When I first began writing for a public audience, I wrote like every other 12 year old preteen. I automatically assumed that my thoughts would be the most interesting, most riveting ideas ever conceived by mankind, so clearly everyone in the world should revel in my ideas. In what my current teachers would likely call “word vomit”, I would write about the first thing that comes to my mind, not giving a hot about how personal it would be, what the topic was, if it actually made logical sense, or any other factors. Instead, I was more excited that some of my own words would so easily be converted into a digital living creature on the internet!
For an instance, I was immortal.
As I grew up a little bit more, I began to realize exactly how words have power, and proper wielding of such could lead to an increased sharing of ideas or perhaps even better conversation or discussion. My thoughts were not limited to myself, nor were they absolutely right. I learned to polish and to revise, to take in new ideas and make them my own. This was a good time, when I was not afraid to say what I meant, while being humble enough to accept when I was wrong.
But as time went on, I began to dwell on my thoughts more and more. For much of this past year, I would write down small snippets of ideas in my planner, vowing to return to them one day. These snippets would always seem to arise at the most inopportune times, when I was riding the bus, in the middle of BYSO practices, while being lectured by mom, in the middle of the short walk between my school and my home, etcetera and etcetera. I’ll return to you someday, I promised to no one in particular. I won’t forget about you, I’ll make you into something real soon.
But the problem is, as evidenced by my distinct lack of updates on this blog, is that this just doesn’t happen all that much. When you move past that small window of time when the idea seems just crazy enough to work, you begin introspecting, usually too much introspection. I started to doubt my own abilities, to be confused over what was needed and what was not. I gave up entire articles because I wasn’t satisfied with how to word the beginning sentence, worried that it would not be politically correct or perhaps just not the perfect combination of words.
Even more frightening is that I realized my thoughts change over time. It is very difficult to write about injustices when you have just relaxed over a comforting home-cooked meal, and even more so to describe the joys of life when you had just pulled an all-nighter finishing coursework. Although both of these ideas are still true and were once part of you, they only exist for some fraction of your lifespan.
As part of the International Baccalaureate program, each candidate needs to write an extended essay, a paper of roughly 3700 words that thoroughly investigates a topic. As an extremely daunting task, our ToK teacher, one of the best advisors and mentors I have had the opportunity to have, told us this: “Just write it. Write your [crappy] first draft.” We all laughed and chucked; when did teachers encourage students to not do their best? But his advice was solid. By getting those ideas out of your mind and onto paper, or in my case a cheap word processor, processing ideas becomes easier. You don’t have the pain of remembering what you wanted to say, the ideas are on the paper in front of you!
This is extremely similar to the mottos of the National Novel Writing Month, as well as the National Blog Posting Month, or even the National Poetry Writing Month. All of these vents were made with the idea that writers don’t begin with a perfect idea and do nothing but polish, but instead start off with word vomit, before slowly revising to create something better and better.
While I hope this message can be applicable to everyone who reads it, I also hope that it will be especially encouraging to myself. Don’t waste our time reading the news, just sit down for a second and write! You don’t have to block out a perfect time or even set up your nice and cozy writing environment” to produce something of meaning.
Just get that crappy first draft out of your system, and write. Write. WRITE!