Lessons High School Taught Me About Writing Pt2

This is the second installment from the article Lessons High School Taught Me About Writing.


So much of High School is spent worrying about what others think. This insecurity holds most teenagers back and prevents them from putting themselves out there. The Internet has created a level playing field of sorts for the time being and there is no better time to put your skills out into the real world. In high school we have the financial and emotional support of family and teachers to back you up and we find out very quickly the friends that choose to follow you and support you are the sort of people you should be surrounding yourself with anyway. The same goes with writing. Put yourself out there – it literally can’t hurt.


When I was in my senior year I sat next to a kid who had no interest in the subject and who couldn’t care less if he passed or failed. In fact he seemed almost intent on dragging me down with him. And I let him. The boy wasn’t even a friend of mine and yet I didn’t have the guts to tell him to go away: to leave me alone, to grow up. The consequences weren’t good. Writing, like study often requires a distraction free environment. Friends, social networking, the television and so on, can drag us down. Avoid such distractions.


School hasn’t changed much since it was invented during the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago. Today society still gathers together groups of children and places them in front of a solitary teacher. A situation like that requires strict behaviour control and severely restricts opportunities for to demonstrate individual flair and creative energy. Writing is restricted only by the boundaries of our mind and we have the scope to create far beyond what the classroom gave us. We should avail ourselves of the opportunity.


Teachers are nothing more than guides. They help shorten the time it takes to walk a path but the destination is still of your choosing. A great student with initiative and drive will succeed regardless of the teacher they have. Great writers are just like great students, they don’t just rely on someone else for their research, skills or advice. The ultimate responsibility for our words comes down to us.


I am sure most of us look back on our school years and remember, with a shudder, the trends that came and went. The fashions and the crazes that swept through our classes were as powerful as they were brief. As a writer we can try to ride the fickle waves of writing trends and experience the crazy highs as well as the shuddering impact of being dumped on a coral sand bar. Or we can stick to the timeless classics and utilise consistency and style that has proven its worth over time. The second option will win out time and time again.