Writing is not what I always thought it was.
In elementary school, writing was a job to do. It meant learning how to spell or properly punctuate and then getting graded on such.
Then in middle school came paragraph writing, and more specifically, writing assignments on BOOKS we were supposed to read (“supposed to” being the operative term- thanks SparkNotes!).
By high school, I had firmly supplanted myself in the “I prefer math” camp and avoided any elective classes that even seemed like they may involve creative thinking or longform writing.
Between my distaste for reading and writing and my aptitude for math and science, it only made sense to explore colleges with solid engineering programs. Eventually, I ended up as a civil engineering major at the University of Maryland, College Park, where, you guessed it, I took the minimum required writing courses and otherwise focused on math and physics.
It wasn’t that I was bad at writing; I was actually pretty good at it. I understood the form it was supposed to take, knew how to compile relevant research, and learned over the years how to effectively respond to a specific prompt. Yet, I still never felt as accomplished when I wrote as I did when I solved a complicated calculus or differential equations problem. In other words, it bothered me that there wasn’t a “right” answer.
Fast forward five and a half years to present day.
My younger self wouldn’t believe it, but writing is one of my growing passions and helps me achieve fulfillment on an almost daily basis.
The fact that there is no “right” answer is actually what makes it so enjoyable. It’s a form of expression.
Further, writing is ultimately communication; and not just communication with others, but also communication with yourself. There’s something powerful about taking the thoughts in your head and converting them into words on paper. It makes those thoughts much more tangible. You have to toil away to clarify them and turn them into a coherent whole. They’re no longer just an idea. Now they’re fleshed out and expressed. Once you do that, they mean more and it’s easier to act on them.
Traditionally, I think most people think of writing in the official sense, i.e. taking the form of an essay or technical paper, but that definition is too narrow. Writing is many things.
I write every day for LinkedIn, which leads to reading the work of others, and then meeting so many great people as a result. I also write in a journal whenever I am feeling strong shifts of emotion in order to track how and why those shifts happen. And maybe most importantly, I have started writing down my goals, because again, that makes them real, and now I can hold myself accountable to them. Even this blog is me using writing as a form of therapy to express my ideas and opinions.
So, if I could give you any advice, it would be to change your definition of writing. Don’t view it as a rigid thing that you have to do for work while writing emails. View it as an opportunity to collaborate with people; view it as a means of expression; view it as a way of communicating with yourself that leads to much better results; view it as a gift.
Start small and see what it does for you. That’s all I’m doing.
Maybe I’ll even write a book someday.
4 January 2022
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