Writer enjoys process of exploration

By: Aaron Heimbuck

As many of you know, I am very passionate about writing. Often times I can be emotional and even “overly dramatic” in my pieces both independently and in the Hi-Line. For those of you who have gotten a chance to know me, you’ve seen a lot beyond the upbeat, funny, energetic and often times annoying kid that I appear to be. You’ve seen a much more emotional side of me. As easy as it is to judge a book by it’s cover, I urge you not to. First impressions are certainly important, but can often be misleading.

There are several ways people can reveal their true colors. For me, I do it through writing. Granted, my writing does not necessarily reveal all good qualities, but what is important is that it reveals who I really am and allows me to better understand myself. So, there isn’t exactly one objective to this article. I simply want to show everyone what writing has done for me and the immense amount of happiness it has provided. I also want to encourage others to find something they love and embrace it regardless of what people think. This won’t be a traditional journalism story, but hopefully the message gets across.

As cliché as it sounds, writing is an escape for me. I have told very few people this, but I suffer from bipolar disorder. Every day thousands of thoughts that often conflict with each other race through my head and prevent me from focusing. Every night those same thoughts hinder me from relaxing and keep me awake. It’s a vicious cycle. I go through periods of extreme highs and extreme lows that nobody, including myself, really understands. I’m indecisive, uncertain,  worried too much about people’s opinions and am constantly over-analyzing things. Sometimes I question myself so much that it prevents me from doing my best work or making the right decisions.

Writing helps me cope. Writing gives me the ability to take all those thoughts and spew them onto paper. Sometimes I can’t actually know what I’m feeling until I make what I feel into something that I can see. When I write, all those feelings of anxiety and sadness melt away, and I am able to think much more clearly. I’m not sure if I’m a good writer or not, but it makes me happy, and that is what’s important.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that society has made being emotional “uncool” and “feminine”. This baffles me. Why would showing emotion ever be looked down upon? Why should emotion be gender specific? Why should we be expected to put on an act and mask our true feelings for the sake of avoiding embarrassment? I will admit that I used to put on an act. I can also admit that I still do at times. As a male, I know nobody wants to be called “gay” just because he or she shares what’s on his or her mind with their friends. Sharing your thoughts is healthy and should not be categorized as feminine. Writing has allowed me to break the norm and not worry about being labeled. It has slowly allowed me to figure out who I am and be myself.

Have I figured it out completely yet? No. However, I have made huge strides in accepting who I am as a human being because of writing. Don’t be afraid to be passionate. Be emotional. Embrace those cliché and cheesy moments because great things can come from them. No amount of social status or popularity is worth your own long-term happiness.

This year, I took a big step as a writer. I went from trying to please everyone with what I wrote to being content with pleasing myself. I used to want everyone to like what I wrote, but I’ve realized that each person thinks differently and has his or her own idea of what good writing is. Of course, I still aim to intrigue readers, but I no longer stress over getting every last person to love it. I used to see criticism as a bad thing. I, being the overthinker that I am, would let criticism spiral me downward and upset me. I could literally have 50 people tell me that a piece of mine was great, but if one person told me he or she hated it I would freak out. This would ultimately prevent me from putting out my best work in the future. I’ve grown a lot since then and have learned to be proud of what I write as long as it pleases me. In the end, I am the only person who needs to be happy with my writing.

There is not one definite process when it comes to writing. Every writer has his or her own way of forming ideas, organizing them into words and editing the product. Whenever I did a writing project I would always stress about how I was going to lay it out and organize it. Recently I’ve developed my own way of putting out my work. I usually start out by coming up with a main idea. Sometimes this main idea changes. Then I jot down a few points I want to cover and begin writing my opening paragraph. From then on I jot down ideas and subjects I want to cover throughout the piece as a side note. Then, I work those ideas into the piece as I go.

My writing process is far from linear. I’m all over the place constantly tweaking different areas. You could say I’m functionally disorganized when I write. If writing is your thing, find a process that works for you and stick with it. Routine is important to me, but I have also learned to deal with curveballs. No matter what you’re doing, just find something that works and produces your best finished products.

Overthinking can be a killer. It’s a constant back and forth of not knowing what to do next. On one hand, you just want things to be simple and easy. On the other, you want a challenge of beauty and complexity, and you want to spill everything you’ve ever thought onto pages. I struggle with this as a writer. Throughout my writing experiences, I have learned to find a balance between simple and complex. There are times when I want to write so much that I get way ahead of myself and feel frustrated. Other times, I just want to write a simple sentence or two and call it a day. I still haven’t mastered this technique yet, but I have become a lot better at finding the place between too much and too little. Sometimes you need to add more detail to something to get a point across and paint a better picture. Other times you can say entire pages with just a few words. It’s all about balance. Writing has helped me learn that editing is never over. You constantly have to make adjustments in order to create the best work possible.

I’ve done a lot of preaching in this article so far about what I think is important. An idea that I know I need to work on is practicing what I preach. I need to take my own advice. My whole life I’ve been great at helping people and giving them good advice. I was always focused on others when I needed to focus on my own happiness. Writing has been extremely helpful with that. I have been able to discover who I am as a writer and a person, which has helped me solve issues that I struggle with. I am now able to come up with plans and advice that I can use to help myself.

My writing keeps me mentally and emotionally healthy in a way. It provides stability. It allows me to face reality and deal with the internal and external problems that I tend to avoid. This is perhaps the most important contribution writing has made to my life because if I can’t help myself I shouldn’t be helping others.

After reading this, it is easy to write me off as just another confused, overly dramatic kid writing a wordy article so people will tell him what a good job he did, but I promise it’s not about the recognition. I could care less if I win an award for this article or if everyone in the school hates it. I just want all of you to be aware that you have to be real with yourself in some way. For me, I found that through writing. You can find it  through anything: painting, basketball, music, teaching and so much more. My story is just one example of how finding your passion can also help you find yourself.

My advice to you, and myself, is to just stop thinking and do. Move forward. Stop trying to find answers to all your questions right now because it won’t get you anywhere. In fact, some questions are never meant to be answered. Don’t force things. If you worry too much, you’ll never take the risks you need to take in order to discover new opportunities. Just live your life, find your passion, and most importantly find happiness.

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