On the Fear of Writing :: Thoughts from SGA

*part of the "Thoughts from SGA" Blog series

Confession from an architecture student
On the fear of writing 

I’ve always found it difficult to write. Drawing, making, imagining… I can do with no hesitation, but pen to paper, keyboard to computer, and words to sentences…. Those types of skill escape me. There is a certain bravery associated with writing. A written work, be it a blog post or book (and anything in between) represents a person’s ideas. Those ideas are published into the world and welcome the opinions of readers. A person must be vulnerable enough to allow their words to be read and then discussed. Words are deeply personal. Even the way they are written is judged (think the expression: Its not what you are saying, but how you are saying it). Writing, with the exception of speaking, is the clearest and most literal of communication. Of course great poets, philosophers, and writers know how to use words in abstracted forms, but generally speaking, writing is literal.

It may come as no surprise to you that I am a visual thinker. Like many of us at the BAC, I pride myself on the communicative power of my drawings and diagrams, and take great pleasure in creating them. In school, we are taught to abstract our ideas and make them understandable. Through visual representation we can tell a tale of a project and speak (much to many of our delight) as little as possible. Let the drawings do the talking, don’t over explain, don’t be too simple, and always leave room for interpretation. Because of course, if a critique praises an idea which wasn’t particularly your intention, who hasn’t used a little reverse engineering to entertain their thoughts?

Someone once told me that the best way to get noticed is to write. It seems counter-intuitive for architecture school, but maybe its not. No matter how clear a drawing or precise a diagram, these are still an abstraction of our intention. A sure fire way to be completely transparent is to write. I do believe transparency has its place in architecture, but if you want people to understand and remember what your ideas are, write them down.

Which is why I’m writing here and now. I love architecture and love thinking about architecture. If anything writing is a depository of thoughts on the subject; A place to store them, a place for them to be vulnerable and open to critique. I’m still uncomfortable with my ideas living here and open to the world, but I’ve decided to step outside my comfort-zone and let them be free from me. Just as I believe architecture is as alive as I am, I’m intrigued by the power of communicating architecture by writing.


Nicole Pearson