Caleb’s Concepts: Overcoming writers block


Caleb Garbuio, Columnist

Writer’s block. That dreaded moment when you are finally ready to work on your term paper, but cannot find words to describe your thoughts. Yet, this problem that every college student will at some point face, can be easily avoided by early preparation.

Professors tell students to make an outline to structure their stories. The intentions are for you to structure your paper around your main ideas. Then you fill the paper with additional information about that particular concept. Now, let’s look at an example.

Say we are writing a seven page book review. We want to summarize the story, explore themes and analyze motifs. So far we have three concepts, however, there is no guarantee that these three points will fill seven pages. This is where Google comes into play. Google different themes of a particular book to further illustrate concepts that you may have missed. Then develop these themes further, through your interpretation of the text. Use what I call the power of your experience to interject your own ideas to form a textual narrative. Just make sure you back it up with hard facts from the actual book. 

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, one useful idea to explore is the concept of love versus lust. You summarize the parts in the book that illustrate this concept such as our initial impression of Romeo who is obsessed with a young woman named Rosaline. Then he goes to a party, meets a new girl, Juliet, and shortly after they are married. Now, I’m not a marriage expert, nor is anybody really, but let’s say Romeo and Juliet rushed things. Added to this theory, is the fact that Juliet is 13 and Rome is anywhere between 13 and 17. Therefore, Romeo and Juliet is not a story about love, rather, it is a story about youthful angst love that brought a city together through tragedy. 

Coincidentally, here’s another idea, teenage angst, class privilege, masculinity and religion. Case in point, there is a lot that you can talk about in one book. However, it is important to bring something from your personal experience to the table. It is a lot easier to write about what you are interested in, than something you are not. After all, I ran out of ideas for this week’s column, and came up with something.