Afia Drah: Writing – The Art of Learning by Doing

Afia Drah is the Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing at The Trust Hospital.


Before delving into the intricacies of learning by doing, let me first of all express my utmost respect to all the professionals who have dedicated their time to creating valuable books, articles, and creative pieces on writing. This piece is not intended to undermine their work; rather, it seeks to emphasize a crucial aspect of learning by doing.

During a recent mentorship session with Amarachi Ndukwe, she inquired about the art of writing. Having observed her plan to learn the craft before starting the program, I offered a straightforward piece of advice: start writing. I firmly believe that reading numerous books and articles on writing can only take you so far if you don’t put pen to paper and practice the craft.

Drawing from my own experience, I can’t claim to be a top-notch writer, but I have authored of number of pieces ranging from speeches, scripts, creative works, to proposals. How did I achieve this? Through the writing.

In the early stages of my career as a Television Producer, I honed my writing skills in film school, mastering the art of crafting television, documentary, and feature scripts. The draft system we employed in film school was physically or mentally laborious . It requires a lot of effort and perseverance to complete one project, requiring us to produce up to 20 drafts for a mere 10-minute project. As much as I initially detested the repetitive process, I gradually realized that each iteration brought improvement. My 20th draft bore little resemblance to the mediocrity of my first attempt.

The lesson was clear: learning by doing is irreplaceable. Our generation may be drawn to quick fixes, but no book or shortcut can replace the value of hands-on experience.

Transitioning into Public Relations and Corporate Communications posed a new challenge – I had never written speeches or talking points before. However, through consistent effort and dedication, I have crafted countless speeches, creative pieces, proposals, and training materials over the past eight years. It wasn’t achieved merely by reading; practice was the catalyst for my growth.

Allow me to share a simple writing concept from my past – “myself.” Though it may seem like a basic exercise from primary school, it remains profoundly relevant. Writing about oneself provides a powerful opportunity for self-expression and self-discovery.

Undoubtedly, writing plays a vital role in the realm of communication. If you aspire to work in this field, I wholeheartedly advise you to immerse yourself in books to grasp the principles and basics from experienced professionals. But remember, true growth will only come from combining knowledge with action.

To any aspiring Public Relations practitioners, embracing the power of learning by doing in the art of writing is an indispensable step towards excellence in your field. Writing lies at the core of the communication function, and it is the conduit through which you will convey your messages, craft compelling speeches, and develop persuasive proposals.

Dread not the challenges that writing may present; instead, see them as stepping stones to your growth and success. By starting to write and immersing yourself in the practice, you will gain firsthand experience in tailoring messages for different audiences, honing your storytelling abilities, and refining your persuasive techniques.

Writing helps you to communicate with clarity, creativity, and authenticity, making your clients’ voices heard in a crowded and competitive landscape. As you immerse yourself in the world of writing, you will learn to adapt your style to various platforms, from social media posts to press releases, ensuring that your messages reach their intended targets effectively.

In the world of Public Relations, through writing, you will discover the power of words to evoke emotions, influence opinions, and create lasting impressions. By embracing the art of learning by doing, you will develop the confidence and competence to meet tight deadlines and deliver exceptional results, no matter the complexity of the project.

Start writing today, as it is through action that you will unlock the full potential of your writing abilities. Embrace the challenges, learn from every draft, and allow writing to be your constant teacher and guide on your journey to becoming a skilled and influential communicator.

As I conclude, I love the philosophy of Stephen R. Covey: “To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.” So, let us pick up our pens, unleash our creativity, and let writing be our teacher. Through action, we shall unlock the boundless potential of our words and ideas, leaving an indelible impact on the world of communication.


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