There are days when I can write effortlessly. I can picture my character(s) in my mind’s eye. Clearly.
I can see and feel the surroundings they find themselves in. I can gauge their mood and ratchet it up or tone it down. They begin talking and I type or write quickly, making countless spelling and grammatical errors to just get it down. I know I can fix that later but a host of ideas are swirling around in my head for them. Some funny, sad, thrilling, touching, disgusting — whatever. It’s as if a tap has been turned on.
Then the well dries up, the tap is turned off. There’s not even a drip anymore.
It’s maddening this thing we do — write and try to drum up stories. What makes one day different than another? Is it something I ate the night before? Do I need a glass of wine to bring out my elusive muse? Or was it the second glass I had while talking to a friend or family member last night that drove the little rascal back into his (lately, my muse has been male and mischievous) hiding place? Do I need to go to the gym and walk quickly on a treadmill or lift a few weights to inspire him?
Maybe he just doesn’t want to play today. But I can show him who’s boss here by teasing him with a word….or a phrase. It could be a word I found by fluttering the pages of my dictionary (yes, a real dictionary), opening it and pointing.
It could be a phrase from one of my favorite writers/artists/comedians or a snippet of conversation I heard; one that I found appalling, insulting or inspiring from the guy behind the counter at the deli I stopped in to buy a pound of turkey from or a person I eavesdropped on while riding home on the train last week.
I can force him to step out into the light where I can see and talk to him. Infuriating little imp that he is.
That wise advice being set forth, here’s the challenge:
The word is: Jejune.
The phrase is: “You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?”—Steven Wright, comedian.
Now, write a brief story/dialogue or a portion of that great novel you’ve got going with one or both buried somewhere within it. Don’t worry so much about the phrase — as long as it has the general “idea” of the above. Weave a character around them.
Leave it in the comments section or direct me to your blog. Share your own word or phrase.
I’ll deliver mine tomorrow. Happy writing.