Learning like Sisyphus

by | Sep 19, 2021

Writing is the bane of my fucking life. One of my first memories of school is arguing with my teacher about some writing assignment where we had to write about what we wanted to do when we were older.

“Ms. Huggins,” I said, “why do we have to do this?”

“Because this is our assignment for right now,” she responded.

“But how am I supposed to know what I want to do?” I asked.

“What do you like?” she replied.

“I dont like writing,” were the last words that came out of my mouth before I got sent out of the class.


I was never a good kid, but I was also never a bad kid. I always straddled the line between the two. Most of my fights with teachers came from missing assignments, a majority of which were writing based. When I finally got to choose classes in high school my first and most important criteria was how much writing was involved. Once, in 10th grade, I changed English classes on the first day because the syllabus the teacher laid out had too much writing for my taste.

So, I shot myself in the foot.

While teachers where hammering proper writing technique into my classmates heads I was sitting there thinking about how much I hated writing. This screwed me over because now that Id given up the fight against writing I dont have the skills or knowledge to write comfortably. I dont instinctively know what good writing is for me. I can hear it in others work but I can’t tell what my good writing sounds like. Every paper that I write sounds awful. Practically all of the lines I write feel wrong. To make it all worse I second guess myself so much that essays take forever to write and I spend extra time on something I hate.

“But Max,” I  hear you say, “why do you hate writing so much?”

Well, dear reader, I dont fucking know.

Thats the worst part about it. If my hatred stemmed from a place that I understood, I would be able to combat it or work against it, but I cant. The best way I can respond to that question is this; I hate writing because it does not have a concrete solution. There is no answer, no exact method or exact formula to solve or complete. Teachers have tried with me throughout the years to work around this but each of them tried something different. Let me use an analogy, once you are taught the Pythagorean Theorem (a² + b² = c ²) you have learned it, no future math teacher will come up to you are say, “Here is the new Pythagorean Theorem; a² + c² = b².” If they did, they should be fired. That’s what it felt like for me when I was being taught to write. One year a teacher would teach the point-evidence-explain method for structuring a paragraph then the next year another teacher would say, “No no no! You need to link at the end.” Then the next year someone else would say, “Why are you doing this? This is so basic! Go try this other obscure thing.” I felt like I had found a building block to improve on and then it would be stripped away the next year to be replaced with a new skill. It was like playing a new round of Jenga every year.

One thing that didn’t help was my dysgraphia. For those of you who don’t know dysgraphia is a condition where you are unable to concentrate as easily along with a difficulty writing that also leads to terrible handwriting. It was a massive relief when I was diagnosed. Unfortunately, the diagnoses came late in life, at age 16, which meant that I spent years having teachers punish me and berate me for my piss poor handwriting or my lack of focus. I spent countless parent teacher meetings listening to teachers telling my parents about the latest time that I disrupted the class or about the essay they couldn’t read because of my hand writing. When asked why I couldn’t write cleaner or pay attention all I could respond with was, “I don’t know.” There were countless times when I would lay staring up at the ceiling wondering what was wrong with me. I think that this combined with the fact that English classes give you awful, timed essays that are exactly the opposite of what someone with dysgraphia needs led to my hatred of writing.

To this day I still hate writing, but Ive learned to actually get the work done. Its a pain and makes me feel like Sisyphus, destined to push the current assignment until it’s done only to have another waiting for me the next morning. Unlike Sisyphus I feel the load lightening. Every assignment takes less energy, not much less but still less. I doubt that Ill ever make it to the point where I enjoy writing, but I may make it to the point where it doesnt hurt anymore.