Practice your ability to stay open, and the writing will come
In the face of daunting things, like a college essay, it’s easy to close up and shut down. But it’s spring now: stay open.
If you think writing a college essay is hard, I also help people who are having babies. Now that’s a bit hard. And one of the hardest things to do is the necessary thing: to stay open, and open more. Babies require it to emerge. Your writing does too.
It’s spring and this is just what creatures do. Rabbits make more rabbits. Branches make buds. Buds crank petals apart and drink up sunshine. The sky seems bigger for longer. Baby turtles linger on their warmed rocks. Teenagers linger on the warmed street. You’re a creature; you can act like one.
- to knowing yourself better than you ever have
- to learning about new schools you’ve never heard of
- to new interests that are even vaguely tugging at you
- to that new friend you met in group chat from a very different part of the country
- to next school year being less isolating
- to new paths, majors that differ from what you always thought or feared you’d do
- to being comfortable with the uncomfortable parts, especially looking at your own fabulousness and flaws
- to learning about people and cultures
- to recognizing your own blind spots, and that there are always more
- to figure out how activism verbs in you. What makes you mad, wakes up your compassion? What are you doing?
- to the questions that seem too big.
(I have to use that bulleted list format so google will stay open to this post. Isn’t life weird?)
It’s spring, stay open. The baby turtle is not asking permission to soak in the sunshine.
The road is very open right now; if you’re applying to college, you have some time. And you want to use time wisely. Be curious, be interested, be alive. Even with all the crazed grief of the past year, be alive, be open. Trust me, that will be felt on the page.
There is a cost to not being open, and it’s big. You miss life.
Write it down
What does “stay open” mean for your writing?
Writers notice things acutely. Your ability to see is your ace. So is your ability to tell the truth. So is your self-awareness, and your awareness of others– your place in the world. You can strengthen all these things.
I recommend journaling daily. You can be very casual about it. Set a timer for 5 minutes and don’t stop writing the entire time. Stay open; wedge the doors of your mind open with your pen, pencil, or typing fingers. If you’re working electronically, keep a running document, with the date of each entry.
Writing not yet your thing? Use phone voice notes, and keep an audio journal. Talk it out to yourself. Same routine: 5 open minutes.
You can start with a crumb, a detail, something someone said, a passing thought, a favorite drink. You can literally start with anything. That’s what life does. Put it on the page, or say it out loud, and keep going. It’s sounds ridiculously simple because it is.
Try to do this at least five days a week.
Especially take the time to do this when:
- you learn something (anything) new
- you feel your brain or feelings light up around facts or feelings
- someone gives you feedback that helps you see something true about yourself– good or bad
Stay open. Your college essay is waiting for you down the road, and when it comes time to *really write*, you’ll be bursting with material.
The clarity, warmth and flexibility you allowed for will come through. Your honesty will touch or tickle someone. The little stories you gathered will bear fruit.
Help! Staying open/writing is too hard!
Nah, you can do this!
Need help getting started with writing routines, or someone to help you with the material you gather? We got you covered!
And if staying open is proving hard, we have some special exercises for you to make it easier.
Contact us for support that feels good. We’re learning from the daffodils right now how to show up and expect goodness.