My high school creative writing teacher once let me in on this trick, he said, ‘If you don’t know what to start writing about, why not try writing about anything.’
At first this baffled me. Writing about anything! That seems ridiculous! I mean why would I write about anything when that would be a total waste of my time! Isn’t it more productive to start a thesis and build upon it? Or, if you don’t have a thesis, just start to grow a particular topic or some point your trying to prove, or, whatever your trying to write about?
My teacher always emphasized that writing doesn’t always have to make sense. He told us, ‘Sometimes you have to let your thoughts flow before you can see the rhythm of your writing.’
So he had my entire class preform a writing exercise. Every time we came to class, we were require to walk in, sit down and silently write for forty minutes straight – with our pens and pencils up in the air for every minute.
I remember the first time we did this exercise, I stepped into class and had no clue what to start writing about. My teacher never gave us a topic, so it was always up to everyone individually to come up with something to write about; or come up with some hand rhythm that lasted forty minutes.
In fact, for a few days I had no idea what to put on those blank pages in front of me. I remember I ended up writing, ‘Fuck, I have to idea what to write.’ He told us we could swear, but only on paper.
After a while, it got easier to find something here and there to write about. Sometimes it was about the drama going on in my high school, other times, it was about certain assignments or topics I was studying in another subjects, or about my friends and super boring home-life.
By the time the end of the semester came around, I had a small but mighty, documented diary of my sophomore year of high school. Something I definitely didn’t expect at the end of the year.
In turn, I started finding it easier to write in other courses. By the time I got to college, I was always using my this method to pen countless essays and even used the trick in spur-of-the-moment writing assignments in class. My high school teachers method helps me get my thoughts together and focus on what I am trying write about. Eventually, I came to realize that I actually enjoyed writing. Instead of dreading how I would start, I embraced the creative freedom to write about anything!
Now, I don’t remember a ton of events in high school, teachers are even fuzzier. However, there are two teachers that I remember from grade school – one is my third grade teacher; he taught me about Ben Franklin and all the cool things he invented. The other is my sophomore year creative writing teacher. He taught me what writing is about, jumping into the unknown, pen first, jotting down your journey, and never giving up until your satisfied. A way to let you voice be heard – silent, but proud…and brave, to let your thoughts linger on page… Anyways, keep on learning.