Feeding the Beast to Keep Him at Bay

I’ve seen it countless times while doing promotions for our books and even before I was with Dark Continents; all the same tale tell signs were there, and they all went something like this…..

“Help! I can’t write! I have writer’s block!” Then the downward spiral starts after his statement has been made, and I’ve seen it hit hard and heavy with some writers to the point of their quitting the craft all together. This is very sad, but it happens. Thankfully this has never happened to me and nor do I see it happening in the near future. Why? I have a healthy bin of treats and food to keep this ugly thing well away from me to keep him sated and very content.

This little blog will be short, I won’t take much of your time. You should be writing anyway! But I do want to give some tips to avoid the Beast that is ever lurking at our door.

If this beast has come barging in your front door and latched on to you nice and proper don’t fight it. It’s way stronger than you think. Now what to do? Do what they say do if you’re the unlucky person who is being attacked by a bear. Simply, play dead. I.E. forgot about writing all together for a few days or even a week. Go do things that you love doing and don’t think about writing, story, plot, characters or anything else. Just relax, rest and have a little fun. More importantly don’t say or even think the beast’s name.

Now, your few days or your week are up, now what? There are a few things to do. Read on. Don’t jump in full barrel and try to plot out the greatest story ever told or the best trilogy ever written. It won’t happen, well it might but the odds are well, I don’t even want to do the math. Start small and don’t write anything yet, yes, I said that, don’t write anything at all yet. Well, what do you do? Take a walk and then talk that walk at the same time every day or get on your treadmill or go for a drive, but do this at the same time each day. Look around, play the ‘What IF’ game while you walk or whatever you decide to do. Don’t be hindered by reality, let your imagination out and let it run rampant while you’re walking. Anything is fair game while doing this no matter or silly or how great it sounds and when you finish don’t write anything down you’ve thought about. Put it back up in the mind and let it simmer a while and mix with the other things you’ve thought about.

You can start writing now, but start simple. Well, what do I write about? Simple things. Here are a few. Write a one to two page conversation with your spouse or one of your parents or someone that is very close to you. You most likely know what they will say if they are that close to you and this requires little concentration. Consider this a little warm up exercise.

Another writing exercise is imagine yourself at the start of a city block. But the fun part is that this block is yours and yours alone. Write what you see while walking down this block. Now, it can be anything contained in this block again don’t let the real world intrude, it can be a space port, a wild carnival just moved in, or the wilds of the land have moved in with a vengeance. It’s up to you, but don’t write more than just the block. Don’t detail too much just write what your mind sees while walking. This also should be about one to two pages in length.

Go to a mall and sit down on one of the benches there and watch people. See how they interact. See them laughing with one another, see the hurried pace they have, watch and note the stressed out people and how they don’t interact. While doing this play the ‘What If’ game again. Let your imagination go wild. What if one of the people got suddenly jerked upward through the roof by something unseen? What if (if your mall has a central display fountain) the pipes backwashed and all the mall’s sewage got rerouted to the fountain and with a healthy little dose of electrical surge to the pumps the fountain started gushing fecal matter high into the air and onto the shoppers? Oh, what a funny story that would make. You get the idea? Good.

Most importantly start reading and keep reading every day. I think this is one of the most important things a writer can do above all else. This is the main course that feeds the beast and keeps him sated and his eyes away from your front door.

If you don’t have a set writing time, now is the time to make one. We are very trainable creatures so allot a time to where you can sit down and write. If you only have an hour devote that hour to writing and nothing else. After a while your mind will grow accustomed to this time and you will be very surprised to find out that you will start to know when it’s almost writing time and if for some reason you miss that hour your mind will let you know about it.

After doing these things your mind should have eased up some and not be on red alert screaming, “Condition Red – Condition RED!, Oh shit! Writer’s Block can’t write….dream over…career over!”

Hopefully your mind will have come up with enough stuff that your overloaded with ideas, and this is the time to explore those ideas and see if they lead anywhere to a good story or a novel. Continue to do these exercises daily as well. What If is a great game to play, one that fuels the imagination and that of course is what we fictions writer’s use mainly so keep that well fed as well!

An idea can come at any time and from anywhere and from two things meshed together. I will give you one of mine that happened a few days back and then I’m done.

I was walking through the house with a copy of Dracula. I was bringing it to work for a co-worker to read. I passed the TV and something on one of the channels were talking about time travel, enough so that I stopped to listen to the theory. I looked down at my book and then back up to the TV. What if a vampire could time travel? WHAM! – there ya go.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a game to play and a walk to take.

About S.L. Schmitz

S.L. Schmitz lives in Indian Trail, NC with her husband and son. There is an ever-changing menagerie of cats who graciously allow the family to share the house with them. In addition to reading and writing, she enjoys scrapbooking, drinking martinis, and making snarky comments about a variety of topics. Feel free to email her at thedeadgirl25(at)yahoo(dot)com
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