As the semester winds to its usual slow and painful ending, I always get stuck writing essays long after I’ve run out of motivation and ideas. I always get caught up trying to please the Little Hater in my head. I stole this term from a web blogger/vlogger Jay Smooth, but the term is really just another word for writer’s block. It’s that guy in your head who tells you that everything you’ve ever written is awful and you have no chance at doing this for a living.
The Little Hater is rough to try to write around though. The hardest thing that a writer can do is try to compromise his love of being entertaining and his love of being intelligent and honest. There are a million ideas that can pop in to your head, but trying to put them down in a way that makes people want to keep reading what you write can be almost impossible at times. There are a few things I’ve learned over the years though that have help me with my writer’s block that might just help some of you with yours.
The easiest thing you can do to stop the Little Hater is always to start early. I know that everybody has a million things that they would rather be doing that sitting down and staring at a blank piece of paper for several hours, but the only way to crank out a big writing assignment sometimes is to do just that. Start early, start looking up sources or start looking at places that inspire you early and get that idea down days before you even have to write the paper. Once you find that idea it’s all downhill from there, but if you find that idea as soon as you can, you’ll never have to worry about it again.
The next big thing you can do for yourself is get rid of the idea that you have to write a masterpiece for every single piece of writing. I’ve known so many people that just get so tense about their writing because they never think it’s going to be good enough. They don’t feel they can be original and witty and their paper is always just garbage compare to everyone else. The fact of the matter is that most of what you write isn’t going to be amazing. For every mind-blowingly awesome paper that you write, there’s going to be three that you never even want to look at ever again. Just keep putting yourself out there and take every paper for what it’s worth: a single assignment that won’t end the world even if it’s not amazing.
Finally, don’t be afraid to write something controversial that you’re afraid your professor or others may not agree with. I’ve pretty much made my mark as a person who writes opinions that may not be popular, but I wholly believe in. The hardest thing you will ever write in life in a paper that you don’t agree with. Your ideas will be half-hearted and it’ll show in your writing. If you are going to be forced to write something regardless, write something you’re passionate about and you’ll find it to be a lot more natural. Don’t worry about what others think about your opinion, just worry about making it clear.
I have to admit I partially wrote this paper for myself because as the semester winds down I find it so hard to look objectively at why I have a hard time writing. Either way, I hope that anyone who’s stuck on their paper can take a look at this and say that it helped them overcome their Little Hater just like it helped me overcome mine.
Brian Fosdick is a junior journalism major. His columns appear Wednesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.