The best writers I’ve met have lived such exciting and interesting lives. They’ve been through pain, and at times wise beyond their years.
I remember the fear that I felt the first time that “Professor friendly” forced us to read our what he called “awful” research papers aloud.
I didn’t understand why he didn’t like anything I wrote. I spent days, weekends, and often weeks on these papers. Every time he came back with the same grade for three weeks of senior seminar. He would give me a paper that I worked hard on with a big, red, and horrific B.
I was in accelerated classes for gosh sakes, far more extensive than this one. He argued with me on everything that I wrote. I never put any of my personality into it, but that’s what I learned as a Journalist. We are not supposed to be biased.
This class was about finding your own voice. I realized that when the somewhat chubby painfully shy girl next to me would read her grade A papers, that she hadn’t taken any time to research at all.
They were all about her own experiences, how could that be fair? I took an entire weekend to research and she wrote what she knew. I began to take my cue from her, “Maybe I should follow suit and embarrass myself,” I thought.
I decided that the Professor just wants me to write from the depths of my soul, share it, and humiliate myself in front of the entire class.
I began to write about what was truly in my heart. My family, things that had bothered me years ago that I only wrote down in journals, never for classmates. I realized that the topics I was given somehow were relatable to my life.
As long as I was willing to write about my life, my teacher was willing to give me a grade A. I had taken three hours to write this first A, and it was fairly easy, almost therapeutic.
I realized that what the Professor was trying to do was to make us find our own voices in our writing and in our life. The strongest writer is not afraid to be themselves.
Have you ever met anyone who was successful that was afraid of their own shadow? Every week that I discussed my personal tragedies, rarely triumphs with my classmates, feeling as though I was betraying my own self, I began to feel better somehow.
He took me aside. I was terrified. What could this man that I believed couldn’t stand me possibly have to say to me?
“Kristine, do you realize how much passion you release when you write from your heart?” he shared.
“You have learned all there is to learn about research, communication law, and to write like a Journalist,” he said. “But remember, you are also a human being. If you can relate to the people you interview, that makes you human.”
“When you write from the heart, you get inside of someone else’s story. You get outside of yourself,” he said. “Never forget, to be fearless Kristine. You are fearless, you just didn’t see it until the fear of failure forced you to.”
I walked home that afternoon with a feeling of triumph. I think I had pleased the handsome, still disheveled, now wonderful Professor.
What I learned in that class and throughout life was a valuable lesson. As a writer, research, sound bites, quotes, whatever it is you do, they are all vital to your career.
When you bring your heart to the table, you are a relatable Journalist. When you write from your heart you take a story and insert the best of who you are into it.