Untitled documents are a struggle we all face. Whether we’re writing an essay or something else, we just don’t know where to begin. Just like this article I’m writing right now. Ya feel?
You stare transfixed at an empty white page, lost in a different world than your own. Lost in a world called Sidetracked. The hills are greener there…the waters are bluer there…the sun shines brighter there.
But only your mind is swimming in that blue sea.
Rather, you remain drowning in the white sea which ripples upon your screen.
No boat could possibly cross that threshold, no ship could defeat the rage of those waves.
Unless, of course, you constructed your own vessel.
Starting with a blank slate, with an unopened box of originality, is in no way a bad thing. But late at night before an essay is due, you don’t want to be staring at a blank piece of paper. You want there to be words on it. Preferably a lot of words.
So, you stare blankly at a pasty white document, and for some reason the words which you have within you to say don’t just miraculously appear on the screen. The ingenuity and brilliance of what your as of yet untitled essay could be is nowhere to be found. The perfect combination of words and phrases are out there somewhere, waiting for you to type them on your untitled document in the perfect order.
But alas, it’s 11:34 PM and your essay is due at 8:00 AM tomorrow.
And the proper words have yet to find their way into your brain… darn you, essay.
I believe the biggest reason why writing an essay is so hard for so many people is because their focus is on the wrong things in their writing process.
For example, an obvious focus is the grade. Good grades are an incentive of every writing assignment at school; of course they are. But if you try too hard to string together the perfect band of language (the A+ most spectacular sentence ever), you in turn shut down your creativity. Rather than trying to play into your teacher’s hands, aim to write an essay that is interesting and unique to you.
That doesn’t mean avoiding the guidelines of your assigned essay completely. For example, if you’re supposed to write an essay about colonialism, don’t stray from that topic because it bores you to death. But find a way to make it interesting to you.
Ask yourself, “How can I have the most fun writing this?” Then let a stream of subconsciousness carry you through the journey.
Albert Einstein once said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” In this way, subconsciously you are the master of your own style of writing. You know best what you’ve always somewhere known.
And stick to that…because again and again you will drown in that white sea.
And this is life. A bare white document isn’t the most dire threat you will face.
Maybe you escape from drowning, but then just across from the shore there stands a pair of high white peaks, glimmering in the clouds. Or maybe you’re lost at sea, and you catch a glimpse of white winged seabirds. Maybe it’s a gallant white horse to be rode through sweeping plains, or a white tree sprouting from the soil. Or maybe again comes a blank, white, untitled document…shy, and bare, and waiting for the perfect arrangement of words.
[alert type=blue ]This article is part of a creative series from the Opinions department. Read its companion piece here: Untitled document by William Flannery[/alert]