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…