We here at the Rock have never questioned that we are writers. But the craft–the act of it, finding time for it, the commitment to it–is not always easy. We have friends, homework, distractions, naps. Writing for fun, writing because it is what we want to do, falls to the back burner in the face of, well, college.
Why is writing so important for us–not only us Rock writers, but us human beings–to retain?
Today, on the 1000-article anniversary of The Rock at BC, we write again: to reflect, to understand, and to lend even further significance to what we do and who we are.
Ian Thomas Malone, founder and former chief of the Rock, emphasizes the importance of recreational writing. “[It’s] a valuable and often overlooked component of the college experience,” he says. “Writing allows us to continue learning on our own terms, outside of the paper topics assigned in class.”
We write to share our opinions. Information is important; coverage is important; breaking news is important. But our voices matter, too. Kate Lewis, former chief and Queen Bee of the Rock, says, “It’s great to use writing as a tool to say what I need to say, but it’s on a whole new level when somebody reads what you’ve written and tells you that they get it, that they feel it too.” That’s when news becomes conversation, and when writing becomes sharing, and when our thoughts become bigger than us.
Good writing is an avenue to communicate ideas and thoughts with the world, but great writing harnesses something inside of the writer that needs to be told. Great writing allows us to learn more about ourselves, and gives us confidence in our own voices. No writer is perfect, but in some moments, truly great writing feels like perfection.
And yet we write also because in writing, it’s okay to be imperfect. We can wrack our brains to choose the exact right word, or we can pick a thousand until that thousand-and-first fits. Sometimes, as Lewis says, we “fire our internal editor and write bad.” We can’t always name or describe our best practices–except to sit down, shut up, and start talking to the pages in front of us.
Only by writing, and writing often, can we discover our inner voice, that little piece of ourselves that knows that putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard allows us to truly be ourselves and is worthwhile. Everyone has that inner voice, but few let it grow and develop. As Malone says, “The starting point is simple, albeit vague. You have to be on the lookout for the idea…It’s uncomplicated, but not necessarily easy.”
By sharing our voices, writers have the power to speak for the voiceless. Meagan McCarthy, Editor in Chief 2014 and a runner in the 2013 Boston Marathon, said “[The 2013 Boston Marathon bombing] was a confusing and tragic day, but being able to write about it helped me, and many others, process what we were feeling.” Writers try to put language to the inexplicable, verbalizing the depths of our minds and our worlds, until we can step back and say, “Oh, that’s what I’ve been feeling all along.”
We write to step outside of an overstimulated world, and a college environment that tends to keep us from focusing on any one thing for too long. We’re overinvolved; we’re “too busy.” We’re always looking down, on our phones, on our Facebooks, and perhaps we’ve lost the art of great conversation. But what if writing is what gets us talking? What if that’s the first step out of our “busyness” and into peace? What if we have always had a forum to say what matters?
Being a writer is not about always being right, but coming to know what you stand for and standing for it. Writing creates ideas, and changes those ideas that need to be changed. As the writing grows, so does the writer. At its most basic, writing allows us to collect our thoughts and be at home with ourselves. At its best, writing not only allows for our personal growth as writers, but for the personal growth of the reader.
Writers make a difference in others when they write, but even without readers, writing matters. Writing comes from that little voice that demands to be heard, and each time it is listened to, it grows a bit stronger. As McCarthy says, “Writing lets us share a bit of ourselves, whether it’s deeply personal or simply a list of our favorite things. I’ve always been introverted, but [writing] gave me an outlet to write the words that are sometimes hard to say.”
Writing teaches us to trust the process. ”Put in the work to figure out what’s right for you. Once you get past that hurdle, you’re in luck. You get to write,” says Malone.
Lewis echoes him: “To get good at it, you just have to do it. Write a little every day, about anything, as long as you’re doing it. Write about the boy (or girl) who broke your heart, and Greek yogurt, and Game of Thrones. Write about the stuff you love and the stuff you hate. Write for yourself, and eventually an audience will come.”
So that’s why we write–for ourselves, for our world, and for you. We write to learn. We write to be heard. And we write with the trust that what we say is worth saying.
We hope you will, too.
All photos courtesy of The Rock at BC.