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Bored, Bothered & Bewildered
by Lizzie R. Santos
As a freelance writer, you should be able to write whatever mood you're in. Write whether you're angry, sad, happy or bewildered! If you wait for "the muse" to come and inspire you, you may not earn much. Ironically, she seldom arrives when you need her! (Isn't *she* a darling?)
What to do when you're bored...
When you're bothered...
- Change the ambiance of your workplace. Create a theme (Starwars? MIB?) or go somewhere else and write there. Check in at a lodge, hotel, apartelle or motel. Pack a few clothes and take the first trip to some semi-distant destination. Then stay there for a few days and write your heart out.
- Do something unusual/daring. You're probably bored because of the routine of your life. Why not start a new hobby? Do something you've never imagined doing or something that's completely out of your nature. You can then write about that experience.
- Try a different genre. Sticking to romance, action, horror... all the time can be boring. Challenge yourself: write in a genre that's farthest from your expertise. The shift can cure your boredom.
- If you're so used to writing for print media, why not try cyber writing or go audio/audio-visual? You don't know how? Then learn! You won't only cure your boredom; you'll even create new opportunities to earn!
- Fall in love or flirt. Some writers need inspiration to write. What's more inspiring than having a love life if you don't have one yet?
- Psyche yourself. For some writers, all it takes is mental conditioning to get going. For others, a mantra helps. Others meditate. Choose what suits you!
- Give your monitor screen a makeover. If you are a visual person, colors can do wonders for you. Go to Desktop, right-click to Active Desktop, click on Customize Desktop. From the pop-up box, choose Appearance. Now experiment with different schemes, items and fonts. Find a look that suits your taste. Come up with your own screensaver. Compile your favorite pictures in one folder (my screensaver has crazy pictures of cats). Use that folder as your screensaver. Add every possible effect to your PC so that merely opening it will amuse you!
- Find writing prompts. Sometimes all you need to fight boredom is a powerful kick to get going. How about a challenging writing prompt? (Shery Ma Belle Arrieta's Daily Writes is a good source.)
- Take a trip and eavesdrop. Find an interesting character to spark your imagination. (Tip: They can be found in the most unexpected places: a fishy wet market, a greasy auto repair shop, a gaudy bar...)
When you're sad...
- Fix what's bothering you. Unless you fix what's bothering you -- a problem, an unfinished business, whatever -- your mind will be preoccupied. It's very hard to write when you can't concentrate. Even if you don't completely fix the problem, the fact that you're doing something about it helps.
- Write about it. If you can't shake off a problem, then earn from it! Express your angst or exhaust your creative juices and think of as many solutions as you can to fix your problem. For example: Back in college, a classmate was the only one who had no date for Valentine's Day. To help her out, our gang came up with hilarious tricks that she could try to bag an instant date. But I went further. I came up with a whole article and titled it "Wacky Ways to Find an Instant Valentine's Date." It was a hit with my editor! In fact, for three consecutive years, I came up with such an article every February!
- Research about it. If your problem is more complex, you may need some research to come up with solutions. That's an opportunity! If you gather enough facts and figures about your problem, you can write one whole article about it! Call up experts in that field, scout for testimonials, surf the net... When my mom started showing signs of Alzheimer's Disease, it was very hard for me to write. I was going nuts from all the weird things she was saying and doing! Then a friend told me that it might be Alzheimer's because of my mom's age. That gave me an idea. I researched about the dreaded disease. I gathered materials. I combined what I researched with my personal experiences. Since then, I've been coming up with different articles -- informative features, personal essays, some practical tips... about Alzheimer's.
- Discuss it; get opinions. Another way to attack what's bothering you is to get other people -- your friends' and relatives' opinion about it. From there, you can come up with survey articles.
When you're angry...
- Think of 30 ways to cheer yourself up and then write a bulleted article on that.
- Write a story -- in dramatic genre, but give it a happy ending. Let your imagination run wild. I bet not only will
you end up with a touching story; the happy ending you thought of could even convince you that things will be fine after all.
- Pour out your sadness through bits of dialogue. Many composers and writers confess that they write their most beautiful pieces when they're sad rather than when they're happy. You can, too! Talk to yourself then put that in writing. (Mind you, self-talk does wonders. You don't believe me? Do some research, my dear!) Save it for future use or think of a whole story -- flash fiction -- to revolve around the magnificent bits of dialogue you wrote.
- Write to the person who made you sad. Write a no-hold-barred letter to him/her who made you feel miserable. If your letter has a universal theme, you can submit it for publication!
- Write about what made you sad. Nobody else can write something better than the person who has actually experienced
it. While you're wallowing in sadness, make the most of it. Write about how you feel, how your sadness affects your life.
- Research on what makes a person feels sad. If you are the secretive, private type, it will be hard to write about
your sadness. Why not write about sadness in general then?
When you feel sluggish...
- Vent your anger on an article. Instead of picking a fight, let your anger out through writing. Lambast an irresponsible public official, rant and rave about an injustice going on around you, demand for action... just let the anger out of your system! Send your hate piece to "Letters to the editor."
- Write a story but change the ending. Again, you can use your anger as a writing prompt. Come up with a short story, a personal essay, or poem out of that anger!
- Take revenge on his character. Whoever made you mad deserves to be chopped to pieces -- in print of course. Through him, come up with a most hateful character for a story. Let him make your hero/heroine's life miserable but turn the tables on him at the end of the story. That, in itself, is a liberating symbolism that can free you of your anger -- much like the Burning Man ritual we know of.
It is a common belief that writers are moody people. So what? I dare say that being moody is a blessing. The intensity of our "writer's moods" gives us magic to experience life like no other people do!
- Brainstorm with other writers. Instead of turning on the TV and transforming into a couch potato, go out with other writers. Too lazy to go out? Let your fingers do the walking. Use the phone! Brainstorm to get your mind going. After a while, I guarantee, you'll be raring to write!
- Attend writers' activities. If all you do is write, you can really feel sluggish. Go out and meet other writers or learn something new. Explore the writing world through workshops, book launchings, seminars, on-the-spot writing contests...
- Read winning entries to get inspired. When writers read great works, they savor the beauty of the piece. But a voice inside them tells them that *they*, too, can write something as beautiful. Don't you?
- Try some writing exercises to stimulate your brain. Just like athletes, writers need to warm up, to constantly practice to keep in shape. Writing exercises are akin to an athlete's workout. Check some writing books or come up with your own writing exercises!
Copyright © 2003 Lizzie R. Santos
Lizzie Santos writes features, literary pieces, scripts and other writing projects both in English and Pilipino. She also lectures at creative writing workshops. Her first book, The Laughter of the Leaves and Other Musings, was published by Giraffe Books. She is working on her second book. Contact her at email@example.com.
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