Friday, January 3, 2014

A Note on Writing

"I lie here and ask myself, 'Just how many things do I have to invent in my head to survive this?'"
-A.S. King, Ask The Passengers

I'm a firm believer that everyone needs an outlet, whether that being playing music, painting, doing yoga, etc. Everyone needs something that makes them happy and helps them escape the tedium that is often every day life. This past semester, I was asked to give a group of freshmen advice on how best to manage their time in college. My biggest and most important piece of advice is this: take time to do the things that truly fulfill you, even if they aren't the ones at the top of your to-do list. It's what will keep you sane when you have three books to read and two tests to study for and a paper to write if you carve out an hour of your day to do something for yourself. I've had quite a few of these type of outlets in my life, chiefly singing and reading. They were always my escapes or happy places at the end of a rough day.
When I got to college, I was faced with new challenges, not all of which I was able to cope with properly. I had always been an anxious kid, but suddenly my anxiety was at all new levels- panic attack levels. I was no longer in a singing group like I had been since grammar school, and reading didn't seem to be enough anymore (don't get me wrong- I love to read). I had a new itch to do something bigger, and I finally found it during my sophomore year- writing.
I had always been a pretty good writer- English was my subject and I could churn out papers with ease. But writing fiction was an entirely different animal, one I had just never considered. I'm still not sure what possessed me to start, but I'm thrilled that I did. Nothing has helped me better cope with the curve balls the past four years have thrown at me like writing has.
Writing appeals to me because I'm an escapist at heart. That's why I chose the A.S. King quote to start this post. Ever since I was a kid I've had a rich fantasy life, often letting my imagination get the best of me. It's only within the past three years or so that I began taking these made up worlds and putting them to paper. Because of my crazy imagination and dramatic tendencies, I'm easily brought down by little things in daily life, which contributes to my anxiety. Writing is cathartic for me, because it allows me to create different people and places so much more exciting than the much smaller scope of my own realities and escape into them. Just as the quote says, when I start to get down about something, it's a matter of making up new worlds in my head to cope with it. Fiction is the greatest escape their is, so instead of just reading about fantastical universes, why not create my own?
Don't get me wrong- sometimes writing is difficult and frustrating. But I'm a firm believer that if you find an outlet you feel passionately about, one that lets you express yourself, you owe it to yourself to pursue it. It might just be my overly active imagination talking, but I think working hard at something you love will get you much farther in life than doing work just because it seems like the logical path.

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