Why (Young) Writers Get Stuck: How Our Online Writing Courses Ignite Beautiful, Powerful Work
MAYBE IT WAS an English class assignment. Maybe it was a poem or an essay. Maybe you’ve just kind of always known. Discovering that you love to write—however you came to know it—can feel kind of magical. The act of writing too. Until you get stuck. Why is it that even though you know you love, love, love to write, you get stuck? How do you get unstuck and uncover your most beautiful, compelling writing?
As women writers who got stuck (a lot) in the early days as young women, and then overcome those humps to build a productive writing practice and get published, we get it. We do. That’s why we designed one of our online writing courses for teens and twenty-somethings to specifically address that awful can’t-move-forward-but-would-die-without-writing condition.
The top reasons why (young) writers get stuck:
1. You just. Can’t. Get. Started.
Somehow you know that writing is your thing. And you love the voice and thoughts that emerge when you’ve got something to say. You just need that first spark to come to you. Only when you sit down with that beautiful journal you got from a friend and the pen that’s somehow still going, nothing comes out.
That’s because sometimes our writing brain just needs a little fuel. Also known as prompts.
Prompts like ‘write about a shirt with sentimental value’ offer ways to start stories or poems you didn’t know you wanted to write, and sometimes take you on a completely different but completely incredible path.
With online writing courses that provide a steady supply of prompts relevant to your age and experiences, you’re sure to ignite some of your most gorgeous writing!
2. You get started and things are going amazing, but then the fire starts to…fizzle.
Somewhere inside the beautiful mind of yours is a faculty that’s probably totally asleep. Snoring and morning breath and all of that. It’s your creativity. Your source of shaping art, and stories. In this digital, academic, schools-have-no-money world, we often don’t have the opportunity to call on our creativity. And we certainly don’t know how to harness it when we need it most.
In the Storymakers online writing class that became Raise Your Voice, we decided to include a section called ‘STORY-KINDLING’ (kindling, as in the tiny sticks that help a fire light faster). In STORY KINDLING, we show you the way to your creativity with exercises that ignite the ideas and energy that just need a bit of fuel.
These are insider’s tips we’ve discovered along the way that help especially when you’re maybe in the middle or near the end of a project, and your enthusiasm fizzles out and you know there’s something deeper/edgier/more poignant still to say, but your mind insists on darting across the lines you’ve already scratched out.
3. You’re not writing about the topics or stories you’re passionate about.
It’s hard to stay on top of the essays about Shakespeare and Grapes of Wrath. And you need to study the classics—and the fundamentals—so you can go on to create writing that matters in your own style and voice.
Unfortunately, in the classroom, we just don’t get an opportunity, or enough opportunities, to write about the things that really peeve us off.
In one of her blog articles about finding your voice, memoirist and memoir writing instructor Theo Pauline Nestor tells a story about why it’s so important to figure out what topics you “yearn to write about.”
One of my students who often experiences block noted in a recent class discussion that when she wrote a blog post about a topic that made her very angry, she had no problem staying on task and her reader response was enormous.
“So what else are you pissed off about?” I asked her and I ask myself because our anger and our sorrow and our indignation point us to our important work, the topics through which we will find our vision and voice. When we surrender to these stories fully, we often find our voices rising off the page with clarity.
Outside classroom English classes and even traditional creative writing workshops, you uncover what your heart wants—and needs—to write about. And what follows on the page often has an incredible charge.