Who We Are as Writers

Going about the repurposing project has been daunting, and every time I come up with an answer to a question, it only seems to raise even more questions. The most difficult question of all lies in choosing an audience, because in doing so, we must also decide what we want our piece to make the audience¬†do. It isn’t enough to simply entertain, we also must make a convincing argument. In thinking about what we want to inspire, we must also think about how we want to be presented as writers. This is a difficult question to answer, and one that I think causes me many issues when I do try and write.

I want to be so many things when I write: I want to be smart, funny, sarcastic but serious, cynical to a point, but not quite depressing, honest but not brutally so, and of course I want to be original. My problem arises when I try to be all of these things at once. I find myself picking apart everything I say, thinking, “oh, that’s too cheesy,” or “I don’t think everyone will get that reference,” and so I pull things out and put in things that seem safer to me. ¬†Putting in the “safe” options kills almost any chance I may have had at achieving my goal of being funny or honest. I’m not quite sure how to achieve these goals, though, or if it’s really even possible. Many times I will set out with an idea for a paper, and I’ll attempt to be funny by throwing in a joke. Maybe I’ll let the joke sit in my paper until the very end revision, because I thought it was pretty funny, but in the end, I will inevitably decide that the joke is not funny, and cut it out right before I turn it in.

Every time I have that “light bulb” moment, I want to rush to write down my ideas. I tell myself, “this is going to be the best paper in the history of papers!” And typically I start off very strong. I start to lose momentum around the middle of the assignment, when self-doubt sinks in. I reread what I’ve completed and think it isn’t smart, it sounds like I’m making things up. It isn’t funny, just sad. It’s too sarcastic, bordering disrespectful. And since it is too sarcastic, it ends up sounding uncaring. I cut the first paragraph and rewrite it. The second soon follows, and so on. The process ends with my shining diamond of an essay coming out as a lump of coal. The disappointment is similar to finding that same lump of coal in my stocking on Christmas morning.

I am slowly realizing that my writing doesn’t have to be all of those things at once. There are times when it can be humorous, and other times when it can be serious. Just because one of my pieces of writing is academic and intelligent sounding doesn’t mean that the next can’t be whimsical and fun. When I think about how I want to be presented as a writer, the last thing that crosses my mind is “I want to be safe and boring but meet all of the requirements.” What I really want is for people to get my personality from my writing. I want to quit cutting out the things that make my writing unique in favor of those that make it mundane and predictable.

The key is to kill the self-doubting voice in my head that says my writing isn’t good enough.

One thought to “Who We Are as Writers”

  1. You seem to have so much clarity (which is awesome). I think it takes a lot of courage to admit we’re doing something unproductive, and try to actively change it. But I can totally resonate when you speak about trying to be all of these things at once. It can be so alarming and discouraging! It’s like we’re trying to stay true to ourselves and writing style, but we also have to be all of these things, in order for others to enjoy our work. It’s kind of similar to life in a way. Personally, I find it so hard to strike the perfect balance between sticking to your gut, but also altering yourself based on the certain community you’re in at the moment (i.e. with your family, with your friends, in the classroom, or at work). I guess it’s important to just remind ourselves of our values and beliefs, and let the other stuff just play out.

    That voice can be so daunting (and I feel that sometimes, it just doesn’t go away)! You say that you’re realizing that you don’t have to be all of these qualities at once, which I do agree with, but I also think it’s important to note that you can be, too. Yes, it’s important to keep a steady tone throughout the piece. But I think there’s a way to talk about something serious, yet add humor to it. I guess it depends on the situation. It’s so hard not having a clear cut answer to all of these questions! Writing must really be on a case-by-case basis, and our words and tone probably just reflect the mood we are in at that moment.

    Thanks for sharing!

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