Friday, January 15, 2010

Writing Tip: Beets and Writer's Block

Most authors get writers block at some point in time. I'll admit, I'm still waiting for my first case, because I can't shut up to save my life and that seems to apply to my writing as well as my mouth. But I expect it'll happen eventually. And when it's nice to be ready.

So for all you writers who've been blocked, have you ever tried to take an object - any object - and imagined it in your blocked story? I mean, you simply glanced at the last sentence you wrote, copied it over onto a new sheet of paper (or word document) and popped an object into the next sentence.

Say, a beet.

Because beets are weird. They are so virulently pink that they look like something a mad scientist cooked up in his lab on a bad day when the cocaine supplies were low so he just picked a random magic mushroom to inhale. You can't deny it: beets are funky and crazy and just the teensiest bit disturbing.

But hey, in my opinion...anything that's weird and funky and disturbing has amazing potential for humor. Seriously. It's the unexpected. What could be more unexpected in a story than a beet? Or even better, a beet in the middle of a living room floor when a gay couple walks in from a hard day at work in the financial district.

How'd it get there? Neither of these two eat beets - in fact, one of the men doesn't even know what the hell a beet is, other than purple jelly from a can at Thanksgiving (yes, I'm pulling this out of the air as I speak. Just go with it.).

So...having a beet on the floor might be a little disturbing. You might have to check for intruders, or secret beet porn actors. Or a beet stalking cat who left it for you as a little present. And you'd at the very least put the beet up on the counter until you figured out what to do with it.

Then comes the next day, home from work as usual, and now there's one beet missing from the counter, and three beets on the floor. What would happen?

Could be, you look at the story and think: how the hell should I know? This is a freaking beet. What's it got to do with anything?

And maybe that's all you'll need to get over your block: annoyance over some irritating woman and her beet, wasting your time. Now you'll head back to sane-land and go write something that actually matters in your story.

Or maybe you'll keep the beet and just run with it. Like this-

"Well, there's one mystery solved."


"It wasn't a gay beet."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Well just look - there's three now. One was obviously a breeder."

Writer's block solved, all because of a beet.

But not a gay beet. I expect the little beet son is gay, though, or we wouldn't be reading about him on my blog, eh?

However, in all seriousness, if you're ever in a writing rut, something random like the beet can totally jump start things. It doesn't even need to be something that stays in the story, just something that gets the creative - possibly oddball - juices flowing. Or makes you wish you could write about your story instead of the stupid beets, and so it motivates that way. Whatever works!

Of course, there's danger down this road as well. If you don't stop yourself, soon you'll be thinking of beets more than you should. Like I just did. Sitting here contemplating male beets and wondering what, exactly, would be a beet's 'junk.' The twisty bit at the tip? Or the big, loooong green bit at the top?

Thoughts like these are a sign that the beet has outlived its welcome. Time to go, before it starts fornicating with the cauliflower.

And don't try to imagine that. Really. The image will haunt you. Forever. Rather like the beet, now.