Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jumper Cables for the Imagination

What’s the greatest fear of every writer? Illiterate zombies taking over the world? Loss of use of the left pinkie finger, thus necessitating the use of words that exclude the letters ‘q,’ ‘a,’ and ‘z’? Probably not.

I’m talking about Writer’s Block– the sudden inability to put words to paper. More accurately, the inability to create ideas which spawn words. I have a particular fascination with this phenomenon. Don’t ask me why.

Over the years, I have taken on this dreaded condition, developing a variety of methods for its remedy. They don’t always work, and some work better than others.

The first one I’d like to mention is what I call . . .

“The Dictionary Game”

If you’re stuck, and can’t think of the next sentence to write, grab a dictionary– a dictionary of slang is my favourite. Close your eyes, open to a random page, and jab your finger on a random spot on the page. Open your eyes and read the word. Challenge yourself to include that word in your next sentence.

It sounds counter-intuitive. Here you are, forcing yourself to fit a word into a sentence when you can’t even think of a sentence in the first place. The strange thing is, it often works. For some reason, when your mind is backed into a corner by being forced to use a particular word, this is a call to arms for the imagination. The random word is like a jolt that gets the mind rolling again.

Give it a try. Think of it as a game. If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost anything. Let me know how it goes.