What Good Is Writing Anyway? by John Kennedy

Posted on April 7th, 2010 by

Throughout high school I hated writing (weird coming from a writing tutor, huh?). I thought there was no point to writing. I mean, who needs to write when one can simply say what they think? In high school I avoided all upper level English and composition classes at all costs, and figured I could simply avoid writing in college as well. But boy, was I wrong. Every class in nearly every discipline seemed to require at least one paper over the semester. During my first year at college, I was forced to write, but not because I saw any value in it. To me, writing was simply an obstacle in the way of a good grade.
As my freshman and sophomore years progressed I slowly learned how to write effectively. Although I initially learned to write so I could earn good grades, I began to realize that writing has enormous value. First, writing is an essential form of communication in nearly every discipline. I do not know whether I was naïve or mislead, but in high school I thought writing was only important for those who wanted to be English majors in college, the ones who wanted to write books or were crazy enough to think that writing was actually fun. In college, I soon learned that writing was important in the sciences (as I am a science major). Proposals need to be written to obtain funding for a research project and research papers are needed to explain a one’s findings. Likewise, writing is a critical form of communication in the social sciences, the many disciplines within the humanities, and in nearly every professional occupation, such as medicine, law, and education. So, no matter where you end up in your career (especially if you intend to go to graduate or a professional school) you will need to know how to write effectively.
Secondly, writing is the primary means used to demonstrate to employers and admission committees of schools or various other internships/programs that you are a strong, competitive applicant for a position. A cover letter or personal statement is one of the first pieces submitted in the application process. Initially, it is the only way to demonstrate what kind of person you are, and to show how your list of experiences and skills relate to the position you are applying for and why those experiences and skills make you a good candidate. Someone could be the best candidate for a position, but if that person cannot express that on paper it is unlikely that person will be considered for an interview or offered a position.
Learning to be a good writer has many practical purposes such as helping one obtain a job or become admitted to schools and programs. However, I have also found that writing can help a person view the world in a more complex way. Whether considering a social issue, ethical problem, or scientific question, movement towards a solution is rarely simple, or “black and white.” It is really easy to quickly form an opinion in your mind about something you have heard or read and not deeply evaluate your view for support. However, writing really drives you to evaluate your opinions on a subject. When an argument is physically written on paper, the writing process forces you to slow down and really consider your opinion on a different level. Often, when I began to write about a particular topic, I realize that my original conclusion I had developed was over-simplistic and that the topic was much more complex.
I could go on and on about the benefits of writing, but I would create one massive blog! I guess my main message is to those of you who see writing as I once did while I was in high school. Writing may appear to seem pointless at times and becoming a good writer may not seem worth the effort, but believe me its not. Learning to write is difficult, and even when you become a more effective writer it can still be an extremely frustrating process. That’s okay, it is supposed to be. If writing were easy, it would not produce the same benefits. Writing would not slow you down, and would fail to compel you to truly evaluate your opinion or consider why you want a particular job. Do not be afraid of writing’s challenges, because like many things in life, good things do not come easy. Stick with it, and writing will benefit somehow, and you may find that writing can actually be enjoyable.


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