University Writing Center Blog

Posted on October 27th, 2020 in Creative Writing, Opportunity, Writing Strategies by University Writing Center | Tags: , ,

Written by: Zoe H.

One of our amazing consultants Zoe H. discusses how writing is not only for academia, but also a personal experience for the every-day writer.

I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until late in my senior year of high school. I took a lot of personality tests until trying to figure it out, not that they helped. (I really don’t want to be a teacher, no matter how many times Buzzfeed tells me to be one.) However, I started writing creatively in middle school. Some people cope with exercise; others baking; the productive ones, cleaning. I cope(d) with poetry. 

Now, this poetry won’t win awards. It ignores many basic guidelines of poetry (there was absolutely no imagery in for many years, plus some horrendous end rhyme). But I found a way to shamelessly express my emotions. I proudly claim being introspective (the many hours of considering my qualities, place in the world, and the like can attest to that), but I have always struggled with emotions. I know that I am feeling them but fail to parse the distinct emotions and their causes; writing poetry provides a sense of clarity. I can write as messily and horribly as I want and figure myself out along the way. I assume the process is similar to journaling, but this is natural to me. I sometimes think in- admittedly bad- poetry (a strange attribute for a child of scientists). Poetry is inherent in how I perceive and interact with the world. 

This writing is different from my writing for assignments or submissions for publication (we will call it professional poetry, though no one pays me). For cathartic writing, I keep no audience in mind and not care about how the words sound. Sometimes these poems work themselves into more marketable pieces when the emotion has faded and I reworked the form and language. Other times, I approach my professional poetry starting with the form or the rhyme scheme or a cool metaphor and add emotion after the mechanics are straightened out. 

I have been taught that the purpose of writing is to share information with others. I discovered it can also be to share information with myself. However, it is also okay if you don’t learn anything. It is valid to write just to write, knowing that nothing is expected. It can be a form of self-care or a way of self-expression or simply an exercise to see how many rhyming words you can fit into a sentence about pancakes. Writing is often accompanied with expectations and anxiety, but there is so much more it can provide. For me, it’s catharsis and learning. Enjoy discovering what it does for you.