National Writing Project

Why Students Need to Think of Themselves as Writers

Publication: The Guardian
Date: November 22, 2011

Summary: Ph.D candidate Liana Silva had a revelation while following the #whyiwrite tweets on the National Day on Writing. No one wrote, "I write because I am a writer." She posits that everyone, particularly academics, needs to think of themselves as writers.


Excerpt from Article

I tell students on a regular basis that writing isn't only important because they need to graduate or pass a class but because it is the key to engaging other scholars in conversation. Even in informal media such as Twitter or Facebook we write to get our ideas across or to interact with other academics.

And even though we can argue that academic writing is not the same as tweeting, the rules of engagement are similar: we value clear, well-argued writing in each case. We value thoughts that are well articulated. We value creative, interesting posts that steer away from the clichés. Therefore, I think the most important advice I can share with my writers is this: think of yourselves as writers.

Why does thinking of yourself as a writer matter? When academics have to balance so many other roles and responsibilities, why add "writer" to the list? I believe that thinking of yourself as a writer can change the way you feel about writing in general, and this is especially important in the culture of "publish or perish".

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