ideas that are not your own is mere copy work, and seldom worth doing.

Ideas acquired through experience are not only interesting and your own, but they are likely to be clear and definite. You know what you do and what you see; or, if you do not, the effort to express your ideas so that they will be clear to others will make you observe closely for yourself.

Still another advantage comes from the fact that your experiences are not presented to you through the medium of language. When experience furnishes the ideas, you are left free to choose for yourself the words that best set forth what you wish to tell. The things of your experience are the things with which you are most familiar, and therefore the words that best apply to them are those which you most often use and whose meanings are best known to you.

Because experience supplies an abundance of interesting, clear, and definite ideas, which are your own and which may be expressed in familiar language, it furnishes better material for training in expression than does either imagination or reading.


  • English Composition, Lesson 03 Exam