writing requires an unending effort at something resembling authenticity [Lynn Hunt, “How Writing Leads to Thinking”]

When I received the email congratulating me as one of the newest members to the Sweetland Minor in Writing program, I was ecstatic. I called my mom right away to tell her the good news. After dreaming with her about my future (hopefully something that will include writing the blog and social media posts for a Christian non-profit), I hung up. Cue instant dread. What if I just think I’m a good writer but I’m actually not? What if the professor reads my first assignment and says there has been a mistake and that my skills are not up to par? All thoughts not outside the realm of ridiculousness in that moment.

After making it through my first two classes without being dismissed, I can now say that my fears have (mostly) been calmed. In her essay, “How Writing Leads to Thinking,” Lynn Hunt says, “One is not born a writer, but rather becomes one,” and that “Writing requires and unending effort at something resembling authenticity.” I hope the Minor in Writing will be one of the greater steps in my life that cultivates my “good writer” becoming.

This brings me to some of my goals for the Minor in Writing. Lamott says, “You have to believe that clarity is coming, not all at once, and certainly not before you write, but eventually, if you work at it hard enough, it will come.” I can think of multiple times during my career as a student that I have attempted to force myself to conjure up brilliant thoughts. I think it has only worked once. The other times, I only succeeded in making myself more frustrated with the assignments. In the minor, I don’t want to submit assignments that I am unsatisfied with. I don’t want to force my brain to come up with thoughts I think are worthy of leaving it. I believe that I am well equipped to and will produce good writing if I put in good effort.

Another goal: write more. I love the Quick Fire challenges in class! (For those of you not in the Monday/Wednesday section of the cohort, Shelley gives us little writing challenges every class called Quick Fire challenges, inspired by Top Chef.) At first, I felt apprehensive about the idea. Would we be harshly graded on them? Would I be judged if I my mind suddenly went blank and I couldn’t come up with anything? But after the first couple classes and reading Lamott’s essay, I feel better. I have found truth in this quote: “You think something you did not know you could/would think and it leads you to another almost unbidden.” The more I write, the more I become comfortable with writing and the more I have begun to trust my brain.


Also, I love words. Here’s some new ones I learned thanks to this reading:

Solipsistic [adj.]: the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist

Ignominy [n.]: public shame or disgrace

One thought to “writing requires an unending effort at something resembling authenticity [Lynn Hunt, “How Writing Leads to Thinking”]”

  1. Hello Sophia, It’s interesting to see that we had such similar reactions towards the acceptance of the writing minor. I too felt that pang of dread. Isn’t it interesting to see how different from fear this feeling is? I mean it’s so different from, say a jump scare. Harmless and usually kind enough to give you a shot of adrenaline, fear of writing is nothing like that. It’s almost unfair in the sense that there IS danger in writing, and we don’t even get that added little boost. I think I’m rambling at this point…
    Anyway, I know what you mean, I’m on the same boat. I really liked that you decided to incorporate the words that you learned from the reading. It seems like a good habit to get into. It also made me laugh a bit that they were such negative words, and complimented the way that you described you felt towards writing. It was almost as if you learned these words specifically due to your inner dread. Hopefully this inner dread dies down as you get more comfortable with writing, because personally I thought your writing was rather good.

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