I wrote this essay for the “Why I Write” assignment during my first semester of junior year in Writing 220. The purpose of this essay was for me to express why I write. This was a very unique assignment that is different from most other essays I have written in that it was one of the first times I was asked to reflect on an internal and personal motivation that I have. It was also unique in the sense that it was writing about the act of writing, which was something that I had honestly never thought about deeply before. In writing this, I hoped to express my personality and show what writing means to me. I chose to share how I have a much easier time writing what I mean to say rather than saying it out loud. Since I am a more quiet and shy person, it is sometimes difficult for me to express my true feelings in spoken words. Through the act of writing more frequently throughout my college experience, I have found that words come much more easily to me when I write them on paper. The act of writing has allowed me to find my true voice. I believe that this message was executed well and I was able to use specific personal exampled to portray this message to my reader. This essay allowed me the opportunity to reflect on my own writing style and really begin to discover and develop my personal writing voice. I view this piece as a breakthrough in my writing since it made me more aware of my writing voice and forced me to use it to its greater potential.
Finding My Voice
I don’t think that I have ever gone a full twenty-four hours without writing something. Aside from eating and sleeping, there isn’t really much else that I can absolutely guarantee will be a part of any given day. I think of writing in the same category as eating and sleeping, it is a basic necessity of life.
Why do I write? I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that question before. Maybe it’s because most people don’t really think about why exactly they write very often. I have thought about how I write. I have thought about what kind of writing I like and dislike. But I have never taken to time to consider why. It is a much more difficult question that it sounds.
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking…What I want and what I fear.” This quote by Joan Didion resonated with me immediately when I read it. For me, writing is a tool. By writing, I am able to learn more about myself and about the world around me. Writing is my method of self-discovery.
Ever since I was little, most people that didn’t know me always thought that I was shy or quiet. Even today, I am still never considered the loudest or most outgoing person in the room. This is something that I have always struggled a lot with in school. I am never the first person to raise my hand or volunteer to speak up in class. When I was in fifth grade, my teacher, Mr.Digrandi, had us each keep a journal. Every day we would spend ten minutes of class time writing in our journal about anything we wanted, and at the end of each week Mr.Digrandi would read what we wrote. After the third or fourth week of school, Mr.Digrandi asked me to stay after class to speak with him about something. Naturally, I panicked, thinking I had done something wrong and would be forced to sit in the time-out chair in the corner of the classroom while the rest of my classmates pointed and laughed at me. Instead, however, Mr.Digrandi told me that he has been very impressed with my ideas from my journal entries and that he wishes I would speak up more in class so that the rest of the students would be able to hear some of them. “Let us hear your voice, Jordan!” he said. Hearing my teacher tell me that he liked the ideas that I had written in my journal came as a surprise to me. As I flipped back through my journal, I realized that I actually did have some interesting ideas in there. I remember feeling frustrated and confused about this because I was always able to come up with something to say during journal time when I picked up my pen, but when I was called on during class my mind would immediately go blank. Just as Didion says, it was as if I had no idea what I was thinking or feeling until I started writing. It seemed to be the act of writing itself that was drawing the thoughts and ideas out of my head and revealing my true voice on paper instead of out loud.
This was the first of many times that a teacher would pull me aside to tell me something along those same lines. I struggled with this issue all through elementary school, middle school, and even high school. It wasn’t until I reached my junior year of high school that what my teachers had been telling me all of those years finally got through to me. I was taking an American Government class in which I had to deliver a public speech as if I were a congresswoman. Since I do not particularly enjoy public speaking, I was very nervous about this. When it came time to deliver my speech, I was expecting to choke. However, I was very pleasantly surprised. I was able to speak loudly, fluidly, and without stammering. This is when it hit me; my problem wasn’t actually public speaking. The reason that I was able to deliver my speech effortlessly was because I was reading it off of the paper that I had written. I had taken a long time to plan out my thoughts, organize my ideas, and write a powerful and coherent speech. By using writing, I am able to articulate my ideas clearly and efficiently as opposed to when I attempt to speak out loud with no written preparation. This experience was a revelation for me. Just as Didion describes, I was able to completely conquer my fear of public speaking by using the power of writing to organize and work through my ideas. Through writing my thoughts out on paper, I was able to find the voice in my head and finally share it out loud with my classmates.
I have always found that I can express myself much more effectively through writing. For some reason, words seem to flow much more freely onto a piece of paper than they do out of my mouth. I often lose myself when speaking. I get flustered easily which causes me to stammer and lose my train of thought. Writing provides me with a level of confidence that I do not have while I am speaking out loud. This allows me to organize my ideas in ways that I would never be able to express verbally and construct a more effective argument. It also allows me to analyze the language that I use in order to ensure that the tone and flow are in synch. Writing facilitates the transferring of ideas and information in a tangible and confident manner.
Sometimes, I have absolutely no idea what I am trying to say when I speak out loud. I may know what I want to say but can’t seem to get my mouth to form the right words, or I might not understand the reasons behind why I am thinking or feeling something. But when I have a pen in my hand, all of my thoughts, ideas, and fears seem to fall into place with ease. Writing is like my secret weapon. Just as Joan Didion does, I write to find out what I am thinking or to understand why I am thinking it. I write to learn more about myself. I write to discover new truths about the world. I write because I am in control of what I write and what I tell you. I write because I enjoy the confidence I feel as my ideas spill out onto the page, whether it be in my elementary school journal or my high school government speech. But most importantly, I write to find my voice.