English Studies High Plains Region Society Wide Writing

4 Ways Writing Unlocks the World

Writing opens the door to infinite opportunities. Keep reading to see how my experience with writing as a creative writing student, English instructor, and Sigma Tau Delta member has unlocked the world for me.

Shannon Nakai-Writing1. Sharing Cultural Perspectives

From a writer’s perspective, I cherish both the labor and fruits of writing for the stories they reap. As a current English instructor, I read journal entries and essays by dozens of students each semester and learn that nearly everyone has something to add to the human narrative. (That’s one reason I love reading the Humans of New York and spinoff Humans of Sigma Tau Delta articles.) The human population is diverse and teeming with ideas and different ways to interpret life, through culture and communication. The literature and poetry they produce serves as a threshold between cultures and time periods; from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Salman Rushdie or Marilynne Robinson (personal favorites), the stories reflect thoughts, experiences, traditions (and the challenges of).

2. Building Relationships

Writing also serves as a means of connection. In an age when we are exposed to information constantly through social media and news, from the microcosmic level of our friends’ lives and community events to a broader exchange through globalization, writing channels this dissemination of ideas. We can join an international discourse of literature, politics, medicine, technology, and so forth. As a teacher, I help develop the voices of the next generation of young professionals. Whether they pursue academics or not, they are equipped to articulate their ideas, formulate projects, request funding, document research, and problem solve.

3. Accelerating Careers

Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey-Writing
Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Turkey

After graduation, I had the fantastic opportunity to be a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey. To achieve this high accomplishment, I had to communicate both my abilities and my reasons for obtaining government funds to live and work abroad for a year. Having honed an articulate and representative voice on paper, I could explain my interest in working with people from particular regions of the world, the skills I had to offer, and future goals. When I returned to the States, I faced the harsh reality of an anemic job market. In an age when everything is going digital, I knew I would not get a phone call or an initial interview with companies; the only way potential employers would “meet” me was through my writing. I had to give a virtual “introduction” of myself through e-mails and cover letters, as will many future graduates. I had to find a way to adhere to structure and simultaneously be unique and memorable. While the world of job-hunting can be hit-or-miss, I was able to attain an incredible internship with an independent publishing company, whose editor was in Berlin at the time. Through writing, we forged a relationship that led to a wonderful and marketable experience.

4. Engendering Multi-Modal Creativity

Charles Baxter and Shannon Nakai-Writing
Charles Baxter and Shannon Nakai

While not everyone feels compelled to write the next great American novel, I see a growing trend in writing as the vessel for self-expression and -exploration: the number of blogs chronicling life events, the articles people write—whether free-lance or professional—innovative forms of poetry, creative screenplays or teleplays, songwriting, journaling, as well as the publication of short stories and novels, give rise to a burgeoning market for independent and self-publishing companies. Getting one’s ideas “out there” can lead to change, as well as exciting opportunities for the writer! Sigma Tau Delta’s international convention, for one, is a storehouse of ideas and creativity, where writers across the globe converge with essays, stories, poems, and roundtable discussions on various topics, as well as meet other famous writers! (I had the privilege of meeting Charles Baxter at the 2016 Convention in Minneapolis.)

Writing is a legacy we’ve inherited from a vast canon of culture and narratives; in this generation we will each find a way to add our voice and story using the constantly changing but time-old medium of writing.

SNakaiShannon Nakai
Student Representative, High Plains Region, 2015-2016
Alpha Theta Omicron Chapter
Wichita State University, Wichita, KS

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