‘I never know what I think about something, until I read what I’ve written on it.’
I couldn’t agree more with this quote. Writing for me is also a kind of therapeutic, or flow experience, where I just start writing, without planning what I want to write.
At school when we had to write an essay on a topic or do a piece of creative writing, there were always two groups of people. Those who planned exactly what they were going to write before they started, and those who just started writing and see where it took them. I was definitely in the second group.
Often, I would have a vague idea about what I wanted to write about, and then I’d just start writing and see what came out. Writing something down makes you start thinking systematically about it and you start neatly categorising your thoughts by writing them down on paper. If you’re writing a story, it starts taking on a life of its own. I spoke to someone who is working on a novel recently and she told me ‘I was writing about a character and it really surprised me how he turned out to be in the end, I thought he would be just a marginal figure, but he became one of the most interesting characters in the novel, I can’t wait to see how his story will end.’ There’s something fascinating about this process as if you weren’t the person who was writing but rather something took over and was writing for you as your imagination begins to develop the story and guide your hand.
As with many worthwhile things it can be hard to start writing. Every time it’s time to write a new blog post, report, or personal statement I keep putting it off, whiling my time away and putting off starting writing. But the trick is to open up your notepad (or a new Word document in my case) and start writing the first sentence you think of and then just let yourself write. Keep writing and see what comes out. Sometimes you start off well and then suddenly the words dry up and you’re stuck in a dead end, but somehow you keep going until you get a second wind.
While writing you experience a sense of flow and when it’s done you’re proud that you’ve done it and when you look at the clock, once you start it actually takes very little time to get a lot done, the key is just to start. It’s like exercise, or taking on a new project, or forcing yourself to go out to the pub with your friends when it’s raining outside and your warm sofa feels so comfortable. Once you actually do it, you have fun and you’re glad you did it.
Sometimes you worry about if what you’re doing is any good, but in the end you just enjoy it and that’s what matters. It’s important not to over think too much otherwise you’d end up not doing anything and get bogged down by the details.
And before you know it another blog post is done…