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How I Write and Learn

Uniqueness in Writing

By Hope, a Writing Coach

What makes me a unique writer?

This is a question I ask myself often. As an identical twin, saying that I have gone through a bit of an identity crisis is an understatement. I am constantly confronted with the reality of my own uniquenesses, or the lack thereof, especially when it comes to writing.

On the right is Hope, and on the left is her twin sister.
Me and my twin sister: guess who’s who?

As I began to write essays for my UNC application, I worried a lot about not being admitted. I had all the usual worries: “What if I didn’t do enough extracurricular activities?” “What if I had taken more honors classes?” Yet, the biggest “what if” of all was “What if I’m not unique?”

I compared myself to my sister a lot. As I was filling out the application, I began thinking about all of our similarities, and my fears were amplified. We went to the same school, did almost all of the same extracurricular activities, had very similar grades, and had all the same identifying information. All of this was represented with flying colors in our applications, from the resumes all the way down to birth dates (of course).

So, with all of these similarities between my twin and me, I had to rely on something in order to make myself unique: the essays. I found that the freedom allotted by the written portions of the application was an opportunity to stand apart from my sister.

Throughout the whole process of writing these essays, I knew one thing, which was that I wanted to truly and fully represent myself on the page. To that point, I found that a certain few aspects of my writing really gave me the opportunity to find and display my uniqueness.

  1. The ideas that I used: While I was brainstorming what I would want to write my essays about, I began thinking about events, people, experiences, and objects that were important in my life and that were specific to me. I looked to write about ideas that were out-of-the-box and personal. I found that even if my sister and I wrote about the same event, we chose a different take away from it or a different aspect of that event to write about.
  2. The language that I used: As I wrote, I also considered the language and style that I used. For example, I focused on incorporating my favorite punctuation marks. Through this, I learned that I am a lover of commas and dashes, while my sister is more likely to use a semicolon. As someone who likes poetry, I also chose to focus more stylistically on metaphors and the rhythm of my writing.

After using these strategies, when the time came for my sister and I to read each other’s essays, I saw that they were much more different than I had anticipated. My sister and I were two people staring at a blank page, but we both turned those pages into reflections of our individuality.

I found that in centering myself in my writing, by writing about what was important to me in a way that was important to me, I inherently became unique. We were – and still are – different people, with different perspectives and opinions, and that was able to shine through in written format.

An anonymous quote says “Be bold or italic. Never regular.”
Aptly, this is one of my favorite quotes.

Now, as undergraduate students at UNC, my sister and I have both chosen to major in English. Yet, with all of the writing that comes along with the English major, I have learned to see blank pages as opportunities for uniqueness and to see writing as a creative space for this. What I have come to realize is that, in a sea of writers whose veins bleed Carolina blue, I should not worry about what makes me different from my sister, let alone anyone else. Instead of being stressed about that, I have learned that I can refocus that energy on accurately and honestly representing myself through my writing. This has given me more confidence going into future applications for jobs and academic essays for courses.

After all, if there are differences between myself and my identical sister, there’s bound to be differences between myself and everyone else!

This blog showcases the perspectives of UNC Chapel Hill community members learning and writing online. If you want to talk to a Writing and Learning Center coach about implementing strategies described in the blog, make an appointment with a writing coach or an academic coach today. Have an idea for a blog post about how you are learning and writing remotely? Contact us here.

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