By Alexander Brumlik
It is often more challenging to put words on a page than to speak them out loud. I get it. Writing takes effort. Writing takes time. However, the more you write, the easier it becomes. I promise. Few people are naturally gifted writers. I find it difficult to think of the right words. I have to proofread my work to ensure my grammar and syntax are correct, and I have to concentrate to make sure my thoughts are organized. Most of us write with an intended goal in mind. Often, we want to communicate with others to express an emotion, experience, or opinion. We frequently write to persuade others or issue a call to action. When we take a stance on a particular topic, we leave ourselves vulnerable and open to criticism from both ourselves and others. However, God has given us spiritual gifts: He has gifted us with the power of healing, interpretation, prophesy, and communication. Your voice is important. Your experiences matter. The events you have witnessed, the words you have studied, and the conversations you have had with others provide you with a unique perspective which qualifies you to offer an opinion.
However, when it comes to writing, there are practical matters to consider. When people read, they exercise a level of judgement, but this is not always a bad thing. As important as it is to be a good writer, we must also be careful readers. We should guard ourselves from ignorance and unsupported claims (i.e., false news). In the same way that we need to think before we speak, we need to be extra careful when writing, whether it be texts, emails, or even articles in a school newspaper, because the words are permanent. Our words will be out there for others to read. We need to make sure that we think carefully about the problem, take the time to do some introspection, and remain honest. Another type of judgment is called bias. Readers will judge the writer’s ability to express themselves. Readers will discount what you have written if it does not adhere to the “correct” voice.
When writing, I need to consider my audience and, therefore, my voice. Formality is expected when writing academically and professionally. We want our opinions to be judged on their merits; unfortunately, in terms of practicality, our opinions will also be judged based on our writing skills. Writing can open and close doors. For example, graduate schools often require prospective students to write an essay, and poor writing may limit one’s advancement in a company. That is why King’s Quality Enhancement Plan, called Write Well, Finish Well, has focused on writing. King wants to equip you with the skills you need to excel as thoughtful, resourceful, and responsible citizens with a passion for serving God, the Church, and the world. And this includes being comfortable communicating on paper. I promise you, this is the time and place for you to start working on your writing. Ask your professors for help, use the Online Writing Lab (OWL), the Writing Centers, and the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE). If all else fails, come find me so that we can commiserate and work on our writing together!