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.
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.”