Writing is difficult – especially when what you’re writing will be published on the internet, where anyone and everyone can read it.
I started this column in last fall hoping that it would help me improve my writing. I’d always enjoyed the rewarding feeling that comes with putting your thoughts down on paper, and I’d reached a point where I wanted to write more than just essays for English and history classes. As someone who truly loved writing, I thought, “How hard can writing a column be?”
It didn’t take very long for me to eat my words. I struggled a lot with my first few columns. I’d sit at my desk with my fingers hovering over the keyboard, gazing at the blank screen in front of me. It was perplexing – thoughts would come, I’d sit down in front of the computer, and my mind would go utterly blank.
I felt as if I had been muzzled – almost like there was something constricting my throat, killing the words before they could come out. It was fear, I realized – fear of judgment. I’d come up with an idea and then talk myself out of it, dismissing it as something that people would only laugh at. There was indeed a muzzle – but it came from myself, not from an outside source.
This phenomenon of self-censorship is a common ailment among people my age. It manifests itself in subtle forms, like the way that most students try to fit in among their peers. It can even be seen in the way popular slang and other elements of pop culture spread like wildfire. The truth is, many adolescents today are afraid to stand out. They prefer hiding their opinions – or, even better, getting rid of them altogether – so that they may fit in with the collective mind.
A good example of this is the typical reaction I get when I ask people if they’d like to write an opinion piece for WSPN. Blank stares are frequent. Downright refusals are common. But most ubiquitous of all is that infamous excuse: “I don’t have an opinion.”
Frankly, I’ve never heard anything so ridiculous. Everyone has an opinion – even if you’re neutral on a topic, your neutrality still requires you to take a stand. People don’t refuse to write opinion pieces because they don’t have anything to say – it’s because they’re too scared of what might happen if they say it.
Now, that’s not to say that saying what’s truly on your mind is easy. Even after writing the column for almost a year and a half, I still struggle with putting thoughts onto paper. I still subconsciously censor myself at times, deleting what could be perfectly good sentences because I’m worried about how readers might react.
Writing is an inherently personal act. When you write, you put a piece of yourself onto the paper. It is undeniable that such action requires courage. Writing strips away any facade, revealing the essence of a person’s being. And in doing so, it also provides the writer with a clear reflection of themselves. So I strongly encourage you to put the pen to paper – you might just learn something about who you truly are.
Opinion articles written by staff members represent their personal views. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent WSPN as a publication.