“I am, therefore I write”

My feature writing class this semester had an eclectic mix of students. In addition to the traditional print journalists, I had broadcast journalists, photographers, PR students, and students bound for law school and Congress. The diversity made for interesting discussions. On one of my sadder days — the last day of class — I assign one of my favorite writing prompts: “Why I write.” (Here are good ones from previous classes.) They inspire me. A selection:

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“I write because my hands often have a little more courage to say the things my heart wants to shout.”

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“We write because the world is filled with hurt, but we are not powerless in stopping it. We just have to know what we’re fighting against, how to combat it, and why doing so is important.

“I write because a lot is going on in my head and this is the best way to get it out. I write because we need more writers. We need more ideas spread, more taboo subjects demystified, and more encouragement from other people who can say, “Me too” in a world facing so much pain.

“Writing shows us that we are not alone.”

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“I write to preserve all the intangible things in life. Thoughts, speech, action. They are all lost as quickly as they come. I write to create a little museum for all the things that someday may be forgotten.

“I am, therefore I write.”

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“I write because, if I approach a story with good intentions and an open mind, I can give voice to the voiceless. I can interview people who feel honored I care enough to ask and show them that everyone should ask. Telling their stories should be a right, not a privilege.”

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One student quoted an entire poem and wrote: “To make sense. To feel. To live. To leave something behind, even if it never makes it past the pages of my own journal. To create a sense of permanence in my life.

“I write because I can’t not. It’s a curse I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”

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“Joy, pain, victory, loss, innovation, art – a million different people have a million different stories that will jolt you out of your apathy or egoism or boredom, at least for a moment, and writing is the best medium I know to give them voice.

“Words drive me absolutely insane. Sometimes, I think I hate writing – when I’m on a deadline, or when the words just won’t come. But then I’ll write a sentence, and I know it’s beautiful, and it sucks me back in again.”