The Electronic Portfolio of

How I Write

29 January 2012

Why I Write: A Journey into the Reasons Compelling Me to Express Myself on Paper

            George Orwell[DP1] , in his piece of which this essay takes its title, quipped, “All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery.” The question would seem as though it is easy enough to answer, but it becomes clear that a bit of internal analysis is necessary to find an accurate and truthful response. The question is intriguingly simple, yet unexpectedly complex. It has worth, however, due to the affinity and respect I have for the discipline, as well as its importance in not only the university but also afterward in the real world. Some introspection and reflection on my career and future as a writer has led me to conclude on two main impetuses and framing perspectives for why I write. In the first, I view the question in the literal sense, ascertaining that I write in order to make the grade in my college classes. A more intuitive undertaking of my reasons for writing reveals that I like being able to organize words in an entertaining, reflective, or persuasive way, as I always have and will continue to enjoy.

Essays are one of the most endemic academic features of many students’ college experiences. You write to get in, you write to get by, and in the case of honors theses or dissertations, you write to get out. My focus of study in political science has made me accustomed to sitting at my desk, writing to argue or analyze this point or that. It is the most effective way of gauging one’s understanding or ability. The point of college is to learn, and the only way a student can prove he or she is doing that is to write. Writing because of my occupation as a student is the necessary condition for why I write. A sufficient condition of enjoying the craft in itself and its challenge is perhaps a more interesting dialogue[DP2] .

There is something more to the question, though. I would not tolerate so much writing and certainly not undertake a minor in the field if I did not enjoy it and find it engaging. From early on I have had fun writing my own comic books, mock newspapers, short stories, and mysteries. The creativity that is in some way requisite of writing is of interest to me. I think this originates from the complementary relationship writing and reading share. My mom instilled in my sister and I that reading is of utmost importance, and fun too. My love for the book shelf in my room growing up motivated me to try my hand at writing, propelling me to accolades in two advanced writing classes in high school and a focus in college.

With respect for the discipline comes satisfaction of its challenge. The ability to express oneself on paper is one the most important and privileged skills mankind can possess. It therefore follows that I approach what I write with scrutiny in order to prove to myself that I am proficient. I am quick to critique the writing of others; critical analysis is what school has trained us to do. I subsequently write to show others that my understanding of a topic is not only adequate but superior. For what good are one’s ideas if he or she cannot express them through a physical medium to be judged by others? That is the real allure of writing: it is a handwritten snapshot of the mind[DP3] .

Going forward with the Minor in Writing, I plan to experience many of the motivations for writing I have outlined in this piece. I am enjoying the creative blog posts of New Media Writing, and am sure to respect the challenge of proving to myself and others my ability in Advanced Rhetoric next year. From implementing my respect for writing in this program, I will garner a better understanding of what it means to be a good writer, which I will transfer into my career that is somewhere not too far down the road. The journey has to start somewhere, and establishing why I write will propel me to this point. As something that is of academic and personal value to me, I write out of necessity, enjoyment, and respect for the skill and its challenge. As I mature and progress as I writer, I think my writing will take on different motivations. I can see myself, as Orwell[DP4]  ascertained in his article, writing to further an opinion political in nature. I think this requires a mastery of the craft, which is what I’m writing to gain now[DP5] .

The mystery as to why we engage in writing may seem innocuous on the surface. Delving a bit farther below one’s original rebuttals of “because I have to” or “because I like to,” one begins to piece together his or her true feelings regarding writing. This beneficial and worthwhile exercise will undoubtedly improve all writers’ attempts at mastering the trade as they create a greater capacity for understanding what specifically is prompting their grip on the pen or hand on the keyboard.[DP6]


 [DP1]Did I adequately utilize my reference to Orwell?

 [DP2]I don’t think arguing that I write because I have to is all that interesting of a paragraph, but it is nonetheless true. Is there anything I can do to spruce this up a little?

 [DP3]How can I expand on this last sentence without being redundant? I might be having trouble expressing this point in more than only a few sentences.

 [DP4]I think I need to mention more about Orwell here. I need to demonstrate that I understand and contemplated his quote, not just used it to open my paper.

 [DP5]One of my peer editors thought I should clean up my transitions. Is this one as well as the preceding ones alright?

 [DP6]Is my conclusion confusing? I’m trying to say that it was obvious for me to initially respond to this prompt by saying I have to or that I like to, which are both true. However, my point here is that thinking deeper about these two motivations led me to find the real causes for my writing.

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