October 18, 2013

When Words Have Lost Their Magic

By Adam Blumer 

When I was a boy, filled to the brim with dreams of writing, I went through a Hardy Boys phase. I gobbled up every Franklin W. Dixon novel I could get my hands on. All I dreamed of was tagging alongside Frank and Joe Hardy on one of their hair-raising capers and chasing jewel thieves across Bayport. Those books ignited my desire to be a writer.

Then one day while I was sitting in church, of all places, my mom nudged me. “Do you see that man over there?” she whispered. “He’s a detective.”

With one glimpse at the man in the pew across the aisle, my Hardy Boys fantasy dissolved into a wisp of smoke. He was middle aged, paunchy, slightly gray—certainly nothing impressive. What left an indelible impression was his tired and joyless expression. He had probably seen more than his share of death, larceny, and general misery of this world.

What was I expecting? Maybe a muscular frame and perceptive eyes that scanned the crowd, not missing a thing. Perhaps a magnifying glass clutched in one hand and a revolver in the other. Either way, this certainly wasn’t it, and just like that, the Hardy Boys magic was gone—poof!

Life has a way of doing the same thing to the creativity, the magic, behind our words. The pressure of deadlines, writer’s block, poor sales, and industry competitiveness can steal the magic and leave us staring at a blank screen, our creative juices all but evaporated away.

How can we regain what we lost? Here are some helpful tips:

1.      Return to what sparked the magic to begin with. Maybe this is a certain book you read as a child, the one that made your imagination soar. Reach for this book, find a random place, and just begin reading. Does the magic of words take you back to the love of story that began your writing trek?

2.      Watch a favorite movie again. Ask yourself why you like it so much. Take notes as thoughts come to you. More than likely, the appeal has something to do with mystery, plot, or characterization—elements that may arouse the dormant storyteller in you.   

3.      Start with a story cliffhanger and finish the story any way you choose. For example, “John reached the cliff’s edge just as sunset colors washed over distant hills. His ears perked up. Was that a footfall? Someone was coming up behind him—he was sure of it.” Finish the story.

4.      Watch a documentary about a topic that fascinates you. Since I’m a suspense author, I especially enjoy CBS’s 48 Hour Mystery. Each time I watch an episode, I find new plot ideas, and my imagination itches with new stories to tell.  

Most likely your love of writing isn’t far away. Sometimes the magic just needs to be resuscitated.
Adam Blumer is the author of suspense novels Fatal Illusions (Kregel Publications) and The Tenth Plague (Kirkdale Press). A print journalism major in college, he works as a freelance writer and editor after serving in editorial roles for more than twenty years. He lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia. Website:  Blog:
Facebook:  Twitter: @adamblumer

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