|The necessities of writing.|
CHICKEN NUGGET CURE FOR BLANK PAGE BLUES - BY SHAYNA MATTHEWS
Chicken nuggets, bread, milk, eggs. A short list, but it's much more than a grocery list. It wields the power to tell an incredible story. Of course, the 'incredibility' of the story rests solely upon the mind of the author. (Well that, and the characters' willingness to cooperate).
I fear it's safe to say, virtually all authors have secrets. Some more so than others. We're a tricky lot, we have to be. Writing books is a daunting task, after all. We will stare at a blinking cursor for hours, only to lie awake all night running plots, scenes and characters through our minds like an old movie. Most of us live on a scandalous amount of caffeine, but that isn't much of a secret, is it?
The secret lies within the writer and how we deal with the darker side of writing. What do we do when the words just won't come? Some are inspired by music, (always one of my favorite methods for coping with any mood or crisis!) or by sitting in a cemetery with a notepad and pencil. Travel-the exploration of someplace new can often stir the creative juices, but what if you can't manage any of the above? What do you do when its just you and a blank screen/paper? The showdown at high noon, words at twenty paces. You hope.
I have a simple method of coping with the fearsome blank page blues, and yes, it includes chicken nuggets. (Bettin' you'll read the next line, now won't you?)
The chicken nugget cure for writer's block came from one of my elementary school teachers - oh, how I wish I could recall her name! She told us a grand secret--one which stuck with me over the years--really nothing more than a simple trick to prod the flow of words. A blank page may be that--empty, but it is LOUD in silence.
Indecision(my worst foe), intimidation, fear, and a host of other insecurities can sometimes rear back and stampede across that blank page. When faced with such cursed evil, beat it back with something I call the Chicken Nugget Cure. Set a timer for, oh, say fifteen-twenty minutes. During that time, the point of your pen MUST NEVER leave your paper. If you're typing, you MUST NOT stop. Not once. I don't care if your goal is to write the next bestseller, a monthly blog, or a letter to a friend. If you set your alarm for twenty minutes, write down whatever comes to mind for those twenty minutes. If you don't know what to write, write just that. "I don't know what to write. I need to get groceries. Let's see, Zane needs more chicken nuggets. He loves those dinosaur shaped ones, I hope they have them. Chicken nuggets, bread, milk, eggs." If nothing else, reading back over the direction of your mind, recorded on paper, is amusing.
More often than not, however, you will fall back into the realm of the written word, having demolished that loud emptiness. One page will fall into another. Don't let the timer stop you. Keep writing, follow the chicken nugget pathway of your brain...let it lead you where it may. Your brain will flip through channels, like a taped down PAGE button on the remote control. Jot down your grocery list, (don't forget the nuggets!), swim through the barbecue sauce sidelines and I promise, you'll find yourself exactly where you want to be...writing your next epic masterpiece.
What are YOUR favorite literary secrets?
"A Spot in the Woods" is Shayna's nonfiction short showcased in a wonderful anthology collection of personal stories about leaving childhood behind. "A Spot in the Woods" deals with the memory of a childhood bond shared through historic play...a bond which tragedy just could not break. You can find this story in "Memories from Maple Street, U.S.A: Leaving Childhood Behind".