Why do you write?

Inspired by a recent post from one of my unintentional mentors, Michael Hyatt, I thought I’d write something personal and offer a peek into why I write in this space.

Most papers I wrote in school were plagued with red marks and the reoccurring phrase: “awkward sentence.” In fact, that statement was used so much that I have screenshots of the squiggly line with the words written above, etched into my memory. No matter how hard I’ve tried, they won’t go away.

Over the years, I’ve taken the criticism I’ve received of my writings to heart. Essentially, all of critiques, well intended or not, reinforced what I had already been told—I write awkwardly. Since the word “awkward” is never used to exemplify a positive experience, it’s not hard to imagine that this repetition had negative effects on my desire to write. It didn’t matter what it was for, I accepted the reality that I was a “bad writer” and that got me out of writing pretty much anything of importance. After all, who wants the “bad writer” to take lead on a group project or advertising copy? Me either.

In college, I confided with one of my professors that I was really struggling in his class. He asked me a handful of questions and promptly diagnosed me with a “learning disorder.” Immediately afterward, he stated that his wife dealt with these kinds of “issues” and that gave him the moral authority to diagnose me. Great, so not only am I a bad writer, but now I have a learning disorder. No wonder my motto in college was “C’s get degrees.” I was convinced.

It’s only been in the past five-to-six years that I’ve dared to challenging these, and other voices. Before then, these people represented the authority and no matter what I thought, they were right. So, when teachers told me I couldn’t write or worse yet, that I have a learning disability, I believed them. As much as I didn’t want to, I did, I have and to some degree, I still do.

So, why do I write this blog?

As much as I would like to say that I write to become a “Tribe” leader, grow a following or boost my stats, it’s not like that for me. Sure, I get distracted by those ambitions, but at the end of the day, I write to silence the voices and the resistance. I write to prove to myself that I’m not a bad writer. I write to, in some ways, prove to my teachers that they were and are wrong.

Seth Godin has been one of the primary catalysts in helping me re-evaluate the things that have impacted my life the most. To be honest, this has given me an incredible amount of permission to challenge the voices and systems that have shaped who I am to this day. What I am finding is, it’s not that they were totally wrong, but they weren’t entirely right.

Why do you write?

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  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/debjowen Deb

    That is quite possibly the best reason *ever* that I've heard for someone to write. Keep it up and keep challenging old ideas. (I've been doing this myself lately, with amazing results. It's like Paul, 'the scales fall from the eyes'.)

    Thanks for sharing this story, and for continuing to write!
    All the best!
    deb

    • http://www.kylechowning.com Kyle

      Thanks Deb for the encouragement. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

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  • http://www.potsc.com mike foster

    great post kyle. thats a great reason to blog. btw i still right awckward sentences :)

    • http://www.kylechowning.com Kyle

      Thanks Mike. I try to write them often as well. It’s just more fun!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    I enjoyed your post, Kyle. One of my favorite sayings is…

    Your destiny is not determined by your critics.

    Thanks for proving this to be true!

    • http://www.kylechowning.com Kyle

      Thanks John! That’s a great quote…one that I will hold onto.

  • http://www.lifecourseministries.com Michael Lanphere

    Boy do I relate. English and grammer were my worst subjects in school. I didn't have time for them because I was into sports. It wasn't until I started in the full time ministry that those subjects became important to me, and not until I was embarrassed every Sunday morning when invariably someone would help me by making corrections to the way I connected my words while preaching. I know I'm one of those people who communicate better on paper than verbally, but my writing really uncovered my grammatical ignorance and my shortcomings with the English language.
    However, I have published one book to date and plan on more. I have a blog and write every chance I get. I'm still a long ways from being a Max Lucado, and will probably never get there but I enjoy writing, it keeps me sharp, and it helps my readers with their interpretation skills.

    • http://www.kylechowning.com Kyle

      Clearly, we are in the same boat. It’s not an easy one to get out of, but so far, it’s been rewarding. Congrats on your book and future books. That’s the ultimate “stickin’ it to the man.”

  • http://evaulian-thebestoftheworst.blogspot.com/ Eva Ulian

    That's why I have never believed in competitions- they are created to re-enforce the "group's" prejudices. Glad you liberated yourself from such.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/kaikunane ThatGuyKC

    Kyle – I definitely identify with feeling labeled and boxed in and wanting to "silence those voice and the resistance". I'm just beginning the journey and this post helped clarify why I write and "given me an incredible amount of permission to challenge the voices and systems that have shaped who I am".

    I'm relatively new to the blogosphere, but Seth Godin and Michael Hyatt are staples in my daily reading diet (and now you are too!!).

    You're a great writer!

    • http://www.kylechowning.com Kyle

      Welcome to the club. It’s easy join. Hard to stay committed to, but the rewards are plentiful.

  • http://www.clorechronicles.com John Clore

    Hey Kyle, great stuff here man. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so honestly. Inspiring.

    John Clore

  • kristy

    Here is a new voice…listen carefully…you are a great writer. Those teachers didn't know what they were talking about.

  • kiuli

    The voices you speak of…friends of mine, of every human being even. Sometimes external, which are then internalized. Or entirely homegrown – all it takes is a small seed to get 'em going, it seems.

    Your writings prove you have been, without a doubt, in my head. It is comforting to know there is company on this journey – it still seems so scarily lonely most times.

    Thank you. Please keep writing.

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  • http://jeffgoins.myadventures.org Jeff Goins

    I write to make sense of things. Writing helps me process. There is something incarnational to the activity. Certainly, it's great to share and get feedback (hence: blogging), but I think that I would write even without an audience. The creative in me writes just for the joy of being able to create something — to pull an idea out of the cosmos and bring it to life. Madeleine L'Engle speaks at length about this topic in "Walking on Water" — an excellent book on the topic of art (particularly, writing) and faith.
    My recent post The Real John Lennon- Artist or Entertainer