Every year, I tell myself to try new activities on campus. Truth be told, I don’t always keep up with this promise. However, I feel like I’ve found my place this year by writing for the Odyssey.
I have always identified as a writer. Even when I was younger, I would fill up notebooks with my scribbles of fiction and fantasy stories in hopes of actually creating something concrete in the future. I loved (and still love) the feel of stationary, the abundance of new pens on my desk, and the piles of sticky notes just waiting to be used when I come up with new ideas. Not only are all these materials necessary for actually writing, but of course, they all have that aesthetic, artistic appeal too.
During the busy semesters I’ve been at Tufts, I’ve kept empty spare notebooks on my bookshelf, just in case I strike up the inspiration to write. However, I fall into that same trap that so many others find themselves in – I never forced myself enough to put aside time to do the thing I loved the most. As much as I didn’t want to, I was compromising a lot of my insanity and the joy I got from writing to stay up late and work on class assignments. Now, I’m not saying that I could have blown off everything I had to do, but I thought, maybe if I had allotted my time a little more effectively, I would be able to write at least a little bit for myself every day.
I had heard about the Tufts Odyssey team from the Facebook posts on class pages, but what followed is what inevitably happens when I don’t follow up on something immediately during the semester – my thought of applying got lost in the mess of assignments and papers. I found other ways of expressing myself; I joined Spoken Word at Tufts (SWAT) and found a really great community of peers to share my thoughts and pieces. Still, I felt like I could do a little more for myself and commit to writing in a different style than what I usually do.
In the middle of this summer, I saw a posting on the Tufts Class of 2018 page to join the Odyssey writing team. I figured, going into my test-based junior year, writing more often is definitely something I could be doing for myself outside of class. I decided to apply and join, and begin building my writing portfolio with the weekly articles I publish.
Since joining, I have built a collection of articles that connected me to people who I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunities to talk with otherwise. Above all, I appreciate the chance to write often with the guarantee of sharing ideas with many people. Here are a few of the other ways that writing for the Odyssey has changed my outlook on life, and what writing has taught me.
1) Be curious; it is amazing what you can learn if you look at the world as if everything is new.
Do you remember the times you were younger and you looked at everything with that wonder if your eyes and how everything amazed you? It even seems a little silly to me as I write this, but if you try, even for a little bit, to examine the world as if everything is unique and new to you, you may find some inspiration in what you learn. I learned this trick from also being a poet when I look for metaphors to include in my pieces.
2) Ask more questions, but also take the time to listen and understand.
I don’t know if it’s just from being on campus and being in academic-mode so often, but I found that sometimes, when I ask questions, I already feel like I know the answer and I try to hasten the other person’s response. I guess I’ve always been one to rush around a lot, and I found that I applied those things to how I was having conversations with others. Searching for inspiration to write has taught me to slow down a little more, and to take the time to hear other people’s thoughts, because I could always learn and find something to write about from the conversation as well.
3) Take the time to ACTUALLY read other writers' blogs (no more tl;dr shortcuts).
I know this one is hard to do, but again with thinking about how attributing to our lack of engagement to how little time we have – that can be fixed if time is effectively allotted. I am not simply suggesting that anything over 20 minutes needs to be put aside to read articles on the Internet (but hey, if you do that, all the better for you!), but even reading other authors’ articles can make you a better writer and also make you think about different situations in new ways. I also find reading other people’s articles also gives me insight on new ways to phrase something, which is always helpful as someone who is always writing.
4) It keeps me on schedule.
I know one of my biggest annoyances during the semester is the reality that I have to be staring at my laptop to do my work for many hours of the day. Unfortunately, there aren’t any ways for me to fix that, but I do know that most times, my screen time is extended because I also waste time browsing the Internet. Knowing that I have weekly deadlines to meet for the Odyssey forces me to not do that, and write up an article instead so I know I have something to submit for the week. Afterwards, since I know I put a good amount of time to write, I feel more motivated to stay on track with my assignments and not let myself procrastinate.
5) Your thoughts are important and always matter - you never know who you could touch with what you write.
People have reached out to me about some of my articles and started conversations; this is one of my favorite benefits of writing so often. Sure, not everybody reads every single article I publish, but I find that even just reaching one person a week makes the process worth it, because people do care what you have to say.
I cannot stress how important it is to share your stories, thoughts, and ideas. I know it is really easy to get drowned in books, essays, and homework, but I find writing to be one of the most restoring activities after you feel like your energy is drained.
Write for the Odyssey and be heard! You never know what you could learn, and that makes it all worth it!