Writing Lets You Rule in School
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Doing well in school—particulary college—is not about how smart you are or how much you know. It’s about mastering certain skills. I wasn’t always the most diligent student, but I knew how to take tests well and I knew how to write well. Learning to write well means learning to reason well, learning to move from premises to reasonable conclusions, learning to support your ideas with relevant facts, etc. So if you write well you’ll often look smarter than those who know more than you do.
This isn’t just about looking like the smartest kid in school; it’s about being able to do something with the knowledge you have. There are plenty of brilliant people out there who can’t communicate what they know to anyone else. They may have smarts, but they don’t have a great deal of influence. It’s the brilliant people who know how to communicate their ideas who achieve academic renown. Perhaps that’s why most Ph.D’s and advanced degrees are awarded on the basis of a scholar writing a dissertation.
The need to write well doesn’t end after the degree is awarded. New professors learn very quickly that writing is the key to their survival. The academics who keep their jobs are the ones who write articles, papers, and books which get published. They are expected to “publish or perish.”
[This is the second part of a lecture designed to inspire high school students to love writing. In my next post, I’ll show how writing lets you “write your own job description.”]