Editor’s Corner

Working out the left brain through writing

This may come as a surprise given my current position on this paper, but I despise writing. Ready for another surprise? One of the reasons I applied to Rensselaer was because they didn’t require any supplemental essays. So isn’t it ironic that I’m here now, voluntarily writing two or more articles a week for a weekly newspaper?

My lack of interest in writing has been a longstanding trait of mine. In first and second grade, we had designated writing times when we could write and draw stories about whatever we wanted. At the end of the week, we got to take all of our beautiful work home, and week after week my parents would find at least one copy of the famous “I do not know what to write” by Jack Wellhofer. I just didn’t know what to write. It wasn’t from lack of interests or topics to write about, because I had plenty of those. It was something else.

It’s taken me many years to learn this about myself, but now I know that when I write, I need a clear purpose in mind or it all goes to waste. It was frustrating to have “open-ended” writing prompts for English essays; it left me lost in an open field. What draws me to math and science is that there tends to be a definitive answer to a problem. The way two compounds react with each other has a definitive solution. A definite integral has a numerical solution. Yet with writing, it’s very different. There is never one way to go about writing. This same notebook could have been written in hundreds of different ways, using different words, and while there are equally as many ways to go about mathematically solving an integral, it doesn’t carry the same meaning that using different vocabulary, terminology, or jargon does in a paper.

When I have a specific topic to write about—a news article, research paper, etc—the writing process is easier. Often I have an outline to work from to keep me on track, and I’m able to string together thoughts and points. My stream of consciousness doesn’t jive well with creative writing, however. I think in bursts and tangents and sometimes get so far off track exploring a concept that I forget where I started. I’m actually lucky I managed to get that down on the page, because sometimes I think of something that sounds good and then immediately forget it as I try to type.

I think my personality lends itself to structured writing as well. I’m not particularly good at using “flowery language” unless it becomes a repetitive habit or I’m focusing on it. “Give me the facts and get on with it” is how I go about writing. Why write 500 words when I can do it in 200? To any past English teachers reading this, I’m sorry for all the times you had to write “more detail” in capital letters on my essay. I guess I felt that I had worked through the solution and there was nothing left to add. What’s the point of adding more when I can come to the same conclusion, right?

So you can imagine my struggle as I have to write this open-ended notebook—literally my worst fear as a writer. I’ve started and stopped quite a few times in the past day, and right now there is an abundance of loose tangents at the bottom of my document that never quite found a place. Also, there’s nothing worse than trying to conclude something like this. So, bye.