When You’re A Twenty-Year-Old That Wants To Write


by Emma O’Shea 

I sit in a small coffee shop as the light dissolves below the snowy ground outside, to listen to the lyrical lines of fellow peers. Almost entirely made up of twenty-something-year-old Eau Claire university students, we gather around to share what we have written. Whether it be poetry, prose or none of the above, we share our stories, creative lines and emotional turmoil in hopes that it will resonate with someone. Some walk to the microphone taking a breath before looking up at the clustered crowd, while others march up to the microphone with solid conviction. Yet, everyone seems filled with a sense of elation as their final words twirled out of their mouths into the room. All of us came together to grow into the community of writing that nurtures our love for the written word.

Learning how to write is self-exploration. We use it to capture our nostalgia, create whirlwind stories, and as a therapeutic rescue to the thoughts that bombard us all. During the tumultuous years of college, we lengthen our concepts of who we are, and we mold our skills to different degrees. For some of us, this means taking the risk that accompanies trying to become a writer and sticking with it into the unknown. We gather in writing workshops and cluster together on cold weekend nights, to nurture our passions and encourage our bounds of comfortability to expand.

Delving into the uncertain world of writing is intimidating and nerve-wracking. When we are still attempting to get a concrete grasp on ourselves, we are also traversing an environment in which you must put yourself out in the open; raw and genuine. It’s something new and maybe slightly frightening, but also where we feel most empathetic towards one another. You take deep breaths up until you’re in front of the room with your poem between two shaking hands or you’re sending submissions into any contest you can find. It’s all about trying to find your own way when there isn’t a solid path or set guidelines that you should follow. 

Writing is an unnerving world for college students, but it’s something we push ourselves through because of what writing means to us. Writing is an endless means of creativity and expression, exemplifying the humanness of storytelling and connection through emotion. Through writing, we learn more deeply about ourselves. As Joan Didion wrote in her book of essays, The White Album, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”