Why Bloggers Love to Write {Even If They Hated English Class}

Whenever I visit blogs, I often read the following confessions:

• It’s ironic that I want to write a blog because I never enjoyed my English classes.
• I was so happy when I finished my last English class.
• I always hated writing papers in school.
• I’m nervous about writing a blog because I didn’t do well in my English classes.

The desire to write a blog seems to contradict an earlier aversion to writing in an English class. And this apparent paradox undermines the confidence of today’s blogger.

But there’s a reason why bloggers love to write, even if they hated their English classes.

In recent decades, the educational system has elevated scientific objectivism to the point where anything deemed “subjective” is considered synonymous with “inferior.” Research papers require hard facts and verifiable evidence.

Under no circumstances should a writer use the personal pronoun “I.”

Teachers penalize students with poor grades if they begin phrases with “I believe” or “I think.” They label such phrases as “subjective thinking,” which, of course, has no place in a scientific paper.

While this impersonal, objective approach may be appropriate for a scientific research paper, it impairs students from experiencing a genuine encounter with the craft of writing.

Denied their own voice, students are left with a writing experience that’s dry and lifeless.

Writing is a generative process. The act of writing generates ideas whereby the writer can explore his or her thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Through the act of writing, writers discover more about themselves by putting words and meaning to previously nebulous ideas and feelings.

Bloggers already know this to be true, even if they didn’t know what to call it.

Bloggers don’t have to ask, “May I use the personal pronoun ‘I’?” And this is why bloggers have discovered the joy of writing, even if they once hated their English classes.

Were you ever told to avoid the personal pronoun “I”?

* Thankfully, we English teachers are beginning to remedy this in our classrooms.

In fact, I had my college freshmen students start a blog as part of their writing assignments. I gave them weekly writing prompts, and they got to read and comment on their classmates’ responses to the same prompts.

Yes, they still had to write a good old-fashioned research paper with proper citations and formatting, but they also experienced the freedom that comes when writing with their own voice for an audience of their peers.

* * * * *

For anyone interested in improving their craft, I highly recommend On Writing Well by William Zinsser. He was truly a writer ahead of his time. Just read what he had to say, in 1976, about the personal pronoun “I.”

“Writers are obviously at their most natural when they write in the first person. Writing is an intimate transaction between two people, conducted on paper, and it will go well to the extent that it retains its humanity. Therefore I urge people to write in the first person: to use ‘I’ and ‘me’ and ‘we’ and ‘us.'” (20)

15 thoughts on “Why Bloggers Love to Write {Even If They Hated English Class}

  1. Hi Denise,
    Great post. (And I’m afraid this comment’s going to be long. But (sigh) here goes anyway…)

    I love the freedom in blog writing, too — for different reasons. I really disliked my English classes through public school, too, although I had a penchant for scribbling out little stories, poems and such in my own secret haven at home. It just seemed to be a lot of dry grammar and formula writing — until my senior year. My teacher that year did the unthinkable: she gave me a report card C (or was it just a B?) when I was absolutely sure I “deserved” an A (and technically did.) When I questioned why, she said because I was capable of so much more! What? Well, I didn’t think THAT was fair, and it made me mad! So mad I determined to do so well next marking period that she could no way deny me that A!

    What that did was force me to look deeply at good lit and figure out what the author was doing… then do it, too. My writing was no longer about filling in the formula or organizing, spelling, and punctuating perfectly, but getting power into my pen. (And when you analyze the best writers, what you find almost always is that they’re masters at “breaking the rules”… -smile.)

    I got the A, by the way. And the next year in college, I had a GOOD comp prof — demanding, but in a different way. He wanted more than your academic paper stuff. He wanted to see some life in our writing. Most of the other students didn’t “get” what he was after, and he only gave one A in each of his comp classes. Guess who got one — because of that high school teacher I got mad at? (Glad I got the chance to thank her later. 🙂

    Biggest hindrance to “real” writing that I find now? Writer’s conferences and such, where you get so much of “writing to the market” and “what publishers want.” Just to write your heart out and have somebody else end up reading it almost requires a different venue. Blogging. That’s why I not only enjoy blog writing, but also blog READING. It’s got a quality “writing to the market” (or the publishers’ marketing committee) seldom has.

    (Apologies for length. God bless you, sister Christian and real writer!)

  2. Good Evenin’ Denise! I’m a brand new writer and learning as I go. I think I say, “I think” a lot too! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, I may look into grabbing that book! ~ Blessings, Amy

  3. I actually loved my English classes so kudos to all English teachers! Now when I blog though, I break so many rules that I learned. But since it’s about communicating, not rule-keeping, I get over it. 🙂 Great post.

    • Yay! I’m so glad. I had a few I enjoyed. And a few I didn’t enjoy. Part of it also depended upon the season of life I was in at the time. And I know what you mean about breaking the rules. It’s “about communicating, not rule-keeping.” Amen!

  4. I think my daughter is encouraged to write freely much more than when I was in school. Yes, she still has to write specific assignments, but the class also has writing journals and a time of writing called “Being a Writer” where they are given a topic or type of writing to prompt them. I don’t remember doing this in school, but maybe I’ve just forgotten. She loves it. But then she’s always liked to write. Like mother, like daughter, I guess. 🙂

  5. Denise, you have given me some clarity today, thank you. I write features for different publications and though I love the interviews and learning about people, I really don’t enjoy writing the articles. My husband even asked me if it is worth doing because he knows this. I do it because it is good to get editted by someone, do interviews and write differently to stay on top of my game. But when you take your own voice out of something it does fell lifeless. It was like a light bulb moment reading this. And I love that book. I return to it over and over again, one of my favorites. He wrote a fabulous book on writing memoir too.

    • Yes! I too like his book on writing a memoir. And you’re right about staying on top of your game. Versatility in writing is a definite advantage, even if some genres aren’t our favorite. Thank you for your encouraging words.

  6. Yes! And yes again! You said… “Denied their own voice, students are left with a writing experience that was dry and lifeless.” There are many classrooms and family situations where voice is denied. It is worth the effort to find it again, letting God almost teach me how to speak as if for the first time. Thank you for this post!

    • Thank you, Robin. I appreciate how you included that classrooms aren’t the only place where we are sometimes denied our voice. It’s so true. I pray that God will continue to bless you as you use your own voice more and more!

  7. Very interesting! I used to struggle every time I put “I” in a blogpost. I don’t know when the weight was lifted, but it sure feels good! It is so nice to write what I think rather than what “one would think.”

    • “One would think . . . ” or “It is believed that . . . ”

      These are wordy, clunky phrases that we’ve been “taught” to use, even to our own detriment as writers! I’m so thankful, Tereasa, that you’ve found your voice and are writing your story!

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