I’m still decompressing from my week off, so I thought I’d make this week’s post a little easy on myself. I thought I’d write about that moment which most communicators have early in their lives: The time you realize you can make an impact as a writer. Now by impact, I don’t mean writing the next great political manifesto. Rather, using our writing talent to add value to an organization or ourselves.
So what was mine? I was attending classes at Temple University, majoring in Radio/TV/Film. My dream was to be a film director ala Woody Allen. During my first semester, I had to take a basic composition class they required for everyone.
I had always been a good writer – not necessarily a grammatical wizard, but I expressed myself in very thoughtful ways when I wrote in high school. I used words that the average student didn’t use. For instance, I would probably use “difficult” instead of “hard.” Additionally, I structured my writing in ways that flowed well and were easy for the reader to follow. The fact that I had a creative mind didn’t hurt either.
Now, while my teachers always appreciated my above-average writing, I didn’t realize how poorly most of the other students wrote. Even though I had classmates who asked my advice when writing a paper, I never noticed how scattered and disjointed the essays or reports of the typical high school student were.
When I entered my higher education, I didn’t intend to concentrate on writing in any serious way. Then I took this basic composition course. After writing a few papers, the instructor asked to speak with me. I wasn’t sure why he would want to talk to me on my own, but was pleasantly surprised when he told me, “I just wanted to let you know that I am sponsoring you to enroll in the university’s Honors Program.”
I wasn’t aware, but instructors and professors were able to recommend students for the program when they saw potential in those who weren’t enrolled based on their high school grades (and believe me… mine would NOT have gotten me into the program!).
I thanked him and asked him what motivated him to do that. He responded that my writing was excellent – although he admitted I could use a refresher on certain grammatical principles.
It was at that point I thought that if this whole film director thing didn’t pan out, I would be able to make some scratch with my writing. After enrolling in the Honors Program, I decided to list a minor in English so that any potential future employers would see I was serious about writing and literary thought.
Full disclosure: I do NOT remember the instructor’s name! I’m ashamed to admit that. I can remember his face clearly, but his name hasn’t come to me since I graduated. Regardless, I’m eternally grateful to this gentleman for recognizing my potential and making this gesture to make me realize it. It gave me a great deal of confidence and the motivation to take the craft of writing much more seriously.
So that’s the pivotal moment in my life that has brought me here and it’s probably the big reason why you’re reading this blog (you lucky duck!). What about you? What was your “a ha!” moment when you decided to take your writing – or preferred method of expression – seriously? Let me know in the Comment section!
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