Plan B: Wearing my heart on my sleeve inspires my writing

Bonnie Wong | Daily Trojan

Last weekend, I got a text from a close friend in response to a blog post I had published. He was concerned for my well-being.

Most of my blog ramblings are filled with biting analogies and vague allusions to the perils of heartbreak. This one was no exception. I had to convince him that no, I did not need an intervention. And that yes, I was fine.

This wasn’t the first time. In fact, my friend has voiced his concern about my mental health multiple times. He thinks I manufacture artificial dilemmas and take on other people’s problems for the sole purpose of having content to write about. At the end of our virtual exchange, he offhandedly asked, “Why do you always have to feel something? Have you tried writing about happy things for once?”

Sadness and anger have helped me cultivate some of my best work. Writing helps me sort through life’s turbulence. But creative freedom and deadlines create a conflicting dilemma that frequently throws me off balance.

Without a definite prompt, I’ll probably be floundering in writer’s block because most of my stimuli comes from the rollercoaster of emotions I feel in the moment.

Heck, maybe I don’t know what I’m getting myself into by being a columnist for the Daiy Trojan. I can’t sit around all day waiting for a wave of thought-provoking anguish to strike me before I can whip out my laptop and type up a storm. Interesting happenings that pique my interest, random snippets of telling conversation and, most of the time, conflict, are the main catalysts for me to begin writing open-ended pieces, but sometimes none of these things come to me by the time I submit my final draft to my editor.

Art by Shideh Ghandeharizadeh | Daily Trojan

Nevertheless, feelings are fickle. I’m a journalism major for crying out loud! News is rarely presented in a way with room for emotionally-charged melodramas, much less mine (and I acknowledge that it shouldn’t — after all, we chase objectivity). I can neatly put aside my feelings temporarily in order to complete those assignments, but as soon as that’s done, those emotions will most definitely resurface.

And no, just to clarify, I’m not some bitter individual trying to stir up trouble so the next boy that wrongs me can be the main character in a fresh takedown piece. This also isn’t a cop out. I’m not trying to make excuses and throw my hands in the air, backing away from all responsibility as a writer by saying that I need to experience emotions in order to start. I’m only 19 years old, and I feel that sooner or later I won’t be able to turn to the archives of brooding introspection or fish around for an emotional reflex every time I’m required to compose something new. It’s impractical, and although it’s produced some of the pieces of which I’m most proud, I wonder how long I can sustain this and how sane it’ll keep me.

This year, I’ve finally come around and begrudgingly acknowledged that I am someone who often wears her heart on her sleeve. I’m just eager to share that perspective through the things I discuss, and that’s not such a terrible thing, nor am I ashamed of it. As I mentioned, I’m only 19; I still have plenty of time to experience more of life.

While it might take a while for me to reconcile with my inner turmoil and, in the meantime, find other things to talk about creatively in order to meet those unforgiving due dates, all I can do is slowly switch gears and find motivation in the little things.

I should probably stop waiting around for “stuff” to happen but instead be open to creating inspiration independent of my feelings. Maybe sometimes, I have to accept that I just have to write to meet a deadline.

Bonnie Wong is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column, “Plan B,” runs every other Thursday.