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I Was a Terrible Writer (and here's how I found my voice)

I was a terrible writer – and almost didn’t graduate from university.

No, for real.

When I finished high school, I thought I had my writing in the bag. I got A’s and confidently marched into Nipissing University looking to major in History and English.

But here’s the thing at Nipissing University – you had to write this written test to demonstrate your writing ability. And I kept failing it. You needed a 1 to pass and I kept getting a 2 or 3.

If you didn’t get a 1, you didn’t graduate.

I eventually got referred for tutoring and met weekly with a lovely lady named Georgina.

I was embarrassed. Frustrated. And university writing life was kicking my ass.

I began to classify myself as a terrible writer.

Until I found my own way to write.

Going into my fourth and final year, I applied for the campus newspaper editor position. Because the university at the time was so small, I earned the position (two words: DE-FAULT). I was responsible for collecting and laying out the content, and also wrote the newspaper’s editorial column.

My first column was titled, Don’t you hate pants? – an ode to Homer Simpson.

It was a ridiculous piece that had my friends and peers telling me how much they enjoyed it.

I think it’s because I wrote it as my true self. No room for academia or citations – just simple sentences strewn together in the first person.

I was hooked.

I got to story tell.

After four years of struggling, I finally found my voice.

I fell so hard in love with it that I nixed my plans to go into teacher’s college and enrolled in journalism school at Carleton University (where I also got my ass kicked. But in a passion-fueled way).

I have since remembered that, as a kid, I was always writing. I loved making up stories and putting pencil to paper. Using rulers to make the lines.

That campus newspaper job re-released a passion I had always had as a child but had been pushed aside while trying to keep up with academic writing.

What’s the lesson here?

Academia takes away all the fun?

Little girls quickly push their dreams aside?

One way isn’t the right way?

For me, it was all the above.

You don’t always have to do it one way, even if someone tells you it should be. In fact, your way is likely the best way that connects to your true, authentic self.

And it’s likely linked to the things you once loved doing as a child.

Do that thing.

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