When I was in grade four, every kid in my class had to write a story. I don’t remember what mine was about, but it couldn’t have been that bad, because my teacher held it up in front of the class as an example and stuck it on the board.
It was then I decided I wanted to be a writer.
Clearly, I was either a very ambitious nine-year-old, a very delusional nine-year-old, or a nine-year-old that just put too much stock on validation. I’m not here to psycho-analyze my childhood self, though. Instead, I’m here to speak about writing.
I really love to write. I don’t know if writing is my career goal anymore—after all, who knows what they want to do after they graduate—but I cannot deny that it brings me a special kind of joy. There’s nothing quite like writing when you’re really in the mood for it—when the words just fly out of you and your jumbled thoughts come out clear on the page. I never feel quite as free as I do when I’m writing. I like most forms of it; I like writing in my journal before I go to sleep, I like creative writing, I like writing for newspapers or magazines, and I even like writing essays.
Here’s the catch: despite this love, and the undeniable joy it brings me, I rarely bring myself to write.
Often it’s hard to find time for yourself. It’s tough to justify spending an extended amount of time on anything that’s not school, or work, or other responsibilities. For me, that’s what writing is; it’s something I do just for myself. I’m trying to learn that doing things for myself is productive too. Something isn’t unimportant just because it isn’t a checkmark on your to-do list. Making time for yourself and whatever activities make you feel content, calm, and free is important for your brain.
Recently, I’ve tried to carve out a half hour before bed to just sit in my room with my twinkly lights and write in my journal. I’ve been amazed at how much better I feel after I spend that time writing without stopping to think. I’m able to fill up a few pages with whatever muddled thoughts are floating around in my head, and puzzle through them. It’s a cliché, but journaling makes my head feel clearer. I could not recommend it more. Seriously, get yourself a journal. They even make cute ones. Mine’s red, with a little Glossier sticker on it.
In my years at Queen’s, I’ve signed up for multiple clubs that forced me to write. I write for The Queen’s Journal and MUSE, and I’ve found that having strict deadlines for my writing really helps me complete pieces. Deadlines force me to make the time, sit down, and write the piece. Being a part of these clubs also makes writing feel productive because I’m making a concrete thing that gets published. If you’re like me and love to write but don’t do it as much as you’d like to, contribute to these amazing publications! I promise you’ll be better for it.
The biggest struggle in my relationship with writing has been with creative writing. Unlike writing essays or articles, it requires a significant amount of creative effort on my part. I’m not a particularly imaginative person, and I struggle with generating ideas. Despite this issue, creative writing has the biggest pay-off for me. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I very rarely write creatively, because it’s hard. I don’t churn out stories as often as I did when I was nine, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because no twenty-year-old has the imagination of a nine-year-old, maybe it’s because I feel some kind of weird pressure for the thing I write to be good, or maybe it’s just because I’m lazy. In any case, it’s still a hurdle I’ve got to jump.
I took CWRI 295 at Queen’s last year and I’m so glad I did. It’s a creative writing class so, obviously, you have to do some creative writing. You are required to write eight things for that class, all of which have deadlines. I knew this class would stress me out more than any other course I had taken because sometimes I feel like I just can’t come up with a good enough idea before that deadline. Somehow, though, I did it every time. I wrote eight things because I had to.
I say creative writing is still a hurdle I’ve got to jump because I haven’t really written anything since the last week of that class. Nothing happened to stop me, per se, I just haven’t done it. As I said, I continuously struggle to sit down and write if I don’t have the fierce motivation of a looming deadline. At least I proved to myself that I could still churn out stories like I did when I was nine. That’s half the battle.
Who knows, maybe I’ll start setting fake deadlines in my head to get myself to write. Perhaps that will bring me a little closer to nine-year-old Julia.
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