Think Outside the Academic Box
Writing. It comes with such negative connotations. We automatically think academic, boring, long, research intensive, etc. We think of essays, online responses, word counts and page limits. But what about all of the writing we do outside of class? Do you text your friends? Spend a few minutes perfecting the caption for your Instagram picture? Create a witty tweet or Facebook status? Write notes on your dorm room’s whiteboards? That is all writing. Writing is so much more than bs-ing your way through a paper for your English class about the book you sort of read.
In high school, I dreaded research papers. I hated them. I got tired of the same “write a paper about this important book in literature with an intro, body paragraphs with quotes and support, and a conclusion.” It didn’t feel like writing, it was muscle memory. It became a chore. But once I got to college, I got the pleasure of working with teachers and professors who encouraged unconventional writing. They encouraged me to stray away from the classic five paragraph essay and to write what I wanted to write about, rather than being told what I was required to write about. Once you have the freedom to write about what interests you in a way that’s fun for you, guess what? Writing is fun. Why do we like websites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Yik Yak? Twitter and Yik Yak are simply reading other people’s writing and creating our own. And clearly with the amount of people using such outlets, we love it. These are all types of writing that people don’t normally think of as such.
Last year, I was in a 300-level English course that had a very open-ended final project: analyze something that will somehow help you learn about your future. We could present the project any way we chose. My mind automatically went to “Oh crap, I don’t wanna do all this research and write a paper.” When I met with the professor to discuss the project proposal, I complained about not wanting to write a research paper about Twitter. He looked at me and said “Then don’t.” It was as simple as that. I was so molded to write a certain way that I constrained myself as if that were my only option. Granted, this professor was giving us a lot of creative freedom, but sometimes even when given the freedom, students don’t take it- as I almost didn’t. We don’t like change, it scares us. But I deeply encourage you that when you do come across the freedom and flexibility to write in the genre you choose, do so. Have fun with it. Let your creative juices flow. Give yourself the chance to love writing, even in an environment that usually wants to make you throw your computer at a wall. I encourage you to learn faster than I did to get yourself out of the pre-established molding and shaping for which genres to write in. There are hundreds of genres out there, you’re bound to find one you enjoy writing in.