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One can overcome writer’s block by using own voice


December 14, 2016

Writer’s block is kind of a funny thing, because whenever I have it, I don’t have the absence of ideas, I instead have an overwhelming amount of words coursing through my mind. The problem is, they sometimes are not all my own ideas.

I am not ashamed to say how great it is having a cell phone that is essentially a computer. I can do so much so conveniently, and there is no logical reason to hate that. With my phone, I am able to always be connected to new ideas, opinions and points of view that expand and challenge how I think and interact with the world.

Any moment of potential idle time is filled with the slow scroll of articles being read and the familiar opening notes of my favorite podcasts reverberating around the bathroom while I take a shower. I am exposed to so much that sometimes it is difficult for me to always find my own voice.

The practical thing for me to do would be to limit the amount of information I take in. But while that is an easy and obvious solution, I do not think it is the right one. I do not want to limit the amount of material I take in, but instead I want to put in more work at developing what it is exactly that I want to send out.

One way I accomplish this is to read often and read about things that I do not agree with. Not only is that a test of my personal perseverance, but it is a good way for me to test my position on issues that I consider myself to be firm and unyielding on. Reading about topics that go against your beliefs not only challenges your ideals, but can often make for an even more interesting topic to choose for a writing assignment.

Another rule I give myself is to read, digest and wait. I will not write any reactions or thoughts immediately about the same topic I have just read. This way, I can be sure that I am not letting someone else’s words leak out onto my paper just because they were the last things I absorbed. It is very important to me to not copy someone else’s thoughts or ideas, but it is also important for me to also realize that I do not write in a vacuum.

It is not feasible to block out all outside influence when I write or communicate. My writing style is influenced by everything I have ever read and heard. The lesson to keep in mind is to be aware of the fact that it is impossible to write or exist without any kind of influence or sway from others, and that is not a bad thing.

As a writer, a journalism student and a human being, finding your own voice is much easier when you acknowledge that who you are is a result or the product of the environment you have been exposed to.

Being aware of the impact others have had allows me to realize that the problem is not that I don’t have any original ideas, but rather that I need to work harder to sift through the jumble to uncover my voice and to ensure that it is my voice that is heard.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.