People ask me where I get my ideas. I always tell them, “Schenectady.” They look at me with confusion and I say, “Yeah, there’s this ‘idea service’ in Schenectady and every week like clockwork they send me a fresh six-pack of ideas for 25 bucks.” Every time I say that at a college lecture there’s always some schmuck who comes up to me and wants the address of the service- HARLAN ELLISON
Allow me to begin by apologising for not putting up a WriteThinking post last week. For once in a very long time, I stared at the screen and nothing came out…nothing! Even a tweet was becoming too much a task. Usually, I type a word, whichever word on my mind, even unrelated to what I want to write about. Even though it is bound to face the wrath of a ‘delete’, I type it anyway because it gets me in the mood. This time, everything failed. Thus, I must say that now I have newly found respect for writer’s block. Previously I believed it a fallacy…a state of mind…an excuse for a lazy writer. Now I know better. I have taken time off and it has had me thinking …wondering about these creatives I read. I have wondered what Biko Zulu does to be so consistent. I understand that writing is a talent. You either have it or you don’t. But if you have it then it fails you, what do you do to dig it out? Better still, what are the peculiar habits that get these writers on the roll?
Do you ever wonder if Biko Zulu lifts weights first to come up with such profoundly and ‘heavy-weightily’ creative posts Monday in Monday out? Wanjeri’s poetry, does she take steroids for it? Her words are too muscled! I mean, what shapes these writers, their choice of stories, their distinctive selection of words? I have wondered about Milonare. This guy’s creativity, I have taken time to measure in terms of speed. In a span of less than a second, he creates things…coinages of words. We all know that the humour in his posts never leaves any last rib standing! Still, what does he do to squeeze out all that so creatively? Is it easy for him? does he write down points…then first draft..then organised second draft…then revised and absolutely final post?
I know it is rude to stare, but I do stare at works like this:
Perhaps I need spectacles for my ears too? I’m seeing that closing my eyes to sleep is not enough, I need to close my eyes to wake up
I also stare at this
Your heart is so fragile… That every time I step into it… I break it with my feet…
And your mind is so dense… That every time you think of me… You get lost in your own mental shrubbery…(Claudette)
I stare at
All that phonication, textual discourse and courteous interrupters cannot go to waste. Working in her favor is that she was a 300ML (petitius laptopius).(Milonare)
I wonder in what position they write. Is it foetal? Do they oil their head and hands first so that words slide out easily as they think and type?
I wonder because I have my idiosyncrasies too. I listen to sad music; it makes me weep in the insides and most of my best pieces I have written in the middle of an emotional tumult. So I self inflict. If it has a deadline, I begin writing within the last few minutes. I love pressure…fear of not being able to beat the deadline sweats me up in the brain. My best ideas come to me while in a Matatu. My ideas are always sentences, phrases I like, not issues I want to tackle. I don’t begin from the title. I build up on phrases and decide where it goes somewhere in the middle. I also don’t write well during the day. In the late of the night, words come to me undisturbed. Probably because not many people are using them? I chat as I write. It makes me not feel so alone with my words, because my words scare me sometimes.
I know I am not perplexingly awkward. Other than being just mad, some of the well known writers of all time do have their pre-writing rituals. The Ben Franklin guy, he liked to write while immersed in his bath tub. Don’t ask me how he used to do that. Ann Rice has to use a 14- point Courier. Forest MacDonald? Well, clothes off first. Nude writer! and Carl Sandburg? Make-up before writing. A green eyeshade! Strictly green. Margaret Atwood, my favorite author of all times, is obsessed with her characters birthdays, even when they don’t feature in the plot of a story, she has to allocate each one of them a birthday. Even Stephen King, one of the most prolific horror writers has his compulsive tendencies.
So, blogger/writer, what do you smoke to get high? I know, it seems like a case of a kid who cannot sleep before they see their teddy bear. But, do you shower first? Does the sound of rain or the smell of first raindrops on soil make you want to write? Do you smoke and puff out clouds on your screen to get you on a wordly roll? Do you like to dress up? And if it fails to come to you, and you just can’t shake it out, do you falter and give up? Or do you squeeze it out like a pimple! Do tell.