What Experience “Made a Writer Out of YOU?”

By September 21, 2011Writing about Writing

As we approach The National Day of Writing on October 20, it seems timely to look back on the experiences that brought us to cultivate our skills as writers, and hopefully, led us to love the activity. This is not to try to answer the eternal question “Are writers made or born?”  At this point in our development, does it matter? And besides, even if we were born to write, we still need to become aware of it. For each of us, there was some liberating experience that set us off on the writer’s path – What was yours?

I can’t necessarily say I always wanted to be a professional writer, although I have been, but I always, even as far back as high school, wanted to a capable writer. I saw writing as the mark of a person of sophistication and attainment; someone who could organize his thoughts so well, he could get others to understand them, even when he wasn’t physically present! And even in my childhood, I respected writing, and the people who were masters of it. I could only imagine how proud I would be if I could write something that could move someone. Not to mention how impressive it was to me that someone could understand all those rules! For me, a great writer was no different than a great painter – only that one used paint on canvas and the other one didn’t.

It is important to remember the role of teachers, especially our grammar school teachers, in inspiring us to literacy. A good teacher sets our minds into motion, and even a few complimentary words, just at the right time, can open a door that can never again be closed.

As a tutor in DePaul’s University Center for Writing-based Learning, I have become aware of the potential I have to help faculty in inspiring writers to sharpen their skills and hopefully, enjoy the activity more. There is a great sense of accomplishment in creating a piece of writing that you KNOW you have done well – and as a result, realize you are a writer for sure.

What experience in YOUR life made a writer out of you?

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • I like the bit here about how important those words of encouragement are. I realized I could write when a certain stingy and frightening creative writing professor at DePaul gave me the coveted check+ on a poem I wrote. A glance around the room showed me that most all others had only a check… It was a proud moment that has given me the confidence to write to this day, and I suspect I will remind myself of it when discouraged for the rest of my life.

  • David S. says:

    I personally believe there is NOTHING more important toward the development of literacy in children than for a parent or other adult to spend time reading to a child. I remember pointing to letters as my mother read to me and sounding the words out together with her. I remember thinking of the letters as a code that other people understood but not me — I wanted to understand, too.

    You also bring up another important point: the importance of excellence in illustration in establishing a bond between the story and the reader. I used as my personal example E.B. White’s Stuart Little. What I failed to mention was the perfection of Garth Williams’ illustrations. When I picked up the book again so many years later (the book has never been out of print), I immediately remembered all the illustrations; the memory hit me right between the eyes, and as I stood there in Barnes & Noble I became a little boy again.