How Writing Leads to Thinking

Beginning a paragraph is like walking into a dark room to look for your glasses. You reach your arms out, and with a light touch, feel the surfaces around you. Although unsure of your directional progress, you know the only way to succeed is to keep trying. So you take a few steps forward, back, and sideways, get on your hands and knees, pause. However, if your glasses here represent clarity, there will be times when you don’t always find them. Perhaps you’ll see your darkroom differently—its cast shadows transform to landscapes and characters. Your end result was not what you imagined, or necessarily hoped for, but it’s an end result that changed your original perceptions nonetheless.

Writing is directional but non-linear. Ideas become words which inspire new ideas, and the cycle continues. In this semester course, and in the Writing Minor as a whole, I hope to exercise this cycle. I hope to cultivate my ideas, allowing them the freedom to grow and transform. With writing comes a great potential for discovery and surprise. This potential grows as it is supplemented with outside influences and peer feedback. The Sweetland minor will provide these essential components, which will challenge me as a creative and thoughtful inhabitant of our current world. My experience in the minor will also strengthen my mental relationship with writing and thinking.

I expect to build up my “writing stamina,” so to speak. I was taught how to run. I was taught how to write. There have been times when I’ve had to run a few miles here and there. I’ve had to write papers of multiple page lengths from time to time. But I’ve never been taught or obligated to go on a run every single day. If I had, maybe I’d be a marathon runner today. I’ve never been taught how to turn writing into an everyday habit. More than once or twice a week, I will journal about my thoughts or feelings of the day, I’ll tweet a fleeting thought, or jot down an overheard conversation on the bus. But I’m not sure that persistence and dedication is all it takes to develop and grow as a writer. Through the minor, I hope to equip myself with more tools, for both writing and thinking, that will help me get off the ground and will follow me for a lifetime.

4 thoughts to “How Writing Leads to Thinking”

  1. The comparison you make between starting to write and looking for your glasses in a dark room encompasses the feeling of slight panic and unsureness that writing can bring so well. It is so true. I dread this feeling when I know I am about to start writing a new piece. Hopefully this class will make it so that we do not dread this feeling anymore, but rather accept it and turn it into excitement and curiosity for what is to come. Maybe this will be one step towards increasing “writing stamina,” like you said. I agree that “persistence and dedication” may not be the only things that lead to great writing. I think it is a combination of skills and mindsets that allow for growth.

  2. I love the metaphor of glasses that you used. Your description of the writing process as a cycle is something that I too agree with wholeheartedly and hope to demonstrate throughout the Writing Minor. By working on our comfort levels with being unsure of our writing, we will hopefully be able to reach new ideas from a level of unconscious understanding. I personally think that a free form hand, one without judgement and criticism at the outset may be one of the most important contributing factors to great writing.

  3. Your opening analogy is super strong, but I have a question. You say that we don’t always find the glasses – or clarity – we are looking for, which is 100% true, but my deeper question is how do we know when we find it as a writer? The searching of the space in the dark while crawling around is a perfect comparison to writing, but does a writer ever find the glasses knowingly? How does he or she know? It may seem like a silly question, but part of writing is having the sense of yourself and the audience and that clarity can be hard to find.

    I really do enjoy your writing voice. It has a strong complexity of intellect and non-condescending superiority. I hope our blogs help build both of our “writing stamina” in pursuit of finding our glasses of clarity.

  4. Like it’s been said before, your beginning metaphor is really nicely comparing writing to being kind of blind. I think your hopes for the Minor in Writing are good, but they don’t feel like unique goals to the minor. You could wish the same things in any writing class, or any class in which you have to write, for that matter. It is a given that you will be able to flesh out your thoughts and ideas in the minor, but how do you hope to do it differently than before? What about the writing process in the minor will you try to make special or meaningful for yourself?

    The idea to work on your writing stamina is a really good one that is maybe more of what I meant by the paragraph above; it’s something you can work towards in the minor that is unique to the minor.

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