Writer’s block is where creativity goes to die. Fragments of ideas with such intense potential, swirling in a cloud of what-could-be, are left unrealized on a blank sheet of paper. It can be hopeless. Devastating. But there’s a way out.
Experience is the cure. Ideas are born of experience; fill your mind and fill your soul with what you want to write about. Want to write about sailing? Get on a boat and go somewhere. Want to write about the countryside? Rent a house or get a job in the countryside. It’s that simple. Over time, if you’re open to it, the stories will come to you.
For the greater part of a year, I was plagued by writer’s block. I missed deadlines, bled money, and nearly lost my publishing contract. I felt like I was circling the drain. Then I met Dianne. My lover. My muse.
Dianne sparked in me a resurgence of creativity I’d been too afraid to even dream about. From the moment we met, ideas began to swirl through my head. After our first date, I went home and wrote five thousand words about a couple falling in love in Paris. At 3am, I sent it off for my editor to find a it home in some travel journal. I fell asleep, assuming it was a fluke, but was still pleased I could get the words on paper.
The next morning, though, the spark remained. I composed story after story – stuff totally unrelated to my normal body of work but nonetheless important. Freelancing is all about production, and finally my production was back.
As Dianne and I grew closer, I realized how much I treasured her. After a few months, I’d written and sold hundreds of articles and vignettes and stories to publications all over the world. Each of the pieces had similar topics and themes, but every one of them dripped with sincerity. It was obvious they were written by a man in love.
The other day, I received an email from my editor. She’d spoken with the publisher of my last novel – the same publisher who’d threatened my contract after I missed the deadline for its sequel. They said that if I didn’t have a draft of the new book to them in six weeks, the contract would be terminated. I would owe them the advance they’d given me.
I didn’t have the money to repay the advance. Despite my newfound prolificacy, I’d neglected to work on the novel at all. For that, I had no inspiration. No spark. I had nothing. All I could write about was love and affection. Kindness. Positivity. I knew I’d have to talk to my muse.
I explained my situation to Dianne and, as always, she listened with interest and compassion. She offered advice – outstanding advice – and my creativity continued to soar. But as she spoke, I realized that all the new ideas I had were for the same topics I’d been writing about since I’d met her. My ideas were about marriage and starting a family. I wanted to start a new novel that followed a couple from their high school days as friends and ended with them, seventy years later, at Thanksgiving with their great-grandchildren. But I couldn’t write a new novel. I couldn’t live off the short stories and vignettes. I had to finish what I’d started for my publisher.
Then, while I stared at my beloved and listened to her words, I got the spark I so desperately needed. I smiled and thanked Dianne and embraced her. We made dinner together, watched our favorite movie, Amelie, and she fell asleep in my arms.
Near the end of the film, I carefully extricated myself from Dianne’s embrace and left her to sleep on the couch. The idea she’d prompted had me giddy. I was almost ready to write; almost ready to finish the novel whose ending had eluded me for so long.
I went into the kitchen for a moment. I returned to see Dianne waking up with a smile and telling me how sleepy she was. She glanced down at my hand and her smile grew quizzical. Before she knew what was happening, I had plunged a kitchen knife through her left eye.
She shuddered, the smile slipping from her face, and slumped forward. Her head rested awkwardly on the coffee table, balanced on the handle. Blood drooled onto the half-done crossword puzzle we’d been working on.
Sparks erupted within me. Characters and scenarios and dialog and plot points all came together in a rush so powerful I had to sit down. I held my head in my hands and put everything together in my mind. It was all there. Everything.
I sprinted upstairs and wrote. Before I knew it, the sun was coming up. A new day had arrived. I gazed at the computer screen and saw my finished product. It was a product that would have never been possible before I’d met Dianne.
For months, I’d only written sentimental, tender prose. It made sense. I was in a tender, sentimental relationship. I walked downstairs and looked at my beloved, now cool, her blood congealed on the coffee table. I thanked her and kissed the back of her neck. She was my muse to the very end. I couldn’t keep writing the love stories. Those aren’t me. I’m a horror writer. My writer’s block had to be conquered. Now it was. Like I said above, ideas are born from experience.