Picture it: a writing room. Everything is set up perfectly — the keyboard has been cleaned, there is tea in a mug, steeping to perfection, and the lighting is just right. A writer, a person burdened with the purpose of creating fiction that captivates their reader, saunters over to the desk and sits. With a quick adjustment of their knuckles, a symphony of cracking joints serves as the prelude to a session of creation unseen since “let there be light.” Except …the writer’s hands remain sedentary. What should be a passionate tango of language dancing across the surface of the keyboard is nothing but a middle school dance where everyone is glued to the wall.
Writer’s Block. See, inspiration is fleeting, and there is only so much “I’ll give you something to cry about” you can tell yourself to get the words to come. Unfortunately, sometimes the words get stopped up. We can all hope that medical and literary science will come up with a word laxative to treat prose constipation, but we’re going to be waiting a while. Much like actual constipation, there are home remedies for the condition, and they aren’t always pretty.
For this week’s blog, I’m sharing some writing prompts that may serve as the literary castor oil and bacon grease that’s going to make you more regular (that’s the last constipation joke, I swear!).
[WARNING]: This method works for me. Every writer is different and there is no one best practice for the creative process. If you know of something that helps you with Writer’s Block, I would LOVE to hear about it, and I encourage you to tell me about it!
For me, Writer’s Block can really only be cured by a combination of two things: getting the process of writing in motion and absurdity. I’m talking about the kind of absurdity that makes your brain skip like a dirty CD in your first car. The levels of absurdity where you are standing in line behind someone at the store and they are demanding a discount because the Burger King next door didn’t have chicken nuggets. I am talking something so absurd, you are certain you’ve forgotten how the alphabet works for a minute after hearing it. I’m sure there is a science behind it, whether it reboots your brain’s cognition patterns or what not, but I am but a simple wordsmith. My knowledge on the theory begins and ends at “it works.”
Without further delay, let’s get those fingers moving and your brain malleable!
Prompt #1: Murder Mystery — In the run down part of your refrigerator, where the light from the bulb doesn’t really reach, there is the criminal underbelly of perishable foods. Bad things happen in the dark and no one talks about it. One day, you open the fridge and find that the left-over lasagna from the night before has gone missing, vanished without a trace. After grilling your partner, the kids, the dog, and even the cat, you find that everyone has an alibi and no one is a suspect. You don’t get your first lead until you reach for the Country Crock butter container (which you know damn well doesn’t have butter in it) and you find a clue: fresh marinara sauce. The carrots look nervous, the mushrooms vehemently declare they aren’t going to talk, but Mr. Dill will. Mr. Dill invites you to his club, the Pickle Jar, and he’s willing to point you in the right direction …for a price. Do you go? Do you keep looking for the culprit? Who would want to kidnap day-old lasagna and why? What is the angle here?
Prompt #2: No Receipt, No Surrender — It’s your first day working for Shopmart! It’s going to be a great way to make some extra scratch, get some exercise by being on your feet, and interact with people. Unfortunately for you, you offended one of the store managers and she is going to take her chin hair aggression out on you by making you work at the returns counter. It’s okay, you tell yourself, you’ll get back in her good graces by doing a great job and providing excellent service. Your first customer of the day walks in: a squirrel. An actual squirrel, carrying a Shopmart bag. The squirrel jumps up on the counter, already in a really pissy mood, and tells you it wants to return the popcorn maker it bought six months ago. You ask why and the squirrel tells you that it doesn’t pop acorns — clearly, it’s defective. You remember your training and you can’t take anything back that was bought more than 3 months ago. The squirrel gets pissed and wants to speak to your manager. The only manager on duty is the rusty battle-axe looking to dropkick you into unemployment. How does the conversation go? Does your manager make you take the return? Can you convert US dollars to acorns?
Prompt #3: Space Investing! — You can’t turn around without being inundated with commercials and ads about investing in the stock market and cryptocurrency. It’s to the point where you know that all the homeruns to get rich are all used up, so you start looking for the next great investing opportunity. You talk to a few advisors and none of them really “wow” you. Dejected, you get a coffee and sit on a bench, trying to figure out where you went wrong in life. All of a sudden, the clouds part, and a flying saucer comes down from the sky. Everyone is scurrying away in a panic, but they have financial futures because they bought into cryptocurrency when the getting was good, so you sit there and hope the flying saucer needs space-labor & they pay good benefits. The door opens and a green skinned alien, wearing a business suit, comes out and approaches you. His name is Mizzmak and he wants to know if you’ve successfully planned for your future. When you tell him no, he tells you he has the investing plan for you! What is he selling? What are the chances it’s a scam? What if the intergalactic commodities market IS the next big thing you’re looking for?
I really hoped this helped in some way. When I write these blogs on creative writing, it’s in hopes that I’m helping someone be the best creator they can be. Being a writer doesn’t necessarily mean you’re writing books — it could be screenplays, comic book scripts, radio commercials. All of that considered, I’m hoping that your creative wheels began turning.
Thank you very much for reading and I’ll see you on your next trip across the Millerverse!