Do you identify as a writer? – Challenge Journal #2

I was motivated to reflect upon myself as a writer, an identity that I have struggled to come to terms with. While I have had the opportunity to develop my writing skills every year over my undergraduate career, it took me a long time to finally call myself a writer. When I look back at my Gateway project, I cannot possibly think of what caused me to choose the topic of love and flowers, and make a full-fledged project about it. Today, it sounds so abstract to me, and I believe that perhaps three years later, I might find my Capstone project weird. This fear has stuck with me but I cannot possibly hold onto it forever, right? If that would have been the case, I would have never finished my coursework or my Gateway project for that matter. 

It is very rare that I give credit to myself for writing a good piece, and I think that creditability increased a little bit last semester when I was enrolled in English 325: Art of the Essay. At first, I absolutely hated that class for I had no idea what we were even doing, how were the assignments graded, and why did we read the readings that we had to read as they were all so new to me. I was almost about to drop out of that course, but I stuck through, and after I turned in the first essay, I absolutely fell in love with the class. I understood that the professor’s teaching philosophy was not to tell, but rather showus how to write, tell, convey our stories with the audience out there. 

To be fair, this is when I truly recognized myself as a writer, and came to believe that I can at leastwrite, even though I am not sure if it is “good.” This course solidified my to-go writing advice: “show, don’t tell,” and this is what I faithfully abide my whenever I sit down to write. Last semester, truly, was a push outside of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed it so much. I recognized that there were tiny instances in my life that I had overlooked but were extremely influential in my personality, perspective, and purview of everything around me, and those built my confidence as a writer that I am today. 

With that, I am ready to challenge myself even more with the Capstone project and beyond, and enjoy the ride as it goes! 

Apoorvee Singhal

Hopeless romantic, fiction enthusiast, eternally loves coffee and (bougie) brunch

3 thoughts to “Do you identify as a writer? – Challenge Journal #2”

  1. Apoorvee,
    This post resonated with me! I still struggle to call myself a writer. As a child, I had no problem calling myself a writer or an author. I wrote all the time. But when I entered college that sort of went away… (maybe because I lost confidence when my advisor told me to take Writing 100 before taking 125? Who knows.) When I took gateway, at the end of the semester we all went around the table saying “I’m *insert name here*, and I’m a writer.” When it got to my turn, I stuttered and stumbled over the words “I’m a writer.” Also, like you I took Art of the Essay and at first wanted to drop the course but ended up growing as a writer!

    I think that part of not being sure about whether or not we are actual, real writers is that we haven’t developed and matured our writing habits. I hope that this semester helps us to do that as we work on our projects! Maybe as we start to develop our research, the actual writing, and revising of our projects, we will view ourselves as part of a larger community of writers. Personally, I am hoping that the writing habits and rituals I develop will stick with me and last post-graduation. I think that pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones will help with that as well. Is there a specific way you are going to push yourself out of your comfort zone? For me, one way is that a lot of my research is going to be through interviews and reviews. Normally, I only use already written sources. I am going to have to learn how to use these resources to the max instead of just skimming for what I want/need. Hope that helps!

    -Adele

  2. Apoorvee,

    I totally understand where you’re coming from! I have always considered myself a writer, but never specified if I was a good or bad one :p I also had Fritz Swanson for English 325, and his incredible storytelling was the epitome of the “Show, don’t tell” mantra that can be so captivating.

    From my Gateway (and like the Capstone, too) I recall having a terribly difficult time with picking an idea given a virtually non-existent prompt. It made me think, “Can I still be a writer if I can’t think of anything to write about?” I could certainly write with a prompt in front of me, but if I wasn’t devising around my own interests then it seemed incomplete. This thinking felt similar to your rationale. Maybe there isn’t necessarily a writing quality threshold that makes you a writer, but a sense of personal satisfaction or pride in a public piece that does. With that said, I think you are approaching your capstone with the best possible attitude, and something really great will come from that!

    -Ethan

  3. Hi Apoorvee,

    I think what you are discussing here is very relevant to many people in our position as capstone students. At what threshold (of ability, of productivity, of schooling, of formal recognition, etc.) do we get to claim the title as writer? I think it is helpful that you are able to recognize what gave you confidence, and going forward might be a useful strategy to employ when you are having a hard time trusting yourself and your abilities.

    I definitely think that a lot of this concern stems from a society with a preoccupation with qualification and labels. At an administrative level I think it makes sense–someone with a master’s degree is more likely to be qualified for a job than someone who did not complete high school. But this is rarely a hard and fast rule, and I don’t think it should be for writing/ writing identity. Because stratified qualifications tells us more about the willingness of an (employer/audience) to be open minded than it does to the skills of the applicant!

    Long winded way of saying that I think your fears are well felt by many of us, often driven by a desire for efficiency. I don’t know if there is every a way to know if you are “good” but I think the intrinsic value you are getting from the project will be a good start!

    Excited to see what you do! 🙂

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