(Here is an exercise I gave to my Advanced Applied Writing class at Ananda College the other day. After briefly touching it up, I thought you would enjoy looking it over — and taking on the challenge for yourself.)
One of the best Writer’s Digest books of the 1980s, On Being A Writer, presented interviews with more than 30 authors on their experiences as writers, and how they view the world and their purpose in it. The book conveyed many different styles, viewpoints and stories, all built around a common denominator: I am a writer.
Being a writer is a measure of great hard work, and the growth that has occurred from it. No longer are you someone who writes as part of your profession, education or for recreation — you are a writer. It is part and parcel of who you are, along with being a teacher, scholar, artist, athlete, son or daughter, friend, brother or sister, parent or grandparent, or the other ways in which you define yourself and others view you.
Being a writer is also an honor. In this society, it means that readers want to know and value your perspectives, viewpoints, insights and articulations. That is because, when you write about a subject that you have researched, you are often perceived as an expert of sorts on the subject. This is especially true when you write repeatedly around one theme or central subject. Writers are seen as people with vision, direction and purpose, who have the ability of word power to not only share what they see and feel, but present unique angles and dimensions that provoke thinking and feeling on behalf of their audiences.
I would like you to reflect on the question: What does it mean to be a writer? As you do so, and as you fashion a tightly-crafted, 1,000-word to 1,500-word essay from it, explore these areas and also incorporate them into your work
• Tell a story in which you realized that you were no longer someone who wrote occasionally, but a writer. A story in which you saw your subject in a different light — and then articulated it.
• Describe your journey of becoming a writer. Where you started from, where you are now. How do words feel different? How is your writing process different?
• What is your writing process? Try to describe it in a stream-of-consciousness manner, to show us the inner world of how you write.
• In what areas of study, or life, have you learned the most because of writing about it? How has writing expanded your experience or your learning process?
• How has your development of a bonafide writing voice expanded you as a person? A communicator? A soul?
• What one essay, blog or paper, in this or another class, required you to invoke all of your writing skills — and how did you, the writer, treat the subject in a way that you, as a student who wrote, would not have been able to negotiate six months or a year ago?
Go deep on this essay. Make it distinct, personal, your experience written in your voice. Tell the world what it is like to be a writer, and how writing will continue to contribute to your life purpose moving forward. If you’d like, email it back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply post a link to your essay in the comments section of this blog.