How do I come up with things to write? I want to be a writer, but right now I have writer’s block and the words aren’t coming. I have an essay due in my class for creative writing so I need a quick answer.
Here’s what you do. And pay careful attention to what I am about to explain.
Now before you roll your eyes and quit reading, let me tell you a story about a kid with an incredible stretching stomach.
This kid’s pals used to travel far and wide simply to dare him to eat things because this kid had a gift. And by “this kid,” of course I mean me.
I could eat two large pizzas with no problem. Buffets? I laugh at buffets. If you would have cut a bowling ball into bite-sized pieces, I could have eaten four and still had room for layer cake.
My buddies would often buy a giant jar of pickled eggs and watch me eat myself silly while chanting, “PUKE! PUKE!”
Today, these friends are all insurance salesmen, dentists, and chiropractors. You have to worry about America’s youth sometimes.
But anyway, I would eat eggs then go home. I would be so sick that I couldn’t go to sleep for at least four semesters. So I would stay up all night, writing. And so began my literary career.
Of course, the real trick was not the eggs. It was the friends. Because during these eating exhibitions we would have great conversations. And that’s what creative writing is, a one-sided conversation.
Have you ever paid close attention to yourself during conversation? Words flow. There’s no pressure to come up with something profound. Entire paragraphs fall out of your mouth like building blocks.
You speak a few words. They add a few. Someone tells a joke. More laughing. Friendships are strengthened. Memories are made. And Joey Cooper makes an air biscuit that breaks up the whole party.
So here’s my idea on curing writer’s block:
Imagine that you have hired one of those courtroom typists to follow you around all day, transcribing your conversations. Nothing fancy. You say it; the typist writes it.
At first, most of the manuscript will be garbage because half the pages will contain words like, “Uh,” “Hmmm,” or “air biscuit.” But if you remove those words, you will have something to work with.
Take, for example, this conversation I had with my mail lady on the porch yesterday.
She said, “Hey, how’s it going?”
“It’s going,” I said.
“Hot one, ain’t it?”
“Do you always clip your toenails on the porch?”
“My son used to clip his toenails in the kitchen. Drove me crazy when I’d find little pieces everywhere.”
“Your son and I have a lot in common.”
“I miss him.”
“Where is he now?”
“Long way from home.”
“It’s all good, he’s finally learning how to do his own @&%*! laundry for a change.”
Do you see what just happened there? I didn’t even have to try. These words happened on my porch. And there was even a bonus Hallmark Moment at the end.
So my point is…
I’ve forgotten my point.
Pardon me for a minute while my courtroom typist scrolls to the top of this page to remind us about what I was saying. While you wait, please enjoy this poem my cousin’s six-year-old girl wrote about me:
“Sean has tons of hair,
“He also has skinny chicken legs,
“But he likes country music,
Alright, I’m back. By the way, did you read that poem by my cousin’s daughter? Isn’t she a creative-writing gem? It was four lines, only seventeen words, and yet it managed to give me serious confidence issues.
Consequently, my cousin’s child also wrote this poem:
“You never know when,
“Your goldfish is going to die,
“His name is Eliot and he had a gross fishbowl,
“And I made my mom clean it all up,
“And she put him in the freezer.”
This could be the best poem of the year. It doesn’t rhyme. It makes no sense. And best of all, Eliot—who is sorely missed—has been honored by finding eternal peace next to the Totino’s Frozen Pizza Rolls.
Before I wrote this column, I called my cousin to get permission to use these poems. Do you know what he told me?
He said, “My daughter can’t talk right now, she’s outside.” Then he shouted, “HEY! Get those flowers out of your mouth! We don’t eat FLOWERS!”
If only we could all be like this child the world would have less writer’s block.
You were probably hoping that I had some advice in all this. But by now you realize that this is almost the last paragraph and if I had any advice I would have given it. Well, my advice is this: I just wrote you the suckiest few hundred words you ever read. And do you know what?
I had fun doing it.
Writing is not about impressing a teacher. It is about life. Live. Make mistakes. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Let someone special put it back together. Hang out with your friends. Laugh a lot. This makes a writer. Not deadlines.
And with each word you write, remember that some fool in West Florida with a stretchable stomach and a pair of chicken legs loves you.
Get some pickled eggs, they might help.