Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Schreeeech-ing Halt

So there you sit, without the slightest clue what to write. In some circles, it’s called lack of inspiration. In other circles, it’s called writer’s block … and guess what ... you’ve got it. You came down with it a short (or maybe not so short) time ago, and hang-the-kangaroo-upside-down-with-its-britches-still-on, you can’t think of a darn thing to put down on paper.

You’ve tried thinking of titles first. You’ve tried thinking of characters first. You’ve tried thinking of new plot lines first. You've even tried finding self-help hints. None give you any inspiration whatsoever. So what do you do? (Give up, if only for the moment. Maybe something will come to you later.)

But something doesn’t come. And the longer you let it rest, the more insurmountable it gets. Pretty soon you give up hope too, and decide that a different career path would serve you better. You obviously aren’t going to be a famous author anytime soon.

It’s a pretty sad state to be in, crushed beneath the immense weight of that block, choking for air … I mean, inspiration. But ... what if I told you that you don’t need a jack hammer or a stick of dynamite or a ten ton ball to crack that pesky block and get it out of your way? What if I told you that you could break it with the simplicity of two little words, “what,” and “if.” Put them together and what do you get?

Well, let’s just take a look and see. Let’s pick one of those mundane and worthless story ideas that have been floating around in that empty vaccuum of grey matter known as your mind. Here's an example.

Mom was driving to the store when …
a. Her brakes failed
b. It started to rain
c. A happy little squirrel ran into the road

I don’t see much inspiration there. Do you? They all sound like the same old mundane and over-used story lines that none of us can bear to hear again. So, let’s come to a screeeech-ing halt, rewind, and start all over again … only this time, let’s put those two little words to work.

Mom was driving to the store when …
a. Her sex appeal failed
b. She started to cry
c. A monstrously scary creature ran into the road

Poor Mom. We can already see it’s going to be an eventful trip.

Let’s try another example. (This is fun.)

Detective Joe arrived at the crime scene to find …
a. The investigation well underway
b. The murder suspect already under arrest
c. The serial killer had struck again

Yawn. What if …

Detective Joe arrived at the crime scene to find …
a. The investigation team had already ordered pizza
b. The murder suspect gunning down the investigation team
c. The fingerprints on the murder weapon matched his

Poor Joe. We can already see he’s going to have to work late tonight (if he doesn't wind up in the slammer first.)

Okay, so your sleepy muse needs one more example. Here goes!

The Girl Scout walked up to the door and ...
a. Rang the doorbell
b. Quickly practiced her sales pitch
c. Put on her cheeriest smile

I’m not buying any cookies. How about you?

Okay, then. What if …

The Girl Scout walked up to the door and …
a. Busted the door down
b. Quickly released the safety on her gun
c. Picked her teeth clean with her fingernail

Well, I’m still not buying any cookies … but as you can tell, those two little words have inspired some most interesting thoughts. Just imagine the power you could have at your fingertips!

I definitely feel inspired now. In fact, I have so inspired myself that I’m going to leave you to your own “what ifs” and go work on mine. I want to see what happens next. Caio!