Bypassing Writer’s Block
By Emily Chance
I couldn’t count the times that I decided, “hey, I want to write a short story or maybe even a book!” and I sit down at my laptop and open up a blank document. As I stare at the curser, every idea I’ve ever had about writing disappears in .35 seconds. Or worse, I get an idea, and I can’t figure out where to go from a certain point, and I end up killing off the main character or someone vital to the story line, and have to end the story at their deaths. Here is a list of ideas that I’ve found that help in these extreme cases of writer’s block!
1. Unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator is someone the audience cannot fully trust or doesn’t tell the full story. A master of this technique is Edgar Allen Poe. While writing A Telltale Heart, he wrote it from the perspective of a mentally ill man who is unable to control his impulses. If you haven’t read this short story by Poe, I highly recommend it. I have found that by writing from an unreliable narrator’s perspective, you can craft many ideas you want to write about in one story. If you kill off a character and decide you shouldn’t have done that, you can say, “sorry, what actually happened was…” Examples of unreliable narrators are: mentally ill, compulsive liars, or someone biased in “their side” of what “really” happened in a dispute.
2. Continuation of the story. If you kill off your characters, you can still continue the story! After all, a popular topic that many are interested in is life after death. If you kill off the main character, you can give readers your own spin of the afterlife. Are they transported to another place? Another life? Are they stuck screaming at the people in their lives with a feeling of desperation of needing to be heard?
3. Start with the character’s death. If you wish to write a story about a character and you end up killing them, you can always start with their death and then work backwards so the person who died retells the events leading up to their death. A book which has an idea similar to this is Sara Shepard’s The Lying Game. The television series adaption has absolutely nothing on the book series. This book series is one of my personal favorites.
While writer’s block is no joke, there are still several ways to bypass the issue. If worst comes to worst, you can always write about a writer who has writer’s block (I used this very subject when I had to write a sonnet in high school. I considered it one of my greatest works). If you are still having issues with writer’s block, then you can go take a walk, go get some ice cream, or procrastinate some more while angrily staring at the screen.
Edited by: Kristina Drendel
I Don’t Regret Community College (and Neither Should You)
By Kristina Drendel
I used to hate telling people that I went to community college before transferring to a four-year school. There was nothing inherently shameful in going but I often felt like this was something that would forever tarnish my reputation. It seemed like for some reason, whenever I told someone that I had committed to my local community college I was met with blank stares, or worse: “Oh, well, at least you’ll save money”. I was far from a slacker in high school and yet, the second I mentioned the words ”community college” to my peers, it seemed like I suddenly became a second-class citizen to them. Even my closest friends advised me against going to a community college and told me that going would be settling and putting too few expectations on myself. I was “too good for community college” they said, but somehow there I was a second-semester senior committing with nowhere else to go. Let’s back up. I had been fortunate enough to have gotten into a high-tier university, but my momentary joy was quickly shattered when my parents broke the news to me that there was no way I could afford it. My heart was broken and the other school I had been accepted to I had absolutely hated upon visiting the dreary central Illinois campus. The only option I had left was my local community college.
The day my friends moved to their respective campuses I cried my eyes out. I specifically remember feeling this huge sense of dread that I had just made a huge mistake and had no way of fixing it. Eventually, this feeling settled, and I started college with this absurd attitude that I was too good for it because that was what everyone had relayed to me. I started community college with the assumption that I would naturally excel in all my classes and there would be no need to study. I could not have been more wrong. My first semester, I took a course in Environmental Biology. I had taken A.P. chemistry my senior year of high school, so I figured a biology course at a community college would be a walk in the park. I cannot describe the shock that ascended me when I realized I would be ending the semester with a B in that class. I had done all the homework, gone to all the labs, and even did the extra credit assignments! Getting a B in a course that was, in my erroneous expectations, supposed to be easy hit me with the stark realization that community college does not offer easier courses than other colleges, and that the courses offered were of the same caliber as the ones my friends at their “prestigious” universities were receiving, for a mere fraction of the price.
Going to community college helped me grow immensely as a performer and allowed me to feel ready to continue my growth as a performer after I transferred. Throughout my two semesters, I participated in all three of the mainstage productions and was graced with the opportunity to take a master class from two prestigious musical theatre performers. My second semester, I even served as vice president of my college’s Performing Arts Club, and participated in an open mic night. Before going to community college, I was extremely insecure in my talent and often gave poor auditions. My time at community college gave me the confidence to pursue a career in musical theatre, and my experiences there allowed me to walk into auditions without having panic attacks anymore. If I had not gone to community college, I truly believe that my fear would have held me back from pursuing my passion.
Looking back, I find it incredibly pompous and absurd that I ever thought I could be too good for community college. My time there only prepared me to go on to great things in the performing arts, but also helped shaped who I am as a person. A year ago, I never would have thought I could go to karaoke and enjoy myself or walk into an audition with confidence, and yet today, I am able to accomplish both tasks with grace. It’s time we stop with the stigma surrounding community college that causes students to feel like they are second-best to their peers at other schools. Ultimately, the only thing that matters in the decision process should be where you feel happiest and most likely to succeed, NOT based on the opinions of other people. Oh yeah, and I also did end up saving a lot of money like everyone told me.
Edited by: Emily Chance