John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

“I don’t know what to write”

August 16th, 2009

I guess I’ve always enjoyed writing but I have to give credit to Mrs. Lotze, my fourth grade English teacher, for really teaching me to approach the written word as an exciting challenge.  Every Friday, we’d have a half hour of free writing time – and the only catch was, we had to write something.

“But Mrs. Lotze, I don’t know what to write!” some frustrated student would inevitably blurt out each Friday.

“Then write that.  Fill up your page with ‘I don’t know what to write about’ until you’re so sick of writing that that something more interesting comes up.”  She was serious – and it worked.

I was no more than six lines through the busy work when I gave the explanation a second thought.  Something more interesting… anything could be more interesting… and the breakthrough:  I can write about anything.

After that first day, the free writing period became my favorite time in school.  Around that time, I also started bringing free writing into my own personal time.  I started a few stories about zombies and made crude attempts at building characters and developing a plot.  People I knew or video game heros could all be inspiration for a written story, and I could explore the details of any subject that I wanted to know more about or explore my opinions of.

Plot and charcter turned into research, and the love of writing simply reinforced my love of reading.

Now I write every day, to the point where its become a drag.  I don’t always get to write about what I want about, because the business world doesn’t work that way.  When I do find time to write for fun, I often don’t know exactly what to write about.

But I should know better than to use that excuse – Mrs. Lotze taught us that well.

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