When I was growing up I loved to read. I’d read anything and I’d tear through a thousand page book in a week. It would go everywhere with me until it was finished. As much as I enjoyed reading, it wasn’t until I was thirteen that I discovered how much I loved to write.
When I was a Freshman in High School my friends and I used to have an hour long bus-ride home from school. We were all avid horror and fantasy readers, one day we decided to use that time to write a short story on whatever topic we wanted, at the end of the ride we’d vote on who’s was best.
I wrote a short horror story about the four of us, my three friends and I. We went camping, told scary stories around the fire, and one by one started to disappear. We figured that one of the urban legends from the stories was actually real… but in the end found out that one of us was a werewolf (before they were trendy) and had invited everyone out to make meals of us.
It was scary, the descriptions were gory, like the horror flicks we loved, blood everywhere.
I won the little contest and discovered the joy I got from their reactions as we traded pages. It was a blast to write something like all those stories that I enjoyed and have other people get a kick out of reading it. Those little story contests became a regular part of our rides from then on.
Fast forward two decades.
This week I’m working on a new project. As I was writing I realized I had a little hole in my plot, the characters were going to have to spend the night out in this hazardous place. That wasn’t supposed to happen originally but it was just the way it worked out. Thinking about that scene I figured I could just gloss over it, “they found an abandoned cabin to stay the night and nothing happened”… but that’s not what I ended up happening
Instead, I spent the last two days writing over a dozen pages about the characters being haunted all night by creepy visions and monsters. It just kind of evolved on the page into this huge, scary situation that I had so much fun creating.
In thinking about the project and the last two days it all kind of reminded me of writing those stories on the bus. Those creepy, gruesome, edge-of-the-seat tales were what got me started writing to begin with because they were so much fun. Even as a little kid, those R.L. Stein books were my favorites. As I got older I transitioned into Stephen King and Dean Koontz, as well as a plethora of fantasy writers like Robert Jordan (RIP).
So I’m taking some time today to enjoy the process and remember what makes writing and reading enjoyable for me. My last few projects have been pretty tame on the scare-o-meter, maybe my next one (or this one) will end up a few marks higher. And if you find yourself hitting a slump, maybe thinking back to what you first loved about reading and writing will help get those juices flowing again.