In the 11th grade, my English teacher Mrs. Rainey accused me of plagiarism. To this day I am unsure as to why she felt as this way, however her claim was that the research paper in question was not “written in my voice”. Though I was not brought up on literal charges and still managed to get a decent grade in the class, it is still a prospect that will forever haunt and more so annoy me. I consider myself a skilled writer. I have many well received papers, essays and writing assignments under my belt that can certainly vouch for that. As an advertising student my concentration is in copywriting and I fully intend on finding work in an ad agency as a copywriter. Though, I’ve never been published or written professionally, it is something I aspire to do and believed I have the potential to make it happen. In Sally Kerrigan’s article “Writing is Thinking”, she was preaching the gospel truth. If one is a writer they are instantaneously a thinker. Writing is nothing more than articulately expressing ideas through words on paper. Kerrigan states, “[Writing] it forces you to go beyond the polite cocktail-party line you use to describe what you do and really think about the impact your work has.” With this in mind, I can certainly see how Mrs. Rainey, may have thought my research paper was “not written in my voice”.
I am not the best verbal communicator. Public speaking, professional interviews and even some day to day conversations with strangers terrifies me. I’ve come a long way from being drenched in sweat and nearly passing out by the end of a class presentation or interview, but it still sometimes gets the best of me, hurting my class presentation grade or not getting a call back from a potential employer. It’s a wonder I made it out of Public Speaking and have had any job on my resume. To stress my inability to effectively communicator, I’ve had many a falling out with friends, family and significant others from my improper word choice and my words being misconstrued entirely. Ironically, I’ve held a spot as a DJ for SCAD Atlanta Radio since 2012. But I suppose it’s not that ironic since I mostly play music and read from a book of PSAs every fifteen minutes. There’s no need for on the spot long winded inspirational responses and there’s not a one person staring back at me anticipating what I have to say. I’m literally just reading off information. This is why I’d be such a better speaker if life had a pause button.
If I could literally stop the world the next time an interviewer asks me, “Tell me about a time you encountered a difficult situation and how did you handle it?”, I would take out a pen and piece of paper and beautifully craft in words the time I worked as a book store clerk and calmed down an angry old man who had been overcharged for an item upon his last visit. What usually happens is I stall thinking of something to say and I eventually crack under the pressure of them awaiting my response. I eventually blurt out something totally jumbled and totally off topic and fail to answer the question altogether. I realize I’m never going to have that power so preparing for questions like these is probably my best bet. Although I can’t help but daydream about just how many lasting first impression I could make on people, if I just had a moment to think.
Writing is thinking, no doubt. With any creative project, I begin by writing a summary and a projected idea of the finished product. It’s thrilling finding words that accurately describe the concept I have in mind and further hashing out the details of my ideas and I continue to write. I’m essentially telling the story of my idea. This includes where it came from, why I feel it would be effective and taking a lyrical journey through the inspirations and influences I might have going into my thoughts on how I intend on executing the project. I’d much rather write a ten page research paper than compose fifty thumbnails sketches because I believe my ability to write is much stronger than my ability to shade and add perspective. In Writing is Thinking, Kerrigan states “Writing your ideas down gives you a particular new ownership over what you do. It examines all the “whys” of the job, turning entrenched habits into intentional actions. It equips you with the communication skills to sell yourself and your work to bosses and clients.” I couldn’t agree more. And while I may have not yet mastered the concept of the elevator speech or even articulate verbal communication, I trust that with the development of my writing skills I’ll one day be able to nail an elevator speech with a potential client, or at the very least avoid accidentally hurting someone’s feelings.