Sometimes it just takes the right kind of push to get the words flowing across the paper.

There’s an in-joke among creatives that there’s nothing more intimidating than a sheet of blank paper. Yes, it’s ripe and fertile ground for whatever you choose to write or draw upon it… but taking that first step to get something down is filled with doubt, anxiety, even fear.

There are all kinds of reasons for people to get performance anxiety before writing, and Twitter user @utanokobako reminisced on her own tribulations when writing personal opinion essays for school, a very common assignment.

▼ (Translation of the original tweet and two follow-up tweets below.)

“I’ve never been especially good at writing personal opinion essays. But one time in high school, when I dodged the opinion essay assignment, the teacher finally called me out on it, and asked me: ‘Why didn’t you write anything?’
I replied, ‘I hate taking my inner feelings and externalizing them, because then they don’t feel like my thoughts anymore.’
The teacher then said, ‘Then write like how you just told me.’
I did, and I got a good mark. For some reason, I’ve never been quite as nervous about essay writing since hearing that advice.”

“That teacher was pretty unpopular, but now that I think about it they might have been the only teacher who made allowances for me out of all the teachers I met. This teacher told me, your words have impact. You could even do copywriting as a job. I don’t remember anything from physics class, but I do remember this. I’m very grateful for those words now.”

“Thinking back, I do remember feeling uncomfortable at having to think up ‘sentences that would appeal to teachers’. Sometimes I didn’t manage to express myself eloquently, but I was doomed to fail if I wasn’t writing from my honest opinions. Still, thanks to that incident with the teacher, I learned how to write short essays and then progressed to writing full-length reports at university. For better or worse, that teacher had a huge influence on my life.”

This story of a teacher willing to accept a student’s most honest impressions struck a chord with the people of Twitter:

“Thank you for telling me this. This is the kind of teacher I want to be, too.”

“I wonder if you unlocked that hidden kindness in the teacher’s heart because they also faced anguish when trying to express themselves? Perhaps your teacher had a similar experience to you as a kid.”

“I find that a lot of the teachers who are hated or mocked by the students are the best teachers. The really popular teachers were just like the popular jocks in school, and I barely remember anything about them.”

“That teacher accepted you just as you were.”

It’s true, as well, that writing from the heart tends to make for better essays. That being said, make sure that you exercise your tactfulness muscles at the same time… you never know who your honest essay might hurt.

Source: Twitter/@utanokobako via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso

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