I wrote this blog post because I was told to. But I also spent more time on it than on my Phys homework.

Why I write? The truth is, I don’t really “write”. Writing is, what I think, a passionate affair for the pros like Sullivan and Didion and Lamott;  they write because they need to relieve their minds of a whole lot of a genius in their head. I don’t feel that way. I write because I am given a prompt, a due date, and a grade. I write because I don’t want to be put on academic probation. I write because I don’t want to ever retake English 125. It didn’t use to be that way. In elementary school I would write masterpieces about a girl named Katrinka and her seven sisters, about a boy named Oliver and his beloved dog. I used to love it to love it. Now I have to do it. Now, there is an ulterior motive. A driving force. A grade and a red pen in someone else’s doctorate hands. So when this assignment was given, I couldn’t think of a reason. I still can’t. Besides the obnoxious, obvious, snarky one. I write because I am told to.

That reason, and not one I can write 800 words about (note 800, not 1200), is not good enough. However, even though I write because I’m told, I enjoy it. I like writing papers focused on one paragraph of a book. I like writing employee work manuals at my place of summer employment. I like writing this blog post. Even though I write because others tell me too, there is more than a grade at stake when I turn in a paper. I want to talk to the Sweetland folk, tell my friends about my argument, and leave my paper casually on the counter when I am home from break for my mom to “find” and read. I want to go over it with a pen and play with the words, and structure, and thesis. Personal investment reaches beyond the A or B or hopefully not C. There is still no reason to why I wrote a paper comparing myself to a beluga whale besides my English 325 teacher telling me too. But I did like doing it. I picked a writing minor because I enjoy English classes far more than Organic Chemistry and because I would rather write a paper then take a test. So that’s something.

Writing because I am told and writing because I want the grade are very “in the now” thoughts. The immediacy of my answer, “I write because I’m told,” is not thinking about my future. My career as a physical therapist. Writing well is not so important in the realm of strengthening injured elderly. But that’s just it. I want my writing, my instructions for how to do heel raises, different than the scribbles of the therapist next to me. I want clear and concise instructions, well-written brochures, and grammatically correct promotional materials with catchy alliterations. I will write them because I have to to be successful in my business and for my clients, but I will also write them well because I care about writing. And maybe that’s why I write. Because I care about writing, about good writing, and want to be able to add my name to a hypothetical list of “people who write good emails.”  I like the possibility of maybe being a “good” writer. I write because I want to say that I can.

*Note: suggestions would be much appreciated.

2 thoughts to “I wrote this blog post because I was told to. But I also spent more time on it than on my Phys homework.”

  1. Madelaine, I completely see the points you are making about writing for reasons “in the now.” At one time or another, we all write because we are told to write, write because we have to write, write for someone else’s judgment. But while writing for the grade, do you find yourself writing for the process? Writing for the journey it takes you on instead of the destination of a capital letter grade? Writing because you want to say that you can? I think you found your reason in your final sentence. Cheering for you!

  2. Madelaine- I feel the same way as you. Much of my writing experiences have also been because I was simply told I had to write and that I knew I was going to have a grade assignment. But I definitely like where you were going with this blog towards the end. Maybe there is a common theme or voice you find in all of your writing assignments for class? I can see a motivation behind why you like to write over take a test in another class like Organic Chemistry, so this could be a possible route to expand. But I also agree with Emily, in that you may have found part of your answer in wanting to write because you care about writing and want to be a good writer. Maybe there is a connection behind these two ideas as to why you write.

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