Why You Should Write

   While I normally use my articles in an attempt to wax political, there will be plenty of opportunities for that later. I’m sure plenty of other Colgate students with center-left and far-left perspectives on politics will be able to take my place. Besides, there’s enough righteous, and often self-righteous, anger percolating on campus already.

   Out of nowhere, Lent is suddenly upon us. I’ve resorted to vague ideas of self-improvement as a substitute for actually giving something up. If I were to do nothing at all for the season, I’m sure I’d be overcome by a crushing sense of guilt.

   At some point, as I was tossing ideas through my mind for what topic to use for my column, it occurred to me that I should write more. I have a journal that hasn’t been updated in ages, I’ve been slacking a little in writing bi-weekly columns for The Maroon-News and most of my papers for classes get finished the night before they’re due (some things never change).

I came to the realization that unrequired writing is the best kind of writing. It’s a way to get those thoughts out of your mind that have been bugging you, a way to hone them into something more coherent than sentence fragments and flashing emotions that race through your brain at a stupefying pace. Sometimes writing will make you feel justified in thinking what you think, or, better, will make you change your mind about something. To confront the words you have written on a piece of paper is to confront yourself. Hopefully you emerge more patient and reserved.

   If personal closure isn’t quite the motivation you need to get writing, consider what it means to write for your own advancement. Write for a real publication that has actual editorial standards and a team in charge of editing your work. I don’t profess to be anything other than a college kid who picked up a pen a few years back thinking he could write something that sounded good. One often finds that, having written enough times on different subjects, a neat little repertoire of published work appears sitting on the computer, ready to be sent to any potential employer who requests a writing sample. Never let nervousness deter you; you get better with each article you write.

But what if you don’t need the professional advancement? What if you’re set in your career and you have nothing to gain by writing? Then if not for yourself, write for others. Write about the world, write about your life. The thing about your writing is that it’s you, it’s your mind, your heart. I have yet to meet someone who has lived much longer than 100 years. That’s the thing about writing, though; it lives forever, a little intangible piece of you that can be reproduced, immortalized for your descendants, for historians, for the curious who seek to know and understand our world long after we are gone.

Write to give a voice. This is the age of the pop-up social movement, the age of the flash mob, the Age of Information. People long to make themselves heard and to find others like them. Every script and every narrative you’ve seen behind a rally or a movement was written by someone who drew the attention of others who said “Yes! That’s it! This man, that woman, has articulated what others could only grasp at in their heads.” It’s a tradition that stretches from St. Paul to Thomas Aquinas to Voltaire to Martin Luther King Jr. There are around seven billion people in this world; I guarantee at least one will appreciate what you have to say.

   Stay focused, Colgate. And keep on writing.