Letter to the Writer Who Doesn’t Know Where to Start

Dear Writer,

You aren’t alone. I never have any idea where to start. I’m supposed to write this encouraging blog to writers who don’t know where to start, and the only thing I can come up with is just…

In the words of Shia LaBeouf, “Just…. Do it!”

Writing is a lot like running. You have to get into the groove before it starts to be fun.  It takes practice, it takes work, and it takes planning. Starting is always the hardest part because either you don’t want to endure the pain to begin with, or you don’t know what you’ll do if it doesn’t turn out like you hope. Or maybe you don’t even know how to start!

Unfortunately, as many college students find, professors require papers to be written. If writing isn’t one of your hobbies, you probably feel much like I do when I try to run. But as with every skill, it cannot develop until it is used. Sometimes, it’s not fun until you can write what you want and at the skill level you want.

Writing is a strange form of art. It constantly develops, and if your writing skills grow, so does the writing. The important thing is that we begin. Thoughts are, from the start, rough and undefined. Have you ever been in a situation where your mind races far faster than you can put words to the thoughts? Even when we have time to sit and think, it is often difficult to place words to the ideas and emotions we feel. Writing can clarify those thoughts, but in order for them to mature, they must be placed upon the page.

Writing, therefore, is the art of development, not only for the writing itself, but also for our way of thinking. The time it takes to ponder and develop these words often causes us to realize new facets of our argument or flaws in our logic. It can deepen our understanding when, otherwise, we might have left such things behind with a brief glance.

But we must also consider things like grammar when speaking of writing. While we might understand our line of thought completely, and have developed it through exhaustive practice and writing, we must also be sure that others understand the ideas being presented. Therefore, while it might seem irritating and unneeded, grammar further aids us in the growth not only of our own thoughts but our communication as well.

To develop communication skills, you talk to people. Similarly, with written communication skills, the conversation needs to start before the writing gets better. It doesn’t have to start with the deep stuff first. A lot of people like small talk, at least until they get used to a situation.

I write as a hobby, but here’s something I don’t often share: I don’t usually enjoy the process. Sure, when a scene plays out perfectly, the words come easily, and my thoughts come smoothly, it’s fun. But more often than I’d like, writing is like pulling teeth. But the thoughts and ideas I’ve put onto paper would never have been shared if I had not taken time to sit and just… start. Maybe I’ll go back and reword things later on. It is one of my dreams to eventually publish a fantasy novel of my own.

If I hadn’t taken the risk of starting, or taken the risk of showing others my story and being disappointed, I would’ve never gotten so much written. I’m over sixty pages, and that’s a phenomenal personal achievement. I’d never gotten more than two pages in any other story before I started forcing myself to write whatever was there. Many scenes in my head turned out better on paper, and even better when my friends enjoyed reading them! I was very not skilled when I began. But, again, in the words of Shia LaBeouf, “don’t let your dreams be dreams!” And so my slightly masochistic attempt at achieving those dreams actually produced something.

So, I will say to you, don’t let your dreams be dreams. You can finish that paper! You can write that blog, that lab report, or that book report. Don’t let your dreams of freedom elude you! If I can write my story, you can write that assignment! Start with a few sentences, which don’t even have to be about your project. Maybe write about your day. Work on getting your thoughts clear. And then…

“Just… do it!”

Written by Isaac

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