Challenges of a Clogged Brain

Why do I write? When this question was initially proposed to me, a number of ideas popped into my head, and I thought that a response would be fairly standard. However, as I thought more about the topic, I began struggling to personalize it. The majority of the ideas that I was generating seemed to be generic, and one’s that most anyone could apply to their own experiences.

As I spent more and more of my free time trying to truly understand this question, a show I had on in the background pointed me in a direction that I had not previously considered. Hank Moody is the main character in the Showtime drama, Californication. At the beginning of the series he is essentially portrayed as a highly gifted writer who is no longer doing what he loves because of life events irrelevant to my argument. However, one particularly striking quote really resonated with me, and occurred as Hank was describing what writing had become in the 21st century. “Instead of writing, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people at a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.”

I could not agree more with this quote, and this was the type of internal ruse that I was looking for to personalize my argument. However I was now facing the challenge of just how exactly I was going to incorporate this strong idea of what writing has become into the reasons that I write. This is a problem that I faced before when writing. I have a number of ideas that I think are strong, and possess some relation to the prompt assigned. However, it often takes me a considerable amount of time to be able to “connect the dots” into one cohesive argument that builds off of itself. I think that this might be one of the biggest reasons that blogging seems so foreign to me, as there is little time to organize and edit and rethink structural issues.

As far as working through these challenges, I will take the approach that I was raised by. Simply put, the more time you spend with anything, and the more repetitions that you go through, the more comfortable you will eventually become with it. In this specific assignment, I simply need to spend more time drawing different outlines, in hopes of finding the most effective way to structure the remainder of my paper. This method has rarely failed me in the past, and I am hoping that trend will forever continue.

The Freedom of Writing

Until recently, I did not like to write, nor truly understand the immense power that a well formed written piece can have on others. In high school I found writing mundane, and would have much rather verbally argued a point to prove myself. I think this displeasure arose out of the strict guidelines that teachers imposed on my writing. It is almost cliché, but students were encouraged to consistently write in the traditional five-paragraph essay format. I suppose this was because teachers often felt that with too much freedom, students writing would go awry and miss the bigger picture.

As I read Andrew Sullivan’s explanation of the wonders of blogging, much of his rationale deeply resonated with me. “Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive.” This is exactly the writing that had been suppressed in my past. Much the same as Sullivan felt free of the lengthy editorial and publishing process, I have realized that writing can be so much more than what I was previously “coached” to produce.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the desire to produce writing that is “alive” as Sullivan alludes to, I was initially struggling to see how this could be applied to other academic disciplines. This was especially true when I thought about the dry, data ridden world of scholarly literature in political science.

Enter P.J. O’Rourke, whose literature defies most all preconceived notions about the field of scholarly literature. His works undoubtedly attempt to accomplish a specific political purpose, one of the four motives for writing as argued by George Orwell. Orwell explained this as one’s “[d]esire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.” This is clearly the goal of any political writer, especially one like O’Rourke who writes for famed think-tanks across the nation. However he accomplishes this goal in a humorous, satirical manner, free of the dull language and style that permeates this field. It is not only entertaining to read this work, but also encouraging seeing that I can write in this manner as well, and still be able to achieve a serious, respected objective.

Essentially I write to accomplish the same things that are obvious to all: arguing a point, while expressing my perspective on a given subject. But, what I find most intriguing about writing is that I can write with whatever style and tone that I think is most appropriate, because after all, what I write is inherently mine.