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September 14, 2013

A Word of Advice: Make time for fun, friends

The Daily Star

---- — Summer may be over, but that doesn't mean the good times should die. No, not at all. In fact, the death of the good times may actually be the death of your sanity.

 People are interesting creatures, ones with needs. Without eating, sleeping, drinking or socializing, they will fail either physically or mentally. This goes most for times when your life goals are dictated by bells and numbers — school. With school here it’s important to remember that you’re not just a student, you’re also a human being.

“All work and no play makes jack a dull boy” — an old quote with plenty of modern relevance. While hard work is important, hard play is a necessary supplement to make the work worthwhile. Real-life experience is what fuels creativity in writing and work, after all, no story is truly and 100 percent made up. As any English professor with say, all works of fiction are derived from other works of fiction, blended together in just the right way to convey a certain message the author has had bouncing around his head for a while. There are other ways to unfold stories besides reading them — one good way of doing this is experiencing them.

Think about all of the works of fiction and non-fiction alike that revolve around human strife, struggle and challenge. While some experiences may be stressful, or even downright bad, there’s nothing that can happen that can’t be learned from. Some of the greatest literary works derive from awful experiences.  “Angela’s Ashes,” “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” “Schindlers List," all stories of hardship that inspire others and make them reflect on their own life and experiences, either making them want to be better people or making them feel fortunate for their relatively pleasant circumstances. Without these experiences, none of these great things would have ever been put onto paper.

What does this have to do with school you ask? Well, in school, writing is critical, along with motivation to do other things — such as repetitive, awful, dastardly, cruel, and preposterous math problems. A smile session has equal value to a study session in academics, as rigging yourself robotic will hardwire your thought process and make doing things like critical thought assignments very difficult for your now-boxed-in mind. This is why it’s sometimes good for your mind to focus on odd tasks, such as humor and gossip, to charge your creative thought process while at the same time

keeping yourself from entering a crippling state of boredom or depression. You and you friends’ time together can make stories, build ideals, heighten your sense of humor and wit, or even inspire you to think in entirely new ways. 

People rub off on you, and you bounce off of people. Ideas bouncing off of people makes them sharper and more effective to your potential audience, or even your teacher when writing anything from a story to English, to an experiment in a science class.

Now, of course I’m not telling you to simply drop all studying for buddy time because the guy in the newspaper said so, but all I have to say is, maintaining your sanity and maintaining your average go hand-in-hand. Always make room for the friends, experiences, stories and memories, that will eventually make up the content of all of your future endeavors, academic or otherwise, and if you ever do run into a road bump in the creative process, something like writer’s block, just reach into the back of your mind, those dusty old neurons rustling throughout the dark corners of your mind, who knows, you may end up wiping the dust off of a new-old classic.

Austin Czechowski is a junior at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at, or send him a letter to “Teen Talk: A Word of Advice,” C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at