When we were kids, our minds were free.
No rules or patterns to stifle our creativity. Every drawing was different. Every piece of paper a new opportunity for exploration. We had no idea what we were supposed to do, so we did whatever felt right.
And then we grew up.
Years ago I read the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The main idea is as we grow older, our creativity starts to collapse into repeatable patterns. We lose our inspiration.
Ask 20 adults to draw a house and you'll likely get 20 square buildings with a triangle roof and swirly smoke out of a chimney.
When's the last time you saw a house that actually looked like that?
The same thing happens with our writing. We get stuck in patterns that feel right, but are boring and repetitive to read.
As Harrison Ford famously told George Lucas:
You can type this sh*t, but you sure can't say it! Move your mouth when you're typing!
What we don't realize is we already have a built-in tool for improving our writing.
We use it every day. Always refining it. Correcting it. Swapping out this word for that word as we learn how to be more effective with it.
That tool is conversation. We write our own dialogue every day. By this point, we're pros. No one knows your character better than you.
When you have an idea for an essay, explain to a friend what your essay is going to be about.
That conversation? That's your essay.