By Keturah Barchers
“I’m not a writer.” “I can’t write.” “I’m good at (blank), but not writing.” “I haven’t written in a long time.” “I can’t remember the last thing I wrote.”
These are the despairing thoughts held by individuals that worry they don’t have or can never learn to master the skill of writing. These voices encourage people to hang their head in shame and creep into one of MSU Denver’s Writing Center locations—knowing they are failures. This, however, is a lie.
There are several misnomers about writing and what makes a good writer, but only two are important for this post:
1) Writing always means compiling words for a paper, story, blog, poem
2) People who can write well don’t need help from others
When one thinks of writing as only a means of creating a long piece of work that is meant to have a deep, intellectual, or emotionally moving meaning, brainstorming gets stunted and writer’s block crashes in, and then depression and self-depreciation occurs. The truth is we all write and we do it every day. We write when we send a text about why we are running late. We write, and are forced to do it well, when we tweet about our political persuasions or struggles or joys. We add descriptions or sentences to our Facebook posts. We write emails and google searches. We write. All of us. When we aren’t writing, we’re reading, which gives our brain the ability to study writing and then implement the skill.
Writing is a language that doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We don’t lock it in a box to dust it off only when someone asks us to write an essay or something longer than two pages. Instead, we use it the moment we want to connect with someone who is not right in front of us. So why do we feel like we’ve failed or don’t understand how to write when a project is in front of us, and our thoughts aren’t coming out well? This question brings us to point two.
There is a rumor that a good writer is a solitary being who hermits in a closet and avoids all human contact. This is untrue. A first draft, or second, is usually written in solitude, but after that all good writers have someone to look over their work. Everyone needs help with their writing. Whether you are writing an important e-mail or you are writing the masterpiece that will define the 21st century, you will, and do, need other people’s eyes and voices to help you.
This doesn’t mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean your talent is less than the person looking at your work. All it means is that you are smart enough to know that brains are tricky rascals. They can insert things into sentences that aren’t there because they know what is supposed to be there. One of the ways to stop the brain from superimposing material that should be there but isn’t, is to have another brain’s critique.
When lies start whispering in your head remember that we all write and we all know how. Writing is like anything we do, whether it’s eating with utensils, riding a bike, video games, or math, it gets better the more we practice.