You know how it is, you’ve been there too. You sit down with the best intentions. There are so many thoughts brimming in your head: Today, I’m gonna to finish that story; that new chapter starts right here, right now; I’m gonna finish my first draft, yes! An hour later you’re still on Facebook. What? How did that happen? Did you get abducted by aliens and lose time? Did you get sucked into a worm hole into another dimension? Or did you just dick around doing sweet FA? Hmmmm.
No new words have been written, that new chapter has not been started, the end of that draft is drifting. Those ideas and aspirations now receding like sea mist. You sit on the shore of self-loathing and watch them disappear. You’re such a loser, you’re never gonna get anything finished.
But come on, it’s not your fault that these little ‘news’ vignettes are so enticing: ‘Man walks down street, Internet loses it!’, ‘Why you shouldn’t click on this article’, ‘What kind of cake are you? Click here to find out’, ‘Wig found on Mars!’, ‘We can guess the colour of your underwear by your favourite books’.
Or you just find yourself staring at pretty pictures overlaid with inspirational quotes:
‘If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it’
‘The secret of getting ahead is getting started’
‘You will never win if you never begin’
‘Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me’
Like. Like. Like. Share. Share. Share.
Oh! the irony makes me weep.
But don’t be afraid, and don’t hate yourself for being hooked in by clickbait. We’ve all been there. And anyway you deserve a break from that story that won’t progress, and those characters who won’t play ball anymore.
Be kind to yourself so you can be happy enough to be kind to the world. Like. Share.
The world is crazy, crazier than we think. Full of people and happenings stranger than our imagination can sometimes dream. And for a writer, that can only be gold dust.
Some of the more bizarre articles I’ve come across include:
- The hacking of internet connected sex-toys.
- A 20,000 year old Sumerian tablet that ‘reveals the true reason for our existence on Earth’.
- An entire family who had an apparent mental breakdown and went on a bizarre road trip.
- A man forced to carry the dead body of his wife home after a hospital refused to provide transport.
- A woman who discovered there was no body in her baby’s coffin.
Now and again among the mass of clickbait, you will stumble on an article so bizarre there’s only one thing you can do with it: use it for inspiration. You take that spark and light a fire. You’re a writer, right? So you do what you do best, dream and wonder about it.
When I come across an interesting article I save it to Instapaper for later reading. Think of Instapaper as a virtual scrapbook. It makes things easier for reading by removing ads and pictures. You can organise articles into folders, mark some as favourites, changes the font size and background colours. It also synchronises with my phone so I can read offline when I’m out and about. (Pocket is an alternative.)
This morning I came across an article about the strangest things people have found in their parents’s homes after they died. These included alcohol hidden in walls, pornography, Viagra stashed in every room, finding truths about their parents’s past (or their own) via marriage certificates. When I read something like that it just make me want to dream up stories.
So you see, this whole Facebook thing may not be so bad after all. As a writer you’re a devourer (there is no politer way to say it, I’m sorry). You feed on ideas. You need them. You are a vampire, stories are your blood. You peer at strangers with curiosity, imagining their lives: who are they? where do they live? You are a puppet master in search of a show. If the world can be so bizarre, then why can’t your stories? Run with them. See where they take you.
I’ll end on another inspirational quote: It ain’t dicking around, it’s prospecting for ideas. Now get writing.
Image credit: William Iven via Unsplash