Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jack Heffron's 'Enemies of Creativity': The Talker

A few years ago I started a story that I filenamed 'Bing Bong'. It was about a woman who finds in her basement a strange object that turns out to be some kind of alien artifact or something. It inadvertently wreaks havoc in her life by 'helping' her: tidying her papers (and destroying the 'strata system' pseudo-organisational system she uses), washing her dog (and nearly killing it), etc.

When I first started writing it, this was a shiny new story idea with potential. I had scrawled down some disasters to happen and wrote out a few hundred words setting up the character and the dog.

Then I got involved with what Jack Heffron calls 'The Talker'. It's a personification of the need some writers have to talk about their ongoing works. My Talker can talk to anyone, even me, about my work. The Talker was largely responsible for this embryonic story's loss of that sparkle, that shine of inspiration.

The Talker needs attention. The Talker needs validation. The Talker would rather talk about an idea than confront its complexities, its obstacles. The Talker wants the glory but none of the hard work that really lies at the heart of all creative efforts. - The Writer's Idea Book - Jack Heffron

And it's for this reason that I need to catch my Talker before she gets going and put some duct tape over her mouth. The trouble is, I get use out of talking about my stories sometimes. The trick is to balance output with input, I suppose. It should be okay for me to talk about a story a little bit, but not go on and on until I'm talked out about it and it falls flat.

The Talker is particularly dangerous during NaNoWriMo, but, to me, equally as helpful. This year I talked my story to myself when I was stuck during the first couple weeks, and stumbled into new and interesting events, discovered amazing background secrets. I had a fascinating 'a-HA!' moment while pacing around my kitchen, to the bemusement of my cat, talking about these chitinous, insectoid aliens and how their race had gotten so messed up, really. It allowed me to continue with my story. I stopped The Talker before she got carried away and sat back down to write about what I'd discovered.

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