Print Edition - 2017-11-01  |  The Collegian

Breaking through the writer’s block

- Uttam Shrestha

Nov 1, 2017-

I watch my friends—all applying to US this fall—frustrated while trying to write their personal essays. They make themselves sit in a chair, hold an imaginary gun to their head and write. Then, they complain about how they can never write well or connect with their emotions. I tell them the same thing—let yourself go.

Brute force is not the solution during periods when you lack creativity. When you are writing forcefully, you are virtually forcing yourself to fill your head with ideas and imaginations. Remember, you can never squeeze ideas the same way you can squeeze juice from a lemon. Rather, consider a mindset I call the “water-bottle principle” (I know, but hear me out). You relax the bottle, simply punch a hole in it, then, watch the water flow out of it. Writing with this mindset will amount to a lot more than writing with brute force.

That’s it, relax and let your creativity flow. Go to your favourite place in your house and start remembering. Start from your childhood. Remember the first time you scored a goal, even the first time you played football. Remember the first time you felt the meaning of “embarrassment” when your teacher crushed your dignity with her passive-aggressive wit.

Remember the first time you felt love, your first high school crush. Remember the time when you were born. Okay! That’s not possible. But take something that inspires you and put passion behind it. 

Go to a park, if that’s possible in Kathmandu, and start writing. Write about your favourite moments: moments when you learnt something important, you cried, or felt at your best. Write about a time when you were your happiest. Write how you felt when you were rejected, dejected, and dissected with scrutiny. However, my best advice would be to write about things that make you interesting. We all are helplessly attracted to interesting people, so be one.

It is also okay, however, to glean into the hardships you have been through, and the pain you have suffered if it inspires you. But I don’t recommend getting soaked with disappointments, embarrassment, and especially not negativity. Remember, as Kierkegaard once said, “Life can be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” So, optimism and hope are your best weapons as a writer.

Also, having the end goal in mind is crucial. Clarity about what, and how, you want to write will save you a lot of trouble during the process. Tom Stillwell, CEO of the Clio Award–winning marketing agency Midnight Oil, explains: “Creativity can be very expensive if you aren’t careful. You could dive into work without clarity on what creativity you want, and end up churning time, energy, and money without results.”

- Shrestha is a +2 student at Liverpool International College

Published: 01-11-2017 08:40

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