Here is what I tell my students about their writing: if it was easy, everyone would do it.
This is, of course, a stupid thing to say. Everyone does do it. Very few people would recognize it about themselves, but everyone writes. You write e-mails, you write texts, you write Facebook updates, you write tweets, you write all the time.
And yet nothing seems harder than facing a blank page with that blinking curser just waiting for you to fill it with Important Thoughts. Suddenly my students (and I don’t pretend to be exempt from this) forget that they write all the time, they assume they never write. And even if you get over that original block—if you manage to vomit some sort of collection of words into the document—there’s always that dreaded Writer’s Block. Nobody wants Writer’s Block. I have a friend who acts like I’m in quarantine when I have Writer’s Block: she won’t see me until I tell her it’s passed.
So then I tell my students that it isn’t easy and there’s something noble in them continuing to try. If it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s not a lie.
At least one student cries in my office hours each semester. At least one student tells me, “I just don’t want to, you know, overthink it.” At least one student tells me English has never been their “thing.”
It doesn’t actually matter what their beef is, but I listen patiently each time. And then I tell them the same thing: you just have to write. It doesn’t matter what you write, when you write, where you write—just write. And then write more. Update your Facebook, tweet about your lunch, text your BFF, e-mail your mom—it doesn’t matter. Just write. It only gets easier when you do it.
But, then again, if it was easy, everyone would do it.
About the Author
Bessie McAdams, Ph.D. Student, English
Published in: Student Voices