Here’s a post from a few years back. I thought it was appropriate for today. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.
Today I’m going to present a particularly helpful technique for combating writer’s block. I call it, Unreal History.
The premise is fairly straight forward. Make up some kind of historical untruth and jot it down on a piece of paper. It shouldn’t be too crazy, but it shouldn’t be too vanilla either. You’re shooting for semi-crazy.
Here’s an example: An Irishman invented the first Margarita back in 1810.
Okay, we have our semi-crazy premise. Now write about 250 words on your account of the unreal historical fact. Have fun with it. There’s no pressure – it’s just an exercise to get the fingers moving across the keyboard. I compare it to a basketball player whose shot is way off early in the game. Sometimes all it takes is a trip to the free throw line just to see the ball leave your hand and fall through the hoop. Suddenly the muscle memory kicks in, and the confidence is back. Next thing you know you’re flirting with a triple double.
I’m telling you, crazy as it sounds, I’ve used this technique to generate some good momentum in my writing. Of course, I never actually show anyone what I write during these little one page exercises – they get deleted almost as soon as they’re completed. But, for the sake of demonstration, I’ll go ahead and post an example. Here’s my account of the first Margarita that was invented by an Irishman in 1810:
In 1810 an Irish monk, Charlie Murphy, from Donegal, was sent to Mexico to investigate the legitimacy of a purported miracle – the image of the Virgin Mary manifesting in a bowl of tortilla soup. Unfortunately, a mangy goat consumed the soup, bowl and all, before he had a chance to bear witness. Murphy, undeterred, resolved to remain in Mexico in search of a genuine miracle. He inspected soups, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, any and every dish he happened upon. Still, he found nothing.
It was a hot day in July when a dejected Murphy staggered into a small restaurant, very much in need of drink. The water was fine, but there was a deeper thirst that needed quenching. Rays of sunlight shone through the window, illuminating an array of bottles on a shelf. Murphy was suddenly compelled to moisten the rim of a rocks glass with a damp towel, then dip it in salt. He was further compelled to fill the glass with ice, then he gathered the bottles from the shelf and added tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau. Somehow, he knew the precise proportions, down to the drop. Murphy stirred it a few times and tasted. It was delicious and refreshing, and he called out, “Through Divine Providence, I have invented the, McSwizzler!”
Murphy taught the recipe to the proprietor of the establishment, and returned happily to his home in Donegal where he died many years later. Of course, the proprietor changed the name of the drink, and History did not remember Charlie Murphy. But, in the small coastal towns of Jalisco, Mexico, people still whisper stories about the thirsty, red headed man who mixed the first Margarita.
LOL, I just read what I wrote, and I can’t believe I’m going to show it to other people. And there are actually a few out there who recently started following this blog. Thank you so much for your interest. It means a lot.
Take care, and keep writing.