8 You Don’t Need Credentials To Be a Writer

Amy Cedeno

Wattpad, Kindle, Google Books are apps where readers can immerse themselves into a different world—created by people that want to provide that escape of reality. I was fascinated by the books I would read in the Wattpad app during middle school. Teenagers wrote these books just like me. I could resonate with the themes, plot, and overflowing drama that was happening. But for me, these teenagers were real authors. In my mind, I could never compare myself to them; I thought I would never reach the level of creativity needed to write these books. The demand to obtain this high-quality paper with big, bold letters with my name saying, “This person is now allowed to write books.” That thought diminished all of my efforts to open a blank page and start writing. Credentials are not needed for a person to be a writer because writing will always be complicated, complex, exhausting, and no credentials would change anything about it.

To clarify this dilemma, I would like to say that everyone who wishes to write is merit to be called a writer. To speak in front of an audience about a specific topic—politics, engineering, agriculture, credentials are necessary. The main reason for this is people’s perspective; what makes a writer worthy of having the essence to produce marvelous papers, speeches? The first thing that college students need to write is to believe in the idea that they can write. The pencil and pen are the helping hands to create tangible ideas, and everything else is semantics.

Ronald Clark Brooks tells us that credentials are validated only when speaking and teaching in a specific authority field. In making this comment, Brooks urges that “The kind of credentials that one gets to speak authoritatively about a field—whether that field is literature, film, cultural studies, creative writing, linguistics, or even the often now widely divergent fields of composition, rhetoric, and literacy studies—those need to be set apart…To expand [the] belief beyond the classroom…that everyone’s experience and perspective is already worth writing about as soon they arrive in the classroom” (61). We need to disregard the idea that because credentials are required to speak in a specific field, everyone else’s opinions and statements should be deemed ignoble.

Brooks mentioned that there seems to be some sort of fear when it comes to the writing community. A cluster of people radiating anxiety for the unforeseen future of writers. To know that we will never be correct, and to show authenticity in our writing. A quote by Barbara Sher, a speaker, career/lifestyle coach, and author, resonates with this comment, “There’s no one in the world who can do what you can do, who can think and see the way you do, who can create what you can create.”

I want to emphasize a quote that Brooks articulates is the idea that everyone can write. No matter where we are in the cycle of what writing is, “Believing that everyone can write is simply starting with the idea that even though writing is complex, sometimes difficult, infinitely varied and variable, and dependent on rhetorical context, everyone is able to start somewhere in the process, and only from that ground can one unlock the potential to do it well” (61), for this to become a possibility, an environment where positive support and constructive criticism is being provided to students. Tim Fountain, a British author, and playwriter illustrates some of Peter Elbow’s works, who wrote: “Everyone Can Write.” Fountain elucidates the idea of Freewriting, “Elbow [stress] that writers must begin to trust they’re intuitive and felt senses and their “natural” human tendencies and perceptions enough to bring them into view.” In other words, having the ability to just write about whatever we touch upon can help us appreciate our surroundings, “a means for written expression to become more natural for individuals.” Freewriting will make our ideas tangible, and for that to happen, we first need to believe that we can write.

To prevent a wall in between our ability to write, we first need to not depend too much on credentials when beginning the first phase of our writing. That should never stop us from writing. Second is the environment we surround ourselves in; participating in a writing community where validation occurs upon showing credentials should be prohibited. Unless talking about a specific field, the views of others when it comes to our writing should not be of importance (except for constructive criticism). Lastly, we need to believe in the idea that we can write. Freewriting, research your topic, note that first sentence. The only person who can stop us from writing is ourselves.

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Good Ideas About Writing by Amy Cedeno is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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