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Academic Writing
Writing and Composition
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HSC Maharashtra Board

What are you learning about as you write?

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May 13, 2008 12:21PM

Why is writing important? OR 'Why do you have writing assignments?'

Writing doesn't just teach you the facts that you are looking up and writing down! Here are some other things you learn by writing:

  • how to express your ideas and feelings to communicate better
  • how to follow directions; this is used in every part of your life, from cooking with a recipe to putting together your kid's bicycle on Christmas eve
  • how to discipline yourself to do work; this is essential to keeping your job and making a good paycheck
  • how to put your thoughts into words to communicate better
  • how to summarize information that you have learned; this is a thinking skill that is useful in finding out what is important information and what is not.
  • how to paraphrase and explain; this is useful when communicating because people won't always understand the way you say something the first time.
  • how to think of different ideas, which helps you to solve problems by thinking of different ways of doing things.
  • how to observe the world around you so that you can describe it; observation is an essential life skill because people who notice things have an edge over people who never pay attention.
  • how different ways of saying something can have slightly different shades of meaning, and how to choose the best way to say what you mean
  • how to use scientific ways of thinking such as classifying or grouping, analysis, comparing and contrasting, concluding or summation, and testing different ways of doing things. These skills will help you to make decisions, solve problems, and handle whatever life throws at you.

And, of course ... you learn how to write a proper sentence!

Ultimately, writing is a form of communication. Everyone knows about writing to entertain, but it is also used to communicate descriptions, information, evaluations, persuade readers, and present solutions to problems. As consumers, we use this kind of information to decide where to vacation, what movie to see, which cars are reliable, and who we should vote for. Pretty important stuff.

Okay, I can here you saying now, "Yeah, but I'm not gonna do any of that for a living. Why do I have to learn how to write it then? This is stupid." Well, I can give you three really solid reasons why it's important to learn how to write.

1) Writing academically requires you to do a whole lot of critical thinking- you must decide whether your sources are credible and which ones are most relevant to your topic. You have to understand who your audience is and what they already know and what they need to know. Then you have to determine what kind of examples or facts will be the most meaningful for your readers (audience) and put it all into language that your audience will understand. Even if you're writing about why Moby Dick was the most horrendously boring book you ever were forced to read, you'll need all the skills I just mentioned so that you sound persuasive rather than just whiny.

2) In the "real" world, that is life outside of high school and college, you will have to research information. Don't think so? Okay, how will you know what car is safe, reliable, affordable, and doesn't cost and arm and a leg to insure? Research. How will you convince your parents to help you pay for this vehicle? - Present reliable evidence to your audience (your parents) that shows that buying this car will be a win-win situation for all of you. How will you persuade your parents of all of this, besides the stunningly obvious facts you've presented them with? You'll put your request in language that is mature, objective, and shows you value their intelligence and maturity. You will have learned how to do all this, in part, by having learned to write academically.

Bonus- all the things in #2 also hold true for the way you present yourself in cover letters, in job interviews, in meetings with employers or customers, communicating with co-workers, etc.

3) This is an internet savvy world. There are on-line job sites, networking sites, and social sites. Current and prospective employers DO look you up and see what you've written on the web. There have been very public cases of young adults losing their jobs because of the content on their web pages. Sure, some of it was due to the pictures on in, but the words that went with the pictures were the proverbial nails in the coffin. These young adults FAILED to consider that their audience would be someone other than their best buds. Imagine an employer reading your meandering rants where the ideas are disorganized, poorly worded, and full of profanity, spelling errors, and grammar not previously used in the English language. Just the first impression you were hoping to make, no doubt.

Again, I can hear you saying, "Yeah, right. Like writing a research paper on the Ottoman Empire is gonna help with any of this crap." My answer? "You betcha'!" At the very least, learning to write academically will help you develop the self-discipline and work ethic that will help carry you through meetings that are a zillion times more boring than any book you were forced to read and to complete mind numbingly dull tasks/reports that your employer will require you to do, even if you're working at Kwik-Fill.




Writing is important to express your feelings and to make it simple so that others can understand you better. It doesn't matter if you have mistakes or grammatical errors. That's how you learn and also writing helps to apply for jobs etc. But if you want to start, start by how your day was and so on.