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Thrill of the Chase

ALICIA SMITH | Friday, February 5, 2010

I like to think of myself as a writer. It is my pastime, my passion and my profession (or, rather, it will be post-graduation). There is nothing like opening a brand new notebook and filling the pages with words.

It is how I express myself.  When I am angry, I write. When I am happy, I write. When I am upset, I write. 

Writing challenges me. I like to try to push myself to improve my work. I strive to create something better than I ever have before with each of my compositions.

Words usually flow easily from the tip of my Paper Mate pen onto my crisp, lined notebook paper. Sometimes, however, I face a challenge. It’s a classic dilemma, writers’ block. I have no topic, no idea and nothing to compose.

These are the moments every writer dreads. The emptiness of being without a topic makes me cringe. A sense of failure and incompetence washes over me. I need an idea and I need one now.  And so, I ensue the thrill of the chase.

When trying to chase down a topic, initially I brainstorm. I thin of everything from puppies to food to school to weather, etc. I write down any thought that pops into my head. Nothing is dismissed no matter how crazy it may be. When I run out of random ideas, I look over my list. If anything strikes me, I start writing. If not, I move on.

My next tactic is to just go off on my own and sit in silence. No music or television, just quiet. I go to the library or take a drive and let my thoughts wander. With each new thought, I imagine how I could develop it and turn it into a worthy subject. However, if nothing seems to work, then I try another tactic.

My next attempt is simple. I look around. I observer everything around me, people, nature, buildings and animals. If it is in my line of vision, I look to it for inspiration. Then I describe what I see. In my mind I describe the tree on the Library green, its bark rough like rugged mountains. The limbs branching out, trying to high-five the sky. The glistening green leaves shining in the sunlight.  I paint a picture of the landscape around me with words.

Sometimes these descriptions are the start of something magical. Other times they are woefully inadequate. 

If using my vision does not work, then I try another sense. I try to listen. During classes, I listen to my professors, not just for the course material but also for brilliant ideas that I can run with. I listen to the wind push against my window.

And then it hits me. I know what I want to say. I grab my notebook and my  purple ink pen, shut myself in my room and put it down on paper. In this moment, I find what I have been searching for. I have caught up with that idea that has continuously evaded me. I can now begin to write.