By: Stephanie LaRue

My writing “career” started when I was 14 years old. I kept a notebook of what I called poetry, but was really prose about boys and why they didn’t like me. It was a composition notebook that I got for science class, but never used. The cover was wrapped in silver duct tape and covered with scribbles of my favorite Dashboard Confessional lyrics. One time I left it on the coffee table and my mom read it. She asked me about the “senior with the truck,” and I couldn’t make eye contact with her for days.

After that incident, I put my heart/soul/brain into an online journal, you know, because the Internet is a secure place for personal stories and feelings. I recorded every little detail on Livejournal. The first several years of entries were nothing more than what I did (or didn’t do) at school, what happened at band practice, and why I fought with my brother. But later, there were emotional milestones. I expressed the intense fear of moving out of my parents’ house, the devastation of a friend passing away, and the elation of falling in love.

Writing helped me identify my fears. It helped me organize my options when I felt like the world was closing around me. It helped me grieve over losing friends, relationships, and TV shows (because those can be measured on the same scale). Currently, writing helps me remember that I have things to say in an environment where there are already so many voices, and it’s much more comfortable to be silent. I’m challenged with every tap on the keyboard or stroke of the pen to be unique, and rise above the noise.

As much as writing saves me, it can be torturous for others. When I tell people I’m a journalist, I usually get a response like, “I wish I could write!” (I hope to whatever divinity is listening that these people don’t find my Livejournal). What those people don’t realize is that they can write. I was just as much of a writer at 14 years old with my Dashboard Confessional notebook as I am now with college classes under my belt.

I certainly don’t have all the answers about what makes a good writer, but that’s why this column exists. Writing comes in a myriad of forms, and there is no concrete set of rules for every style. Every approach is different. I’ll discuss what works for me, but also what works for other kinds of writers. Think of this as a collaborative project.

Most importantly, I want to make writing accessible. As I mentioned earlier, anyone can be a writer! It’s about knowing which rules to follow, and which to break. Everyone has some kind of imagination from reading, seeing, and living. That imagination should be explored, and writing is one of the many ways to do so.

Welcome to the Writer’s Block with Stephanie LaRue: Certified professional word-vomiter since 2003.