I HATED writing when I was a kid

I tried writing a book once when I was like 8. It was hard, so I gave up after 20 minutes.

(I didn’t really understand the process back then.)


School writing assignments were a nightmare. I still have this enormous chip in my shoulder from struggling so much. Fifth grade journal entries, sixth grade essay prompts, ninth grade Shakespeare homework, eleventh grade AP English: I couldn’t get words on the page.

When I started high school my mom told me she would stop asking my teachers for deadline extensions. It was my responsibility now. I was already embarrassed to have my mom intervening so much anyway, I wanted to be independent. But never in all those years of deadline extensions, missed lunches, staying after school did anyone suspect any neurodivergence. I was gifted, I couldn’t have ADHD. (This is actually called twice exceptional and I hope teachers and parents are better at identifying it nowadays.)

Compared to my high school peers with brilliant upper-middle class college-educated parents and daily homework help, I was weaksauce.

It turned out that high school AP English teachers’ standards were ridiculously high, and I ended up improving a lot by the time I started college. The weekly crying sessions while I fought for control of my brain kinda paid off. At UCSB I was much better prepared for university-level writing than the majority of freshman I met.

By the end of my sophomore year I was churning out social science papers like a pro. One professor wrote that I had “mastered the social science genre” as part of her feedback. Complete 180 degree turn around.

Lessons learned

The main two lessons I learned were:

  • diligent > gifted in the long run
  • I should let go of my fixed mindset

I think I’ll add a whole post on fixed vs. growth mindsets at some point. I’ll probably reread Carol Dweck’s Mindset for that.

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Software engineer, armchair novelist

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