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On Writing

It’s difficult to just start writing with no idea in mind.

I have no topic at hand but I want to write something. Am I writing for the sake of writing? I want to think writing will generate a topic for me, as it typically does, so this is mostly stream of consciousness.

This is what I did with many academic papers I have written. Of course I have done the requisite research necessary to write an informed piece, but most of the hypotheses I have discussed came from writing.

When you think about it, generating ideas while writing is the best way to do it. Aside from just sitting and doing nothing but thinking, it seems the only way–to me.

I remember one particular instance writing an academic paper on video games for a mythology class. I knew a great deal about the game I was writing on, Final Fantasy VII, and thought I could “wing” an anthropological analysis of it.

If memory serves me correctly, I compared the main character to an everyman juxtaposed against the extremes of the “good” heroine and the “evil” villain, wherein the mediator, the everyman, is the ultimate decider of the story’s outcome.

Whether you understand the gist of that or not, know this: generating that idea gave me goosebumps. My prof liked it so much he exclaimed in the margins of my paper and asked if he could incorporate it into future iterations of his class. I generously agreed.

A few months later in a creative writing class I got a similar feeling when I realized, when writing, my final paper was coming together spectacularly. I began writing the last 45 of 50 pages 18 hours before it was due, but when I got going, man, was it fun. I got up from my computer maybe once or twice in that time. It was a great feeling writing what I wanted to write and making it compelling. It was also received quite well (externally) by the prof and the class.

I suppose I did generate an idea or two by simply starting to write this time. It’s not every day one finds the time or the inclination to write. And it’s not every day one finds a great way to stop writing and worrying about ending on a high note, so here’s my full stop.