I haven’t written a blog post, or much of anything creative, in quite a long time. While working on papers for my business and journalism classes, I felt a lack of motivation to write anything on my own. It’s sort of like when I would read assigned books in middle and high school with the promise of a report due at the end— it made reading start to feel like work instead of pleasure.
My English literature teacher in high school used to say, “All writing is creative writing,” which I mostly agreed with at the time. But now, as I’m starting to get into more formal types of writing, I feel I’m losing my voice in these pieces. When you’re writing six pages about motivation theories and demotivation in the field of Organizational Behaviour, all writing does certainly not feel creative. And when you typically let the ink flow freely from your pen without having to do much thinking, it becomes a struggle when you fall into the rut of academic writing, to go back to being creative.
Last week, my journalism professor returned our latest papers to our class. We had each reported and written a profile, which was a form of writing I had never done. I was satisfied with my piece, though I had struggled with determining which details to include, what to leave out, and how to best structure the paper. My professor did not find the piece very interesting, and was not convinced that I profiled someone of enough importance to warrant being written about. My paper earned me a B-. Usually, if my writing is going to be graded, I don’t pay too much attention to it because my end goal with writing is not to earn a pretty letter grade on a piece of paper. Writing can be pretty subjective, and I’ve found teachers tend to like your writing more if they have a similar style to you.
After getting my journalism paper back, I spent the next hour sitting on the rarely-vacuumed carpeted floor of my dorm room, laptop in front of me, looking up everything my professor had written for magazines and newspapers in the past few years. I found many articles on topics that simply didn’t interest me (politics in particular), which I breezed over. When I came to some headlines that captured my attention, I was hopeful. However, I found I do not like his writing style. There was one piece about the professor and his wife packing up their belongings and driving around the country in search of a cool city in which to settle down. The beginning was promising, but in my opinion, the piece fell flat. In all of his pieces, his great reporting skills are evident, but in terms of style, it’s structured and polished, but lacks originality. I tend to be inspired by writing that’s more engaging. I certainly have a lot to improve on in terms of journalism, and I’ve been trying to combine my free-flowing style with my professor’s structured style for the final writing assignment for the sake of appealing specifically to what he looks for in an essay.
Today, I took a break day to get inspired to start writing for fun again. I went on a 3-mile run with a friend, took a stroll by myself through a Pittsburgh neighborhood I haven’t explored, listened to new music on Spotify, ate some cake, read, and had a long chat with a friend. Now, I’m sitting in the library at 2am with a clear head for writing. It feels good to get back at it after nearly a month of not writing at all.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about why I write, and what motivates me to do so. Part of it is to simply organize the jumbled thoughts in my head by putting it on paper, but that part is just for me. Blogging and taking writing classes are things that fall on a larger scale. My end goal with posting on the blog and submitting work to professors is to produce something that other people can read and hopefully connect to. Another reason I write is because my brothers don’t.
A few years ago, I came home from school with an A on a project and showed my dad. His response was something that will always stick with me. “That’s great, maybe you’ll be smarter than Matt one day!” he said. Matt is the youngest of my three older brothers, the one I’m compared to most often. But the thing is, it’s not my goal to be better or smarter or faster or stronger than him. I’ve always been the creative sibling, the one that’s into art and books and fashion. Throughout my life, I’ve been experimenting with ceramics, jewelry making, painting, scrapbooking, all different forms of self-expression through art. I use fashion as a form of expression as well, often wearing outfits that are colorful and crazy and most people hate.
I write because I want to produce something that no one else could ever make in the exact same way. That is what sets me apart from my brothers, and from other people I could be compared to. That is what gives me purpose and fuels my desire to keep writing. My thoughts and my words are unique to me. Even though there are plenty of other people in the world who can write 100 times better than me, we all have different ideas and individual writing styles. My brothers excel at chemistry and computer science and business, but other people are capable of doing pretty much the exact same job in more or less the same manner. In order for me to feel valued, I need to create things that other people couldn’t do in the same way. That’s where I find motivation to pursue my passion.