Your Imaginary Friends

imaginary friendsWhen you’re a writer, you get a lot of cutesy gifts. T-shirts are my kids’ favorites, and I’d much rather receive a writer-themed t-shirt than a necktie.

And you know you’re loved when you get the inevitable “Writer’s block: when your imaginary friends stop talking to you.”

Yeah, real funny. Until it happens to you. And then not so funny anymore.

I confess to not suffering from traditional writer’s block. But I’ve spent a lot of sessions fighting the story instead of writing it. And inevitably, it’s exactly that: because my imaginary friends have stopped talking to me.

So why do your imaginary friends stop talking to you?

My imaginary friends are a pretty wide cross-section of personality types, although they tend toward the eccentric, offbeat individualists. But they all–every one so far–share a single trait: they hate being told what to do.

Makes sense to me. If my friends get pushy or overbearing, they quickly become my ex-friends. Or at least friends-on-sabbatical-until-they-get-it-together.

As a hardcore pantser, my writing style/technique is pretty much put my characters in all sorts of situations–the crazier the better–and then let them figure out how to get themselves out. Which they always do. They’re clever like that. Plus they know themselves way better than I do. But inevitably I try to do the figuring-out for them. The helicopter-parent version of a writer. And they shut up.

I think it’s instructive to think of characters as living separately from you the writer. Yes, I know, they do live in my head. But–and this is a pretty big but–they don’t live in the logical side of my brain. The side that wants to figure everything out for them, plot their moves so that they are never inefficient.

So . . . it’s not so much that they’ve stopped talking is that I’ve quit listening.

(Fortunately, they’re very forgiving. And they do love to come out and play.)


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7 Responses to Your Imaginary Friends

  1. Just what I needed to read today, Rusty! I loved hearing about your crazy creative writing process! –kate

  2. Hi Rusty, Excellent post! Happy to hear that your imaginary friends are so forgiving. Joanne 🙂

  3. Great post! I feel like your imaginary friends- I hate being told what to do also!

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