Writing as a Tool

2019-4-24

By: Matthew Jellick

The ability to express oneself through written words, transmitted from not only our minds but also from our hearts, onto a page, takes, above all else, courage.  From applying your research into a formal proposal, or from sharing your feelings through poetry, writing is a skill that can be honed, but foremost, must come from a truth found somewhere innate, mirroring the individual who dares to share.

I, myself, didn’t start writing extensively until I moved abroad a decade ago in 2009, using the pages as a platform to share my travel stories.  Interspliced with facts and emotion, I would tell about my experiences living and teaching abroad in Korea, sprinkling descriptives about the Peninsula with the feelings it conjured up in me.  This mechanism provided an outlet of expression I had never felt before, so I continued, eventually writing for local newspapers, magazines, and even peer-reviewed journals, both in Asia as well as Africa.

In my current capacity at Southern University of Science and Technology, I have taken on the responsibility of lead teacher on our center’s “Campaign for Improving Writing”, in which we work with both Students and Staff on everything from Academic to Creative Writing.  In addition, the SUSTech Center for Language Education also hosts a series of weekly Writing Workshops, on topics ranging from “Practical Email Writing” to “Coherence Between Sentences”, encouraging everyone on campus to both hone their writing skillsets, be they for informal correspondence or academic purposes.  With an aim to increase overall proficiency across the university spectrum, one of our underlying goals is to be inviting, fostering a welcoming learning environment where students are motivated, not critiqued, as it applies to their writing proficiency.

When I was an undergraduate student, I took a Creative Writing course, and I remember the professor telling us, that above all else, you need to be happy with what you have written - if it fits all the parameters of structure and syntax, but you’re not satisfied with it, then don’t submit it.  I learned then that writing is an extension of oneself, and if done correctly, an intimate portrayal of thought, be it a simple message conveyed through an email, or a position backed by strong research in a journal submission.  I try to convey this to my students, in the hopes that they can develop through practice, writing both for academic as well as personal growth.