Let’s say your sink has exploded, your significant other is more significant with others, your pet is sick, the roof is on fire but not in a fun/party way, you’ve been told off by people you respect, your job is a soul-draining vampire that has clamped down on your neck and won’t let go, you are frustrated, mad, and sad.
But you still have to write.
First of all, what the hell did you do? Anger a gypsy? Incidentally, some friendly advice: when a shaking crone who is obviously a gypsy comes into your bank to ask for a loan, just give it to her. Seriously.
Sorry to any gypsies who were offended by that potentially racist remark. Please don’t make me grow a tail.
Anyway, life sometimes sucks ass through a crazy straw. Gross, I know. But I weave words, no matter how horrible the image. Some metaphors are not for everyone. Some are just for me. I hoard them in my head. It is so dark in there sometimes that I…
Let me start again.
Anyway, life can… be difficult. Better? You’re such a delicate lily. Let’s resume.
Where was I? Difficult. Life can be. So what does a writer do when the crazy straw gets pulled out and life starts puckering up?
Just shoulder on and keep writing.
Here is where writing is more craft than art. You can’t wait for the muse to text you for a meetup. Muses are, well, unreliable. I love them, certainly. But if you wait around for one, then you may be waiting a while. Especially if your life is blowing up.
So do what I do: just wing it. Start with placing anything on the page. You can search online for writing prompts, or you can set out to purposefully write the worst story you can imagine. Throw in every cliche in be book. Then throw in the cliche about there being a book of cliches that you can consult. Also, toss in the kitchen sink because that metaphor seriously needs to go.
In fact, I challenge you to write as terribly as possible. Did you know there is a contest for that? It is called the Bulwer-Lytoon Fiction Contest, named after Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who was indeed terrible. Ever read the sentence, “It was a dark and stormy night”? That’s the guy what wrote it.
But that once sentence does no justice to the first paragraph of his book Paul Clifford. Here it is in its entirety.
Not the book, the opening paragraph.
It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
I personally think that every book should start with a long, discursive description of weather conditions rather than jumping right into anything that actually matters.
What I am really saying is in the 1830s they had time to kill when they weren’t dying of smallpox, or cholera, or planetary misalignment, or whatever disease the had at the time.
Anyway, there is an actual “bad fiction” contest. On a rainy day after something terribly inconvenient like your stove suddenly turning sentient happens, enter the contest.
My point? Where did I put that damn thing…
Write. Just keep writing whatever drivel comes to mind despite the heartbreak or joy or whatever. Writing is, indeed, a craft. Writing is something you fret over and ache about. In writing, you both create and destroy.
So when bugger all comes out of your brain, write anyway. Like breathing, just keep doing it. Especially if you don’t want to.