In one of my favorite books, C.S. Lewis says, “Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words.” I think this statement is true. When I feel that I have articulated myself well and said what I want to say, I am overwhelmed with satisfaction, however, for me, this satisfaction usually only comes after too many precious minutes spent stressing over word choice and grappling with language.
As it turns out, writing is not easy. I have often thought that it is one of those things like running. Like when you get better at running, you run longer distances and at a faster pace so that as you improve, the challenge of the task also increases. Writing is similar. I can write a killer grocery list. When I was in fourth grade, I wrote a horror story about the legend of the Chupacabra that my class talked about for weeks. I can’t do math to save anyone’s life, but one of the facets of my academic identity has always been that I write well.
I usually get funny looks when I tell people that I do think writing is important, but I also don’t enjoy it and I really don’t believe anyone else who says that they enjoy it. But how! I work at the writing center! I teach writing! I am going to graduate school for writing! Surely I must be exaggerating. Well, maybe I am exaggerating a little. But the truth is that it is difficult for me to like writing, because the endeavor almost always comes with a deadline, and there is nothing, I say there is nothing, more burdensome than writing with the pressure of a deadline. These things take time, and besides that, sometimes we just don’t know what to say.
So, Friend, I get it. I am right there with you. I, your writing consultant, do not like writing any more than you do. I don't like writing any more than a dentist likes getting a root canal. It is not easy. Sometimes it hurts. But it’s one of those things that we have to do if we want to be better.
And we do want to be better. That’s why we are here. I am here to say that even though writing is not easy, we students must embrace the challenge. The point is not to get a better job or make more money (though those might be residual effects), but to become a better learner and a more skilled communicator. Most of us will eventually complete our formal education, and I anticipate that at that point, we will truly begin to see the benefits of learning to write well. Even if I never write another word after graduation (unlikely), I still believe that, having labored so much over the keyboard, I can have confidence that I know what I think and am able to say it with clarity and boldness.