Tom’s Writing Tips

Dr Thomas (Tom) Robertson is a historian and the former director of Fulbright Nepal/USEF. He researches the history of development and environmental change in Nepal. Before working for Fulbright, he taught American and global history for 10 years at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Williams College. Recent publications include “DDT and the Cold War: American Social and Environmental Engineering in the Rapti Valley (Chitwan) of Nepal,” Journal of American History (March 2018); “Kathmandu’s ‘Flash Floods’ Are 4 Decades in the Making.” Nepali Times, July 31, 2021; “The Insect that Changed Nepal's History,” Nepali Times, March 28, 2018; “Particulates, Kathmandu's Silent Killer, Explained," The Record, March 30, 2021; and “Smallpox, Politics, and Power in Kathmandu,” Nepali Times, May 2, 2020.

Overall Introduction: Why Writing Tips?
Among the most important skills that I have learned from my favorite professors in college and graduate school are good writing skills. I use these skills every day and teach them in every course I teach. Good writing skills – how to write clearly and convincingly – are different from good English language skills. They are taught in high schools, colleges, and universities around the world. Unfortunately, most Nepali schools emphasize English skills and grammar but don’t teach writing. When during Covid 19 lockdown some Nepali professional friends asked me to teach a writing workshop, I realized how few resources existed for Nepalis who wanted to improve their writing. So I created (i) the Mitho Lekhai video series on Youtube and (ii) the Writing Journeys essay series. Many junior and senior scholars and professionals have found these videos and essays interesting and helpful.

i) Mitho Lekhai Video Series (मीठो लेखाइ)

i) Mitho Lekhai Video Series (मीठो लेखाइ)

“Mitho Lekhai” is a collection of my favorite writing tips – and tips from my favorite professors – in videos on Youtube. The videos are in Nepali with English examples. I cover important topics from paragraphs to quotations. For each subject, there is a short version (10-20 min) and a long version (about 1 hour). 

Level: high school to grad school to professional.
•    Pro Presentations (Full Length)
•    Pro Presentations (Short) 
•    Easy Excellent Essays (Full Length) 
•    Easy Excellent Essays (Short) 
•    Paragraphs and the Paagal Professor (Full) 
•    Paragraphs (Short, 12 min) 
•    The Paagal Professor's Powerful Paragraphs (15 min)
•    Juicy Wild Dogs: What Makes This Short Article So Good? (Full Length)
•    Juicy Wild Dogs: What Makes This Short Article So Good? (Short)
•    Vigorous Verbs (Full, 58 min) 
•    Vigorous Verbs (Short Version) 
•    8 Favorite Sentences (28 min) 
•    Super Sentences (Full, 56 min) 
•    Super Sentences (Short, 24 min) 
•    Quality Quotations (30 min)
•    Terrific Transitions and Superduper Signposting 

मीठो लेखाइ भिडियोको बारेमा अन्तर्वार्ता

For an example of an essay showing Tom’s favorite tips in action, see Tom Robertson, "Writing Strategies in ActionThe Record, January 5, 2022.

For more on the importance of writing in colleges and universities, see Thomas (Tom) Robertson, “The Right Stuff,” The Kathmandu Post, January 27, 2019.

ii) Writing Journeys Essay Series

ii) Writing Journeys Essay Series

Writing Journeys is a series of short articles by Nepali (and a few Bideshi) authors about how they learned to write nonfiction and about their favorite writing tips. They write about their school days and current writing practices, their fears and their frustrations. They write about favorite teachers and what writing means to them. They show that good writing is about so much more than good Nepali or English skills. They share little strategies with big impact – such as active voice – but also ideas about researching and drafting. After reading these essays, you will not approach putting words on the page the same ever again. Happy journeys!

Writing Journeys – Nepali Writers (And a few Bideshis) Reflect on Nonfiction Storytelling
Shradha Ghale: ‘I’m still learning to write, I guess the process never ends’ 
Kunda Dixit: ‘The more complicated the subject, the simpler your language should be’
Niranjan Kunwar: ‘Even if words don’t come easily, I keep at it, trusting the process, 
Kesang Tseten: ‘I like the process of discovery’
Sujeev Shakya: 'Shakespeare can be found in the fields of the Himalayan hills'
Thomas Robertson: 'Four ways to practice writing during lockdown'
Kalpana Jha: ‘Writing provides a voice to my feelings, and adds value to my struggles’
Janak Raj Sapkota: ‘Ordinary people have extraordinary experiences’
Dipak Gyawali: ‘The hours moved like lazy cattle across a landscape’
Manjushree Thapa: ‘It never gets easier, but I love writing’
Thomas Robertson: 'Blame the system, not yourself'
Chandrakishore: ‘A good story must have multiple perspectives' 
Sanjay Upadhya:  ‘Question your assumptions, play the devil’s advocate’ 
Amish Mulmi: ‘Come rain or shine, I sat at my desk’
Sarita Pariyar: ‘Who is going to tell our stories?’
Thomas Robertson: 'Less is more. Three blunders and one advanced tip'
Chaitanya Mishra: ‘I enjoy seeking to answer the question ‘Why?’’
Dev Datta Joshi: ‘Effective writing plays a vital role in changing society’ 
Anagha Neelakantan: ‘Write because it makes you think or feel’
Dhirendra Nalbo: ‘We can all be thinkers and writers’
Thomas Robertson: 'Excellent essays and outstanding op-eds'
Rajendra Maharjan: 'Changing the world with words'
Akhilesh Upadhyay:  ‘Reading gives us insight; writing makes us precise’
Richa Bhattarai: 'A day that I do not write is a day wasted'
Mukta Singh Tamang: ‘Writing to power requires reading against the grain’
Thomas Robertson: 'Superduper handy dandy easypeasy sentences' 
Thomas Robertson: 'Tom’s eight favorite sentence structures'
Sonia Awale: ‘Writers and journalists must be patient’
Tenzin Dickie: ‘Writing is how I make sense of my world’
Sahina Shrestha: ‘I like exploring different forms of storytelling’
Ajaya Dixit: ‘Water is about people, politics, and power’
Thomas Robertson: 'Writing strategies in action'
Indu Tharu: 'Whatever I want to write about has to touch my soul'
Thomas Robertson: 'Tom's top tips for tip-top English'
Sanjib Chaudhary: ‘Unearthing unknown details motivates me to write’
Raju Syangton: ‘I look for stories about the downtrodden, crushed by power, strength, and structures’
Laxman Gnawali: ‘Students need good models of writing to learn from’
Thomas Robertson: ‘The easiest way to improve your writing quickly: fix your verbs’
Sabin Ninglekhu: ‘Validation is to be found in the struggle within’
Ujjwal Prasai: ‘Don’t just read what is popular’
Prashanta Khanal: ‘Cooking nurtures your body, writing nurtures your mind’ 
Kunsaang: ‘I need to write, even just to prevent our stories from getting lost’
Buddhisagar:  'If I hadn't written Karnali Blues, I wouldn't be who I am today'
Ramesh Shrestha: ‘English from all over the world is now highly acceptable’
Subhash Nepali: ‘Writing helps heal the trauma of caste-based violence’