Hello, internet-dwellers and humans alike. It is I again.
What have you been doing with your life as of late, Cleo? you may ask (or not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) Excellent question! I have;
Watched Castle, watched Masterchef, watched Black Books, watched Supernatural, read Bleak House, read The Turn of the Screw, read Dracula, read the assorted works of Edgar Allan Poe, taken hours to reply to emails, taken hours to reply to text messages, listened to Nickelback, listened to Evanescence, listened to Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, and I have listened to hours of the equally bizarre and brilliant ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ podcast. We won’t even mention the episodes of Adventure Time and Friends I have managed to waste the majority of my mornings with for the last few weeks. I’ve also become quite familiar with the Shark Navigator vacuum cleaner, thanks to its recurring appearance on the Morning Show. It never loses suction! Its dust filters are out of this world! It can inhale cereal, pool table balls and small children simultaneously without breaking a sweat! I dunno, man…
Yes, dear reader – I, Cleo Phillips, have committed the mortal sin of procrastination. *Cue gasps of shock and horror*
But, to ensure this is not all about me – I’m here to give you a foolproof list of ways to kick writer’s block right where it hurts.
(Because, you know, listen to me. I totally didn’t just give you a list of how lame and utterly unproductive my life currently is in the paragraph above.)
1 – Coffee, coffee, coffee. That’s right – caffeinated products are a godsend for writers (pretty much everyone, really.) I’m serious. It is. Chances are, you are already aware of the brilliance of caffeine – so take this reminder and go grab yourself a coffee/strong tea/energy drink/HIGHLY SUGARY THING/whatever and procrastinate no more! And if you’re not informed, well, congratulations, now you are. I’m honoured to be the one who got to introduce you to the thing-that-tops-sliced-bread-even-Tip-Top. (Which would be coffee.)
I read a quote somewhere, from someone who’s obviously very wise, on the interwebs the other day – can’t remember where, but that’s beside the point. The point basically was alcohol gives you ideas; coffee helps you execute them. Alas, I am under the grand age of 18 and cannot yet consume an amount of alcohol adequate of giving me any ideas at all, but oh well – at least I still have execution!
(That just gave me a plot bunny involving someone’s head getting chopped off… Maybe I have enough brain to overcome lack of beer. Maybe.)
2 – Funerals/weddings/parties/other strange places where weird people gather (like cults. If you’re really brave.) Those places are overflowing with ideas – weddings, funerals, parties are guaranteed to have lots of people and people, I’m afraid, are essential to stories – even if you don’t like them a great deal they’re somewhat unavoidable. There are all sorts of flecks of writing gold in there. Great snippets of dialogue; cool scene settings; an array of possible characters; Aunt Alice and Grandma’s Cold War That’s Been Going On For 20 Years and Is Showing No Signs of Stopping Yet (great ideas right there.) Funerals and weddings are where it’s at – even if, unfortunately, that means your not-so-normal distant relatives are also there. I feel your pain, mate, believe you me – but it’s worth it in writing material.
So, if you’re feeling stuck, don’t turn down the invite to whatever you just got invited to because you ‘have to write,’ even though you know as well as I do you’re going to end up sobbing over a bag of Doritos, on your twenty-second episode of Big Brother, blubbering your woes to your cat even though he’s heard it all before. Accept the freakin’ invite for god’s sakes. Go, and bring a pen and paper, if appropriate. Hell, bring a pen and paper even if it’s not appropriate. There’s a good story in getting shouted out of your own uncle’s funeral because you were too busy scribbling notes to say a speech.
(Except, if you end up going with a cult, maybe don’t bring the pen and paper. I dunno exactly how those things work, but you could end up with malicious and vengeful leaders nailgunning a bullseye to your face. You have been warned.)
‘But I haven’t been invited to a wedding/funeral/party/cult,’ you may say. Who cares – ever heard of gatecrashing? I’m about to give you a helpful life tip here, so listen (read?) closely.
Ever heard of the story of the bloke who turned up to the shops in overalls, walked right in, put a fridge on his wheelie and left with it in broad daylight? Well, you have now. Obviously, he wasn’t meant to take that fridge – a.k.a he nicked it. But he looked confident and like he was meant to be there, by casually strolling in and just taking it. And who would question him, anyway? You’d look like an idiot for asking a maintenance man if he’s really supposed to be taking that away. More than likely, he’s going to give you a withering look and tell you to go away (except probably with more profanities. He’s a maintenance man, after all.)
The point is, if you look confident and give out plenty of withering looks, you’ll most likely never be questioned for anything again in your life. Which is why you can gatecrash your event – just walk in and introduce yourself as Aunt Sally or Uncle Bob and look shocked at anyone who seems to not recognise you. (How could you? Why, I’ve known you since before you were in control of your own bladder! Show some respect, young man!) More than likely, you’ll get at least a few people pretending they know who you are (which will give you a good laugh, along with plentiful plot bunnies.)
3 – Dude, just write! This is getting way too long already (I’m a writer; I’m wordy. Forgive me) so I’m just cutting to the chase of my third and final point – get some words on that page, son.
Just write some words! Doesn’t matter what words. Invent a scene in your head and don’t think; just write. Pick a random song and write a chapter based off that. Go to a dictionary site and pick the word of the day as your inspiration word. Google some cool names, invent a random charrie, and just go with it. Write fanfiction of the last book you read. Make a shopping list. Make an after-apocalypse shopping list (baked beans, bottled water and the biggest revolver they’ve got!) It doesn’t matter. The point is the words. Write some.
Off to follow my own advice, (or watch Supernatural again… for shame, Cleo, for shame.)