Writing won’t kill you

Most college students think that writing is some kind of heinous crime that professors make them do as punishment. I can assure you that it is no such thing.

If anything, writing is the utmost freedom a student can be given in a college class, so, really, I am not quite sure where the protesting comes from. Many students say that writing is too hard for them or that they just plain hate it, but I think there is some misunderstanding going on here.

First off, I have a confession to make: For the longest time, I was one of those students who hated writing. It is a funny thing when you think about it, especially because I was a history major. Writing is really all you do as a history major, so some days I questioned the direction I was heading in school.

Then, in one of my classes, my professor made the following little comment to the class about our upcoming papers: “Have fun with it.” I never associated the word “writing” with the word “fun.” For me, writing was always a chore, but after that, something clicked.

Now, I have to say I love writing. It is really an enjoyable experience, except for those days when writer’s block sets in; however, those days are few and far between. I mean, I basically make a living off writing now by writing this weekly column, getting my master’s degree in professional writing and editing, and teaching writing at YSU.

In retrospect, it would make sense that I like it. However, the point here is not to talk about my discovery of the enjoyment of writing; instead, it is to debunk a few wide misconceptions about it.

Let’s start with students who say they can’t write, which is all too common a response. We all talk to communicate. Therefore, if you can talk, you can write.

Writing is just like talking on paper, but keep in mind that some conventions of speech do not translate into correct written English. So, really, if you can talk out your whole paper idea to yourself, you should have no problem writing that paper, albeit with some editing, of course.

I also hear students saying that they don’t need to know how to write for their major.

This one is definitely a special one and probably my favorite to hear, mainly because no matter what field you go into, knowing how to write is one of those skills that goes beyond job necessity. It is a necessity of life. OK, maybe you don’t need to know how to write a 10-page essay on Napoleon for your future career, but you should be able to craft a coherent and somewhat enjoyable piece of writing regardless of your job aspirations.

What’s part of the problem is that people view writing as very one-dimensional. They see it as purely an academic thing, when it is so much more than that. Song lyrics, movie scripts and books are all forms of writing. Granted, they’re not the exact type you would use for academic writing, but the same basic idea holds true.

It is all about being open-minded with your topic. Just write as if you are telling a story, make sure to spruce it up a bit here and there with some editing, and polish it up into a fine academic paper.