Three Ways to Turn Nuisances Into Short Stories

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Warning: Excessively facetious blog post begins…now.

If you have a younger sibling, obnoxious neighbors or a cat (currently, I have all three). you know have a picture to smack down beside the definition of “annoying” in the dictionary (literally, you actually might have a picture – just don’t smack the actual person). While they might be interrupting the creation of the most significant plot twist you’ve ever thought of, they might also have the potential to become the most significant character you’ve ever sketched.

The same goes for just-can’t-handle-this situations (super long lines in grocery stores, emails that start with “Hi,” just to name a few). You might want to cut everyone in line or intentionally ignore a few thousand emails (and those are gentle reactions). You can’t, though. You can’t let nuisances turn you into the Hulk. But a fictional character can go to extremes to eliminate all the annoying things in his or her life, and if he or she gets in trouble for it – well, you don’t even have to write that part, if you don’t want to.

You are a writer. Use your Wannabe Novelist/Poet/Playwright/Journalist Superpowers to turn that wall you want so badly to punch a hole through into your next greatest literary accomplishment.

How? Well obviously I’m going to give you a few suggestions. From, ahem, personal experience.

Walk straight from Annoying Situation X to your laptop.

Don’t wait, because all that frustration and feeling like you need to pull all the hairs out of your head one by one has to go somewhere. Even if you have to scribble it down on a napkin or the back of a six-month-old receipt, something is better than nothing. Act on your negative spirt of emotion before it passes; if you’ve been looking for motivation to write something new, at least you have something to jumpstart your newest project. Don’t let it sit in your head too long; it might just end up giving you a migraine instead of morphing itself into a useful addition to your Idea Bank.

Don’t hold back.

As long as you’re already busy venting your frustrations in literary form, go all out before your wrists and fingers cramp up. You’ll feel much better once your character has finished saying everything you just barely stopped yourself from screaming twenty minutes ago, word-for-word, maybe with a few choice phrases added in (not that I recommend colorful language when it’s not needed, let’s be modest here). Even if it’s a “fake letter,” don’t even feel an ounce of guilt about everything your Source of Unnecessary Stress is hypothetically reading as you’re writing it. This is for your sanity. Let loose and be proud.

For once, don’t write for a specific audience.

Every writing professor I ever had in college is cringing at this tip. Hang on, let me explain myself. If you’re writing about a person, one who, unfortunately, is the current source of your frustration and hair-greying stress, you’re probably going to want to imagine up 101 Ways to Push Person X Down Six Flights of Stairs Without Getting Caught. There is nothing wrong with this violent urge – just think about how many stories involving violence have become huge literary successes. But don’t write that story with your readers in mind, because at least for now, no one should read what you’ve written about an actual human being. Wait until you’ve cooled down a little, go back and reread your masterpiece – if it’s a little too over-the-top, tone it down, do a few subtle name changes, and then hand it off to your wannabe literary agent. And scene.

The best stories we write are the ones fueled by the emotions of our personal experiences. I believe you can do it. Let’s work together, decreasing the national prevalence of physical violence one short story at a time.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

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