Updated: Jun 3
Hello again! It’s been a while (two months and a day, to be exact) since I’ve written my first blog post. Since then, I’ve graduated college and entered a much-needed, prolonged vegetative state, but now it’s time to be productive and bring Round Table Editorial into the world!
If you’re reading this, I think we can agree that few things are more discouraging than a massive case of writer’s block. Getting stuck in the middle of a story can be for a list of reasons: you’re either facing a giant plot hole, searching for a fragment of inspiration to push through a slow point in the plot, or wondering how to get your character in and out of a certain situation. Maybe the scene you scripted is not going according to plan, or maybe the story simply was not meant to be.
Been there, done that. It doesn’t exactly get easier, though. As a lifelong writer I have countless unfinished projects floating around on my laptop that I may never touch again. I eventually got stuck in a rut that took me years to learn how to overcome. Disclaimer: what I learned is not foolproof, but it certainly helped when I needed the initial spark that brings a story to life.
The first lesson I taught myself was to write with spite.
I was not actively telling myself this as I wrote a story full of characters inspired by my real-life nemeses; it just…happened. I had the idea to write about a woman who reaches a breaking point and commits deadly crimes, but I didn’t know where to start or how to reach the part of me that would be able to write such a thing. That is, until I felt like I could relate to such a wounded, angry woman.
Turns out, I had to have the worst case scenario pull that dark, spiteful side of me. I had the idea for “darlings” mere weeks before life had completely blindsided me. The only way I could recover was to base each character in the story off of each person who hurt me at that time, and to have my unhinged protagonist commit crimes against them, as one does. I feel like this has been an age-old given in the writing community: if you hurt a writer, they’re just going to make you a character in one of their stories and give your character a long, painful death. I laughed at this “rule” until it became a truth for me. Now, I feel I am further along in my writing career than I have been my entire life because I found a way to use writing as the ultimate coping mechanism. I discovered that my writing has to be deeply personal in order for me to care about it at all. Yes, that means I can usually identify with my main characters in more ways than one. I put a piece of myself in each story and subsequently feel victimized anytime I get a rejection email from a literary magazine. Despite taking deep offense to any rejection, I feel a renewed attachment to my work all because I needed a place to channel some white-hot spite about a year and a half ago. “darlings” still holds a special place in my heart, and I hope it will find a home in a literary magazine some day.
So, if you’re staring at a blank Word document or flirting with a fledgling story idea that you can’t quite flesh out, I recommend starting with using your craft to cope with whatever may be troubling you. Even if it seems insignificant, don’t be ashamed to inflate the situation into a wild story with fair maidens and unicorns, or something like that. Make yourself the main character, too. Make it whatever you want it to be, and don’t worry about perfection. The goal right now is not necessarily to write something worthy of publication (though that is still possible), but to write something that makes you fall in love with writing again, even if it is wacky, senseless, or spiteful. Once you’ve dusted yourself off, come back for the next blog post to read more about how to personalize your writing process.