Personal Statement: Getting it on paper

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 - 11:51am

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Illustration by Cheryll Victuelles

 

Writing isn’t easy. Hell, I’ve been writing this piece for over an hour now. I might have been staring into empty space for most of that time, but it’s all part of the process, isn’t it?

It’s not.

It’s funny how I find myself in the same position almost every time I sit down to write something. It’s not like I don’t have ideas — they hit me so often during the day that I can’t keep count. In the shower, on the bus, in class, before I fall asleep … the opportunities are endless, but none are taken. I’ve always thought that college students take a certain amount of pride in procrastinating. It makes us feel kind of cool.

“Dude, I had a totally unproductive day today.”

“My week has been so unproductive.”

“I should have started this assignment five hours ago, but then I opened Netflix…”

How many times have these statements been made, and how many times have we actually felt a little good saying them, instead of feeling a great deal of regret? I’ve done it a few times. And so have you — don’t lie. The fact of the matter is that procrastination is wrong. It’s a horrible thing to do, we should be glad we have the time to do anything, really, and we should make the best possible use of it. Carpe diem the shit out of everything.

This is pretty rich coming from a guy who’s basically been sitting around for the better part of the day thinking of something to write about. I guess what’s making me regret it now is that I’ve actually had ideas, things I want to write about … it’s just that I get too comfortable too quickly. Dreaming out the perfect idea is so satisfying I forget to actually write the idea down. And really, what good is thinking of everything within your head if you don’t have anything to show for it in terms of tangible creative output?

I’ve always thought that writing is a two-part process. Writers have to be good thinkers, and they have to be good writers. Surprising, isn’t it? For an idea to be worth writing, it has to be well thought out, original, and interesting. That is the job of the thinker within the writer. The writer half is responsible for effectively translating thoughts into word. Crafting out the sentiment that you carry within you is what makes you a writer. Without it, you’re just a dreamer. That’s obviously not a bad thing; it’s just not what most writers want to be.

Writing is a skill that needs to be nourished and polished over time. And what’s the best way to do that? It’s to actually write. It’s absolutely essential for writers to devote time and energy to their craft and let it blossom over time.

Again, I realize this is priceless coming from me, someone who’s literally writing about how he cannot write, but I’m preaching to myself. I’m writing down what’s on my mind at this very instant, and after all — didn’t I just say that’s what I’m supposed to do? (Wow, talk about a self-serving piece.)

I remember watching a TED Talk a few years ago, which connects directly to this moment and this piece. I don’t remember who the speaker was, but it was a really successful and famous author. She spoke about how every writer, or every aspiring writer, has a “friend” that helps him or her write. She referred to this “friend” as a creative genie. Now this genie is a funny little guy. At random points in the day, whenever he chooses, he’ll climb into your ear and whisper brilliant ideas that you’re supposed to turn into brilliant stories. Technically, the only real job of a writer is to listen to the genie and write. But the catch is that if you don’t listen to your genie instantly, it’ll run away with its idea and you’ll never get a hold of that idea again.

I thought that this was the most ridiculous TED talk ever. I couldn’t believe I had wasted fifteen minutes of the time I usually wasted on PlayStation listening to this.

Fast forward a few years and I’m sitting here, writing this, to tell you that the genie is real. I’m serious. And he’s a slimy little bugger. Every time I was hit with an idea in the shower, bus or wherever, I really should have been writing it down. Writing isn’t easy. An idea might seem brilliant at one moment and ridiculous after a while, but that’s because in that moment, you’re able to really see the idea for what it is. You’ll be able to plan it out perfectly in your head and really feel it. It’s then that you should put pen to paper and write something, anything. Once the moment’s gone, it’s gone forever and you’re probably never going to feel it again.

The reason I’m talking about this is because I’ve just realized how many times I’ve been struck by something seemingly inspirational, but I just get so content with the idea itself that I forget to write it down. The thinker within me effectively lulls the writer into a false sense of security and subdues him, and the idea gets lost within my head. It’s a wonder that my genie keeps coming back to me because, really, I’m not a good friend to it. But I’m done messing around now, I’m ready for a serious commitment and I’ll be waiting for my genie with a pen and paper in hand. (As long as I’m not in the shower.)