Writer's block can be a real b*tch, especially when you have so many ideas running through your head, but don't know how to get them on paper. Well that was me, for the last few days, trying to figure out what in the world to write about. So I started answering questions about myself in my journal to see if I could spark any ideas: where am I from, what do I believe in, what do I do for fun, what hardships have I gone through, who are the people that I love, what am I nostalgic about, what do I study. And believe it or not, it was the last question that resonated with me the most: what do I study? Well the simple answer is that I am an English and American Studies double major who hopes to become a high school English teacher at some point in the future, but ask anybody about their passions and dreams for the future and I guarantee you there's a lot more to it than that.
I went into college wanting to pursue Business Economics (I know, Business Econ to English and American Studies? It's a weird jump, but I promise you it was the best decision I ever made). I loved Econ in high school and thought it would be a smart thing to major in at the time, however before classes even started freshman year I was second guessing my decision. Deep down I knew Business Econ wasn't right for me. I liked it enough, but I wasn't passionate about it. What I did love though, was English. I loved writing papers, analyzing texts, reading amazing books and poetry, interpreting meanings, and getting lost in the worlds of characters created by amazing authors. I still love those things to this day. So, at the last minute I did a complete 180 and changed my major to English Literature, and I'm so grateful for that decision. American Studies was added later on Sophomore year, and the combination of these two majors has brought me so much joy, compassion, knowledge, empathy, awareness, skill, friends, passion, and more.
But back to the question of what do I study. Well it ranges from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Toni Morrison and Jesmyn Ward. It's understanding that the "American experience" is different for all Americans, and looking at it through many different lenses such as art, literature, history, politics, social movements, and culture. It's novels, short stories, poetry, ballads, speeches, films, artwork, and so much more. And as an English and American Studies major, I write. A LOT. I'm constantly writing academic papers on various topics and I love it. But, notice how I said "academic papers?" Well, yes I love to write and yes I like to think I'm a good writer, but not in the creative sense. I'm not a creative writing major, I've always been too scared to take a creative writing class, I've never written my own poetry or stories – I've just never thought of myself as a good creative writer. It's always been an intimidating task to go for, so I've avoided it for a long time. Well, that is until a good friend of mine asked me to be on her team of writers for the Odyssey, and I couldn't refuse an opportunity like that.
Writing my own articles and having free reign over what I write about was an incredibly daunting venture, but looking back on it now after four months of writing for the Odyssey, I'm so grateful I did it. Before my first article back in May, I never would have called myself a "creative writer." I would never sit down and just write about what I was thinking or things I was passionate about. I didn't think I had what it took to succeed at it. But now? I'm in a completely different mindset when it comes to writing. Everyone, no matter who you are, where you're from, or what you do, is a writer in their own way. Even if you don't think you're a "good writer," trust me you can and you should do it. Although there are writing rules, conventions, grammar, sentence structure, whatever our world uses to qualify "good writing," they shouldn't stop you. Everyone has a story that needs to be told. If you are writing about something you love, something you're passionate about, something that is important to you – then it doesn't matter how you write it, just that you do.
Feeling, emotion, excitement, love, intensity, and spirit is what makes something good, not how perfect it is grammatically. Have you ever watched and listened to someone talk about something they are so incredibly passionate about?? It's an amazing sight to see. The excitement and intensity in their voice, the way their eyes light up, their body language and movement is open and expressive, they don't hold back. It's the same thing for writing. Any form of writing is vulnerable and exposed, like a live wire, and that's scary, trust me I know. Do it anyways. Once I started writing for the Odyssey, I gained so much confidence in my voice and what I have to say that being the "perfect writer" was no longer my main priority. I even began journaling as another form of written expression. Getting a pen to paper and just brain dumping all of my thoughts, ideas, and feelings is a huge relief when my mind won't seem to shut up. That's what most of my articles are anyways: important things on my mind that need to get out into the world.
Yes, it may be scary and intimidating, but it's also cleansing and freeing. Writing is a beautiful medium through which we can communicate with the rest of the world and with ourselves. I am forever grateful for my friend (you know who you are) for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself, and for continuously encouraging me to be myself and share my voice. And just like her, I encourage you to write. Write as often as you can. Write about what you want and what lights a fire in you. Write freely and without judgement or self-criticism. Write because you may surprise yourself, because you'll learn new things about yourself, and because you may even find solace in it. And if you have no idea where to begin, just like I did, I invite you to answer some of these questions… you never know what might spark your interest.
Where am I from?
What do I believe in?
What do I do for fun?
What hardships have I gone through?
What are some of my best/favorite moments?
Who are the people that I love and care about?
What things, places, events, or memories am I nostalgic about?
What do I study?
How am I feeling right now?
Who is my hero?
What makes me really (insert emotion)? (ex. Happy, angry, sad, excited, etc.)
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