Writing Promotes Success in College and at Work

Writing Promotes Success in College and at Work

As a student, you are probably aware of the many ways writing can contribute to your success in school. Students who learn to write for different readers and purposes do well in courses throughout the curriculum. Eventually, you will need to use writing to advance your career by writing persuasive application letters for jobs or graduate school admission. At work, you will be expected to write effective e-mail messages,


memos, and reports that present clear explanations, well-reasoned arguments, con- vincing evaluations, and constructive proposals.

People think it’s sort of funny that I went to graduate school as a biologist and then became a writer. . . . What I learned [in science] is how to formu- late or identify a new question that hasn’t been asked before and then to set about solving it, to do original research to find the way to an answer. And that’s what I do when I write a book. — BARBARA KINGSOLVER

Reflection 2. Writing That Mattered

Write a page or two describing an occasion when writing helped you accomplish some- thing. Here are some possibilities to consider:

an occasion when you used writing to prepare for a test or otherwise help you remember critical material

an occasion when writing helped you better understand a difficult subject or reading

an occasion when you worked through a personal or an intellectual problem by writing

an occasion when you used writing to influence someone else

an occasion when writing enabled you to express your feelings or made you feel connected

an occasion when your writing helped you get a better grade or succeed in some way

an occasion when your writing made others take notice

How Writing Is Learned There are many myths about writing and writers. For example, some people assume that people who are good at writing do not have to spend a lot of time learning to write — that they just naturally know how. Others assume that “real” writers write perfectly the first time, every time, dashing off an essay with minimal effort. Writers’ testimonies, however, together with extensive research on how people write and learn to write, show that writing can — indeed, must — be learned. All writers work at their writing. Some writers may be more successful and influential than others. Some may find writing easier and more satisfying than others. But no one is born knowing how to write.

Learning to write well takes time and much effort, but it can be done. — MARGARET MEAD

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. — ERNEST HEMINGWAY


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