It's the day after my first semester of college has been completed. I sit in partial darkness, listening to a playlist that fills me with nostalgia for some strange reason, and staring at my computer screen while white Christmas lights reflect the contemplative mood I'm currently in.
That was a strange sentence. Nonetheless, the first semester of college was like a whirlwind. I learned things I never imagined I would, had experiences I never thought would take place, and met people that I never could have possibly dreamed of meeting.
Continuing free-writing was difficult during those months of busy schedule in which my free time consisted of Netflix, taking walks, or sitting on the floor and staring into (seemingly) space. I had goals for myself, and I failed. But that's okay. Because I've learned a lot. My brain has probably expanded since I started back in August. At least it feels larger.
Classes, professors, chapel, friends, not-so-friend(ly)s, strangers, adventures, sickness.
Every single one of these things (and more) have added to my knowledge. I've grown.
And here's what I've learned:
1. People are worth your time.
There's so much you can learn from just one person. Think about how much you can learn from the whole school. I know it's tempting to sit in your room for hours by yourself, but it's worth stepping out and actually interacting with people--or, at least, watching them from a distance.
PS: Professors make excellent inspiration. You know those quirky professors portrayed in movies? They're real.
2. There's something new to realize every single day.
Even if all you comprehend is a new existential question, that's okay. Questions like that inspire creativity. New plots, characters, and worlds can pop out of the ground from those questions.
3. Experiences make up a writer's portfolio.
I know a portfolio is considered a conglomeration of one's best work, but our brains have portfolios too, don't they? Everything you experience goes into those portfolios to be stored and dug up at a later time when your writing calls for it. That one person who when they laugh it sounds like they're about to die? Yeah, your brain kept that. Use it for a character. You were about to die within the first two months of school? Your brain kept that as well. Use it wisely.
4. Essays stretch you.
Most people hate essay writing. I don't. Writing an essay is a wonderful exercise that can cultivate voice, style, and thinking skills. We have to craft essays in such a way that our professors will give us, at least, a B. This means word choice musn't be bulky. Make it flow. Make it natural. Even if it's formal, put something of yourself in there. Ask questions. Make people think. There are endless treasures to accumulate from the adventures of essay writing.
5. Time is valuable.
It's easy to sit and watch Netflix for hours. It's easy to take naps and sleep in for hours. It's easy to sit and ponder. Good things, of course, but when you have free time...write as much as you can.
But also know it's okay to stop writing, save your work, and go on an adventure. Relationships and experiences are like gold and they will create fodder for your stories. #amwriting is an excuse that many of us use to get out of social interaction, but know when your story can be saved and go on the back burner--even if for only half an hour. If you don't make these life connections, you aren't going to have much to draw from. Live.
Have you been to college? What are some things that have aided you as a writer? Are there any certain moments that stick out to you from college?