As I write, or even think about writing, I like to hijack myself with inane problems that forbid me from going any further in the creative process. It’s an impenetrable roadblock, otherwise known as a really lame excuse. Do you do that, too? My misery feeds on company.
One particular impasse that I’ve been carrying around with me for months has to do with names. How can I possibly write a story when I don’t know what the main character’s names are? I mean, you can’t do that! Names are so critical to identity. To not name my ‘girl’ would be like not deciding how old she was or what she looked like. So, of course, I convinced myself that without the right name for her there was no use in even thinking about the book.
I know, I know – this is pure brilliance. If you want to fail, flail and never accomplish anything.
And then two days ago, I broke through the sound barriers. I’m still a little shell-shocked, but mostly I’m ludicrously excited. I found her name.
1. I let myself try a few names on for size.
2. This required me to be okay with knowing that these names weren’t right, but that I was ‘in process’ or ‘en route’ – if you will. (I had previously deluded myself into thinking it was sacrilege to write one word without the perfect name.)
3. I did some, gasp, research. You know how much I love the internet – I think it’s my magic 8-ball. I was very specific and literally asked it for exactly what I wanted and it got me there – amazing. (Example? This is not what I asked exactly, but…’girl’s name that rhymes with vacuum cleaner and was popular in the late 1700’s England.’ It’s shocking how putting it all on the line (and in the search bar) works. Try it.)
4. I swear to god, I relaxed. I just went with it all and played around. It was dangerously akin to writing my first name with my boyfriend’s last name on my notebook in junior high. I came this close to putting hearts around it.
It worked, as I mentioned, She is named. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next. After I passed through the unpassable, the writing and the mind-creating was unleashed. Like a tsunami, I tell you. I can’t stop thinking about her and writing about her. Who she is, what happens to her, what people think of her, how they react to her.
Who knew that this minuscule and monstrous detail was such a combustible cork in the creative bottle of juice?
Do you have any plugs like that? I highly recommend you remove obliterate them as soon as possible.
P.S. No, I can’t tell you her name. That would be like telling you my idea for baby names, and I learned that mistake the hard way. Like when ‘Finn’ became ‘Jack’ because some members of our family couldn’t stop making fish jokes. Yeah, that’s not going to work this time.
Image credit: Gillicious