But I don’t know what to write…?

Well DUH. This is, in a nutshell, the main problem. My grandkid coulda told you that. And I don’t even have a kid.

You know, a lot of us, oftentimes, worry about the writing process. We worry about what words we will use, how we will organize the information, what examples we will use….and it can be hard to refocus our anxiety from that. But, and because, the real issue is figuring out what you will write.

You’re probably thinking, I already knew that. In that case, good. But have you really put the time and effort into narrowing in on the what? Not the style, not the prose. Nope. Not the examples, not the organization. Nope. And not the conclusion. Nope. Not even the intro.

Have you really, fully, conceived and imagined the core idea you want to convey? Isn’t the way we think something that can’t really….be put into words, almost? Some say we think in words, some say we think in images, some say in move-like reels…but the way we think is some strange amalgamation of these, and then some. A thought can mean so many things in such a small fraction of a second, and then it takes 1000 words or a book of pictures just to illustrate that one thought. The way our brains work is truly beautiful, and sometimes, most of the time, I daresay, “Inconceivable!”, as Vizzini in “The Princess Bride” would say. But I digress.

Have you really focused on understanding that thought, your own thought, that you want to, well, focus on? Have you really gone into depth within your mind to figure out what exactly that concept you’re thinking is?

Maybe what you do is get an idea, write it down, and then write some more. Which is good, sure. But when you don’t really have a fleshed-out concept, writing becomes harder. Even though that’s what you rush to do because that’s what you are the most nervous about.

So. Next time, take a night to sleep on your ideas…trust your brain to store the info. And sure, write it down if it helps. But don’t just jump into the writing step. I mean, you definitely can. Some of us work better that way. But stick to taking notes and writing down exactly what you are thinking. You can go through and refine and elaborate more later, when you have a better idea of what your idea even is. It’s almost like the writing process is the editing part, and the brainstorming and thinking is what we traditionally call the writing part.

Really feel the idea. Try to understand it inside and out, consider all the different paths this idea brings you to, all the different tangents. Get a vibe. Get a color. Let your mind truly understand the concept, even if you can’t put into words just yet. Because for lack of better words, at this point what’s in your head might be merely a strong collection of thoughts that are trying to say something, but you’re not yet sure what. Plus, this “color” will come through in your writing later on. (A.K.A. your voice and mood.)

The thinking process might actually be the hardest. Because you need to have that ‘Aha!’ moment, first when the idea pops up, and then again when you think about it some more and come up with more related points, and then again when you realize with greater detail the finer points of what you are trying to say. Verbalizing is a tough step. Because our brain doesn’t think fully in words or pictures. It’s a strange amalgamation of that, and then some.

Give yourself a break. Don’t rush to the writing part. Got an idea? Great. Now let it simmer for some time. Give yourself time for your brain to just mull over it, tossing and turning, letting it float around and more related points come on in. Let it form itself before you take control and try to turn it into a 5-page English paper or an analysis of Rasputin’s historical influence. Take notes, sure, write things out, sure, but don’t rush to it. Let it form in your brain as a fantastic web of ideas and points that need to be conveyed, not just that you want to convey, before you put your own $0.02 in. This works especially well for college and post-graduate admission essays, because the hardest thing is figuring out what you want to talk about. Give yourself a solid launch-pad before you start scribbling things and then tossing the paper out in a fit of frustration. Let it come to you and form itself. Give yourself a chance to breathe, and it might just work for you.



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