Why “Writing”?

It’s a question I am asked all the time. It’s a question I used to ask myself. From elementary school through most of high school, I hated the thought of writing. An essay seemed like busy-work. There were times when I received notes of excellence and was recognized for my piece, but those times were not often. What I thought was amazing was not necessarily what the teacher thought was amazing. In school, I wrote to please the teacher, not to please myself.

Now that I think about it, I didn’t write well because I wasn’t necessarily inspired by the topic. Being forced to churn out stories for picture prompt assignments and reflections was a nuisance. What am I supposed to write about, and how do I even get started if I don’t care enough for the topic? If you want to see my best work, you should let me pick my own topic and go in the direction that I so please. I don’t want to be told in an opinion essay that my opinion is wrong.

In the past few years, however, I worked on several pieces within my field of biochemistry and developed an interest in writing about topics that I study. It’s said that one learns the material by teaching it to others. I can say that this strategy has worked for me. No matter how many experiments I run in the lab or how many lectures I sit through, I do not truly understand the material until I do some background research and present the material in a way that I would communicate to others.

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Image: pandawhale.com

I am a scientist in the making. Plenty of my classmates have asked me why I am taking writing classes; they tell me it’s a waste. Several students have asked me why I spend so much time working on and editing essays. Anyone who reads my scientific reports is only looking for data, right? As someone who reads scientific literature, especially as a reference, I would say absolutely not. Limiting myself to reading numbers and spectra does not help me understand the underlying concepts of the study at all. The data is great support for the argument of the study, but my main area of interest is the explanation of the mechanisms. I place greatest emphasis on the introduction, discussion, and conclusion. I want the details! I want to know why the research is so important that you have to spend years on it!

Writing intrigues me because of its power in communication. As I begin to work more and more with professional figures, I feel the need to place greater focus on my diction and tone. I have to be knowledgeable about the subject and convincing to the reader. For those who end up using my work to support their own claims, it is necessary that my writing be comprehensible and correct.

Perhaps it is my personality and nature to be curious and want to know the details. Then I think about the benefits of looking at the bigger picture. I am looking into a career in which I will have to evaluate the quality of pharmaceutical drugs and the synthetic processes. Not looking at a minute detail may cost lives! No point should be taken as unimportant when the stakes are so high. I should be able to share my observations with others and should expect that others share their own with me. That’s why I chose to work on my writing skills. Maybe I won’t be writing stories, but I will have the ability to paint an elaborate picture to communicate details with my coworkers. I will still be able to make a difference by appropriately addressing issues and communicating strategies to resolve them. That’s why “writing.”


5 thoughts on “Why “Writing”?

  1. I like this post. It reminds me of what i use to think of writing. I now understand its importance and I am trying to explore and do more things. Writing is important to your future no matter what field your in so continue to practice writing and make your work strong.

  2. This is a wonderful post. I specifically loved the structure – the last sentence connected very nicely to earlier parts of your post. It’s interesting that you moved away from the idea of writing to please the teacher and learned to write for yourself when you were writing about topics that inspired you. It reminds me of this blog post I read about blogging for “just two people.” Here is a link to the post if you are interested: http://ma.tt/2014/01/intrinsic-blogging/

    I find that its much easier to write or speak about a topic that I’m passionate about, even if it requires me to build the enthusiasm to do it. It seems like refining your writing skills was a smart move given the high stakes of the field you are planning to pursue a career in.

  3. Sonali, I have to say I agree with you here. I use to cringe at the thought of writing anything and it was for the same reasons, I didn’t feel like the subject matter was inspiring enough or interesting enough for me to care. But with the writing minor I was able to begin to see that once the perfect topic or inspiration appears, the writing comes easily, not perfectly perhaps, hence all the editing, but the task does not seem as daunting as before. Great insight!

  4. This is a real interesting post, for a number of reasons. Similar to the way you’ve thought about writing in the past, I could never feel entirely vested in what I was writing about due to a potential lack of interest. As someone who also shares a dual interest in science and writing, I agree with the point you’ve made about effectively communicating and expressing ideas. It’s not all about raw data, numbers and figures. More so, it’s what they all mean and how they can be broken down into explicable phenomena. Despite having a much stronger interest in more creative and personal writing as opposed to scientific communication, the same skill sets and tools are necessary to develop in order to

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