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Make Sure You Have Something to Say by Bill Borrie

March 11, 2014

One of the secrets to great writing surely must be to practice the craft. So, take whatever opportunities arise to tackle the challenge of organizing your thoughts and faithfully communicate them to others. Brilliant ideas and insights deserve to be shared. Indeed, as scholars, we have a duty and a responsibility to capture those thoughts and offer them up to all who might consider them.

But, in this ‘firehose’ era, where we are inundated in information and seemingly endless demands for our attention, make sure you have something worthwhile to say. You’ll know when you do! I wrote a weekly blog for over two years and it is obvious when you run out of things to write – you post about the challenge of blogging! Of course, it is a narcissism not peculiar to blog posts as anyone who had padded an essay to reach a target length will know. So, spare us your navel gazing unless there’s something interesting down there!

I enjoy writing. The physical experience of writing, that is. I find there is something very tactile and amazingly eye-opening in watching words magically appear on the page. I write with a fountain pen, which was a habit I picked up in college. The words flow easier that way and they seem to take on an appearance that makes me want to care. Writing on paper allows me a freedom of few bounds. I can scratch things out, put in curly arrows to insert an expounding or extension (just did!), and write sideways down the margin if I want to. Later, when typing these words into the computer, I edit and sometimes move things around. But, the creative act is channeled through my pen and paper.
Can you hear my voice? People often tell me they feel as though I’m talking straight to them when they read my writing. I like that, and I often can hear myself as I’m writing. And, it’s not uncommon that I read aloud what I’ve written. I find that very quickly points out awkward phrasing and word choice. Besides, I have a great radio voice, and it, too, needs practice! I want to connect with my audience and it seems as though I should stay true to who I am and not try to write like someone else. That’s being true to my voice, right?

Writing is hard. But, it is still such a crucial skill. Like most skills, you need to practice it, enjoy the craft and task of it, all the while maintaining the simple fact that a piece of you is forever left behind for others to ponder over. Writing is a great gift, never should it be squandered, more should it be treasured. It shouldn’t be easy.

Bill Borrie is a Professor of Park and Recreation Management

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