Hope Tolbert
By: Hope Tolbert
February 23, 2018

The Importance of Personal Writing

For some of us, writing is something to check off the to-do list.  Writing may simply seem like a necessary evil.

However, I think every homeschool student has the potential to love writing.  How? By writing even more.

Let me explain.

My mom was determined that all eight of her kids would be creative. When I was a baby, she would give me a pile of crayons and tape paper to my highchair. As a result, I learned to draw before I learned to walk.

When I turned seven, my parents decided I should start taking art lessons. Every Tuesday, I was sent to a local watercolor artist’s house. We sat at a beautifully engraved table in her lush garden while butterflies drifted by and a striped kitten sat at my feet. During my first lesson, she taught me how to paint a tree properly.

I hated it.

I hated it so much, I begged my parents to let me stay home on Tuesdays. They assured me I would love it soon enough.

I didn’t.

They finally ended my lessons when I stopped painting at home. For years, I was convinced that I loved drawing, but painting was not for me.

When I was sixteen, I found a palette of cheap watercolors at my house. Bored, I grabbed a box of Q-tips to use as brushes and painted a quirky little picture of a girl holding a rabbit.

I loved it.

Already addicted, I went straight to the art department at my high school for a crash course on mixing colors. Within a week, the art teacher proclaimed the pieces I had created were the best she had ever seen in all her years of teaching.

The following year, I was enrolled in invitation-only studio classes. I painted so much that my hands were calloused and stained. Eventually, my pieces were displayed in local galleries.

I became passionate about painting even though I had previously hated it. The problem was never that I wasn’t the painting type or that I painted too much as a girl. The problem was that I never spent time on personal projects.

As it turns out, painting is a lot like writing.

When we reduce writing to fulfilling class requirements or any of its more pragmatic uses, it becomes dull.

Even I find writing unexciting if I don’t spend time on personal projects.

While studying English in college, I got sick of writing rather quickly.

Ironically, I found that writing even more for myself kept me from being burnt out by my coursework. Though I had a mountain of essays to write, I stayed up late every night writing poems, short stories, and even screenplays.

As a result, assigned writing became more enjoyable. Instead of merely fulfilling class requirements, I was sharpening skills I used in my personal life. Remembering everything I was taught became easier because I genuinely wanted to improve.

Additionally, some of the pieces I’ve written for myself have become my dearest treasures. If I didn’t spend time writing for myself in college, I wouldn’t have the poems I wrote about my husband when we first fell in love.

If you find yourself uninspired or frustrated while writing an assignment, try writing for yourself. It doesn’t matter what it is: a poem, a memory, a story, or even a song.

Here are few ideas to get you started:

  • Keep a journal by your bed. Write the last thing you think about before falling asleep or your dreams when you wake up.
  • Write a story you would have enjoyed as a child.
  • Sit in your favorite place at home and describe everything around you.
  • Write whatever you want.

Write poorly. Write secretly. Write however you want. Just write.

Even if it never sees the light of day, you’ll capture a piece of yourself in the here and now. You might even fall in love with writing.


By Hope Tolbert

Curriculum Creator at Essentials in Writing