Article by Jayden Jones, Opinion Editor
In my short time as a Writing Center Consultant, the phrase I have heard more than any other is this:
“I’m just not good at writing.”
After extensive research, it appears that this phrase isn’t just common in the Aquinas College Writing Center, but in Writing Centers (and in universities) all over the world. Teachers, researchers, and academics have all noticed that the primary obstacle that students most commonly face during the writing process is the belief that they are not “good enough” to be writers.
Anne Elrod Whitney, a professor of education at Penn State, states that writing can be fear-inducing because to share our writing is to share ourselves, and any judgement of our writing is by extension, a judgement leveled upon ourselves. As a method of self-protection, many of us disassociate ourselves from the title of “writer.” If we present ourselves to be worse than we are, when we fail, when the unsatisfactory grade comes in or when the harsh critique is read, then it will not hurt as much as it would if we proclaimed ourselves to be excellent writers.
Hear me out: writing is actually a space for failure. Behind every published work you’ve ever read is a hundred revisions, a thousand tears, ten thousand doubts and a community of people dedicated to supporting the author. No one gets it right on the first try and no one is expected to. Moreover, if you begin the writing process expecting to produce more than one draft, it can relieve the pressure often caused by perfectionism. Or, if you produce a beautifully imperfect first draft of an emotionally raw piece that matters to you, keep it! Writing is not about being perfect, it’s about being real.
Hear me out one more time: the title of “writer” doesn’t mean what you think it does. When you picture a writer, maybe you picture Shakespeare, or the headshot of the author of the last book you read. But what would happen if you changed the definition of the word “writer” to include yourself? Do you write proofs for your math class? You’re a writer. Do you write lab reports? You’re a writer. Do you write long text messages late at night that hold the contents of your entire heart? You’re a writer. You’re a writer if you write emails, instagram captions, journal entries, essays (yes, even if you don’t like writing them), birthday cards, and grocery lists.
Face it, you’re a writer. Stop trying so hard to convince yourself you aren’t one.