Writing to Understand


Reading the two essays titled, “Why I Write,” by George Orwell and Joan Didion, served as the catalyst for the self-realization I had about why I write.  They rightfully consider writing to be a selfish process, although I interpret this bold statement differently than Orwell and Didion.  Writing is inherently selfish because the author incorporates so much of their own personalities into their work.  Whether this inevitable integration of self is intentional or subconscious depends on the writer and how extroverted they are.    The concept of “selfish” writing helped me realize my own motives for choosing to be a writing minor.  Regardless of the subject, I constantly find myself writing things over and over again to understand them.  I would consider my learning style to be writing since I learn best while talking notes and writing information into my own words.

Similarly, writing allows me to learn about myself.  When I put my most complex emotions into words, I am able to express feelings I could never say out loud.  Perhaps I can fully express myself in writing because I find it very difficult to lie or describe things I don’t truly believe.  There’s something about seeing the words in front of me that make them more real than they’d be if I simply said them out loud.  Furthermore, I love reading the emotional writing of others, and I always attempt to achieve a level of pathos in my academic essays.   When writers appeal to the emotions of their audience, their pieces are more powerful and effective.

In my essay, I want to explore the deep introspective implications writing has on my own understanding of myself, while simultaneously creating an emotional reaction in my audience.  I hope to emulate Nicholas Kristof’s descriptive and blunt writing style.  I love his honesty and ability to make me picture the people and places he writes about.

3 thoughts to “Writing to Understand”

  1. Reading this with the context of your draft from Thursday in mind, I think you accomplished what you set out to do. Your writing was deeply personal and honest, which was something you mentioned you wanted to emulate. I think it was especially interesting what you wrote about authors incorporating so much of their own personalities into their work. This is very true and nearly unavoidable in writing. In class Thursday, you mentioned how much you learned about the people in our group just from reading our drafts. This is a really unique and unparalleled level of camaraderie that writing brings forth. That level of personal connection is rare in today’s world of computer screens and phone screens, so it’s really cool that that is something we will all get to share as writing minors!

  2. I totally understand how seeing words written can feel more “real.” I think it’s because you’re able to perfect the flow and word choice, making the sentences more effective and “intelligent.” I also agree that I am more truthful when I write. I really like that you wrote about that! I can be really shy aloud, but when writing, there’s no wall.

  3. I definitely agree with all that you said, especially when you said that through writing you learn more about yourself. There is something so (for lack of a better term) free about being able to spill your thoughts out and paper. Doing so not only allows you to truly understand the intentions behind your own thoughts, but also is what brings emotion and personality into writing.

    While I do love emotion-filled writing, there is a point where I think the emotion becomes over powering, and this tool that is meant to draw in an audience starts to alienate them. This, for me, is one of the questions I struggle with when I write…how much emotion is too much? I often find myself responding to this potential alienation by writing without emotion, which can be equally as alienating.

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