The Blank Page

The Blank Page

Why I love it and you should too

The blank page is a terrifying thing for a lot of people. Students everywhere dread that expanse of whiteness, the void that must be filled. Page and word minimums are haunting, leering things that fill the hearts of many with loathing. Some can spend hours staring at a blank page. Others can spend even longer coming up with ways to avoid it. As for me, well, I often do a mix of both of those things. But I have a confession.

I love blank pages.

A blank page is a clean slate, a new beginning. It’s fresh, simple, uncluttered. It is full of endless possibilities. You can put anything on that page. For some, that is what makes it so daunting. The innumerable outcomes can be overwhelming. But all that possibility—that’s the reason I love it. A blank page is a story waiting to be put into motion, an opinion about to be expressed. A blank page is a canvas about to become a masterpiece. A blank page is a love on the brink of being shared.

While many might stare at a blank page and see a dead end, I look at a blank page and see freedom. Words are freedom for me. I’ve never had the ability to express myself well when speaking out loud. I get tongue-tied and flustered and awkward. I usually give up on trying to get my point across after three or four bumbling sentences. When I write, however, it’s like I’m using a different voice. It is a different voice. My writing voice. There is a clear disconnect between my brain and my mouth. But in writing, those mixed up signals disappear and I can easily put my thoughts into words. And when I don’t like those words, I can take them back, edit them, make them more clear, concise, efficient.

Okay, so I like blank pages. What’s the big deal? The big deal is that you should too. Yes, I completely agree that some papers professors require are ridiculous. It’s hard for anyone to write 10 pages on something they’re not interested in or don’t even fully understand. Trust me, I know. But a blank page doesn’t have to be daunting or horrifying or petrifying or any other scary word.

A blank page is a challenge and an opportunity for everyone.

No matter how well you can write, staring at a blank page with absolutely no idea where to start is a common occurrence. Don’t give up or give in to the temptation to walk away and save it for later. Buckle down and just start writing. Simply put your thoughts on the page. Turn the blankness into something more. It can be messy. It doesn’t have to make sense. Just start. Free-writing, which is simply writing without stopping for a certain period of time, is the best technique I’ve learned for getting past that annoying editor in your head telling you that your words aren’t good enough. Free-writing helps establish your thoughts and sparks a sort of rhythm, giving you a sense of the direction you want to go.

Writing is a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to express yourself in a way that can edited and perfected. There is so much freedom in that. You don’t have to get it right the first time. Or the second time. Or the third time. Heck, most published writing has been through innumerable edits by the author and then even more by one or more editors. Writing is also an opportunity to express your feelings in a way that lasts. Spoken word can be recorded, but in general, with conversation that doesn’t happen. Writing, however, is a permanent conversation. It is a record of your thoughts, thoughts you found important enough to set down. Don’t waste that opportunity.

So the next time you are faced with a blank page, don’t let it conquer you. Maybe you will never love it. That’s okay, I understand. I will never love chemistry or physics (sorry, science majors). But I challenge you to look at a blank page a little differently. Not as a nuisance or chore or endless struggle, but as a challenge to be overcome. Use it as an opportunity to express yourself, to share your knowledge and your love of something.

Cover Image Credit: Photography Heat

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.

When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...


"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"


Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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