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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

What is “good” writing, anyway?

Writing tends to get a bad rap. Think back to your childhood days, when an especially rowdy class period would earn kids a one-way ticket to an essay on respect. “Writing lines” has always been a go-to detention punishment. In fact, there’s a persistent culture of gatekeeping in writing, from its historic mystique to its unflinching grammar rules. This gatekeeping has discouraged those who believe themselves to be “bad writers” from taking their shot at expressing their inner thoughts and sharing their invaluable creativity and innovation. Maybe you count yourself among them. Today, I hope to convince you that this is untrue.

It’s easy to get caught up in the misconception that writing “well” is an unattainable goal for all except the golden few who are blessed with a natural gift. Many of us were raised to worship “proper” English. We’ve all encountered that one high school English teacher who corrects almost every turn of phrase we dare to utter in their class. The truth of the matter is, these grammar police ideals do far more harm than good. 

At its core, writing is about the expression of ideas. It’s a catalyst, a way for those who feel strongly about something to share their enthusiasm, disdain, fear, sadness, and beliefs. Spoken and written language is arguably the most important tenet of a free society. Literacy is such a powerful tool that it’s weaponized frequently. When terrorist or totalitarian regimes attempt to exercise control over a people, one of the first things to go is the ability to share the written word – that’s why right now in Iran, the internet and social media have been cut off by the government to silence the women in protest. 

On a smaller scale, writing can empower an individual. One way is through journaling. Journaling brings many awesome benefits, including the ability to organize thoughts, articulate feelings, and profess opinions without the threat of judgment. In addition, it’s an amazing way to tune into one’s innermost self. Not to mention the hilarity of reading old journal entries and laughing about what your 5th-grade self considered gross in the lunchroom. 
Clearly, writing holds a lot of power. That’s why it matters if YOU write – even if you’re thinking, I just need to finish my essay and move on with my life. Yes, submitting an essay on time is one reason to write, and I suggest you become open to many others, including speaking truth to power or finding the truth in yourself.

Ruby Farnham

Wisconsin '26

Hi! I’m Ruby Farnham, a managing editor for Her Campus WI. Originally from Superior, Wisconsin, I’m a sophomore at UW, studying Human Development and Communication Sciences. You could describe me as a feminist, a Swiftie, an optimist, a camp counselor, and of course a writer! Thank you for reading my articles.