Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

The Monsters Under the Bed

I have never been scared of the dark.

It’s the things that hang out in the dark that terrify me. And any kid will tell you, the dark is where the monsters hide.

As a child, I would tiptoe down the hallway and sit at the top of the stairs while my parents watched TV and I was supposed to be asleep.  As soon as I heard them getting ready to come up for the night, I would scurry back down the hall and jump under the covers, being especially careful not to get too close to the edge of the bed, lest the monsters underneath it could reach out and grab me.

Later, in college, I revisited this fear as I discovered Pennywise in Stephen King’s It.  That book creeped me out so bad I found myself checking closets before going to bed each night for months. It changed my views on clowns forever, too!  (Even now, as I watched the video I linked you to, I was totally creeped out by that character!) 🙂

A few weeks ago, a writer shared his blog post on the NaNoWriMo page on Facebook.  It was about writer’s block and whether or not it was real. As expected, this generated a whole slew of responses, one of which likened writer’s block to the monster under the bed. The implication was that if you don’t believe in it, it isn’t real.

This got me thinking about monsters under the bed and well, you can see where this train of though has taken me.

If writer’s block is real and if it is like a monster under the bed, how can I approach it and diffuse its power? The same question can be posed for any creative block in any field or area of your life.  Blocks occur in creativity, problem solving, brainstorming, cooking dinner and even rearranging the furniture.  And they can all be monsters.

Maybe if we approach our blocks like the monsters in Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. we will fare better.  (If you haven’t seen that movie, I highly recommend it!)  In it monsters live in a parallel city that is powered by the screams of scared little kids.  Monsters are assigned closet doors and sent each night to scare kids in our world and capture the screams. The monsters are actually terrified of the kids and think they are toxic. One day a child wanders into the scare factory through her unattended closet door, and two monsters try to hide her and find a way to get her back home.  They call her Boo and in their journey realize that her laughter is actually ten times stronger than a scream.

Maybe being scared of our blocks and beating ourselves up about them is not the best way to get through them.  Maybe screaming at the universe and the unfairness of it all is not going to make the blocks disappear. Maybe we shouldn’t fear the things that hide in the dark – the inner critic and our fears of inadequacy.  Maybe we just need to shine a little light in there to see what we are really dealing with.

And maybe, we have to learn to laugh in the face of a creative block to make it disappear. 

Laughter is, after all, ten times stronger than a scream…

12 Comments

  1. You and me both with the clown…OMG! Creeped me out too and I love all Stephen’s stories. A very interesting train of thought on writers block though. Can we really create something just by thinking it into being? I find to overcome any block I go and do a completely unrelated task….it switches my thought patterns and when I go back to the WIP I have a refreshed view of it.

    • I’m with you on Mr. King -love his stories, and It is ine if my favorites, despite it scaring the poop out of me! The problem I seem to run into is that when I take a step back from my WIP, I can manage to take a lengthy break from it while mentally bashing myself about it. :). Must learn balance in all things!!

  2. I like that. I don’t believe in writer’s block, therefore, it isn’t real – for me, this makes perfect sense. I always have too many things I’m dying to write about – and never a writer’s block. Maybe a writer’s stumbling block here and there, but no big bad blocks under my bed, thank you. Oh, and I’m very happy to know that I am ten times more powerful than a scream. Love Monsters, Inc., but I had forgotten that lesson. Good for me that I’m a humor writer!

    • Awesome that you don’t get blocked! I do believee our state of mind goes a long way towards ridding us of the tendency to block or not block. It sounds like you have a very healthy mindset when it comes to your creative work. I think as lot of people, myself included, get stuck in the I-am-not-worthy-who-am-I-to-think-I-can-write-no-one-will-take- me-seriously loop and we manage to create our own blocks. Wile this sounds like a tough problem to work through, it is actually very hopeful… If we create the block, we can remove it! 🙂

  3. yes, I have a major problem with fear of all shapes and sizes. I have never experienced writer’s block from fear, but I have had difficulty submitting my ms to agents/publishers because of my fear. But I’m working to overcome that, day by day. 🙂

    • Baby steps… That is all we can do. I believe that if we do one small thing that scares us each day, even if it seems like such a small thing – write another paragragh, work on your query letter, research an agent -eventually the big thing -the whole being a writer and submitting our work thing -won’t be so scary! 🙂

  4. I think this is a powerfull blog with a lot interesting articles about this stuff. And i just wanna thank you for this. I’ll follow your website to see if you post more stuff like these!

    • Thanks for stopping in! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Awesome post.
    Also, everyone keeps saying that “It” made them rethink the way they thought about clowns. I really need to read this book.

    • Daphne – It and The Stand are my two favorite Stephen King books. Long and epic plots! Scary – It because of that darn clown; and The Stand because he writes it in a way that makes it all seem so plausible. Both books are much better than the made-for-TV movies, which is usually the case. 🙂

      • Oh definitely. I think I’ve only ever thought two movies were better than the books they were derived from. 😉

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