By Jewell Porter


You know how when you’re staring at an empty Word document, the line just sits there blinking back and forth into existence, almost taunting you at your inability to write a simple sentence or form a coherent thought? Well, I’ve been staring at that blinking line for the past fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to start writing.

We all experience this whether we’re just trying to write a simple column on the the forum page in the Denisonian or trying to start that fifty page research paper for senior research. It’s a common problem.

So common, even, that this problem goes beyond just writer’s block. I don’t know if I can speak for everyone here, but I seem to always have this issue of not knowing how to start something, no matter what it is. But for those who share this problem of not knowing how to start things, I’ve developed a theory about why that is and how we can avoid it.

In order to understand this issue, we have to admit a couple things to ourselves. First, we’re perfectionists. That’s really why we don’t start that paper until the eleventh hour. We’re too busy wondering whether we can make that article or paper or project perfect rather than worrying about starting it in a timely manner.

But the catch is that being a perfectionist really isn’t a bad thing. What’s important is that we learn to control that aspect about ourselves and push forward to giving us enough time to actually make whatever we’re doing the best that it could be.

But in order to do that and to fix that problem, we just have to start writing. What you’re writing may be completely irrelevant to whatever the subject matter is, but that really is okay as long as you have enough time to actually finish it. What’s more important here when you’re not sure how to do something is to just write everything out and then go back and edit it when you’re finished.

I know this probably sounds like a lesson that your high school English teacher would attempt to teach you, but it really is true. Once you sit down and start tackling whatever it is that you need to do, you’ll soon find that things start falling into place.

This is, of course, assuming that you’ve done your homework, meaning that you finished reading the book or doing the interviews or whatever else it is that you need to do to ensure that your project is ready to actually be started.

The real issue is that people often fail to realize that it really is okay to start whatever it is you’re doing and just trust yourself to be able to turn out an acceptable product.

I tell you this, fellow Denisonians, because I have just done the exact thing. I sat here, stared at an empty document, and now I am ending the end of my spiel.

We’ve got a brand new semester, so we’ve got a brand new start to learning how to just dive in and start writing, even if you’re unsure of yourself. Sure, some planning is often needed in the beginning, but  the truth of the matter is that the beginning is the hardest part. Once that’s over, you’ll be finished before you know it.