So I just finished reading a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami called The elephant vanishes. As always when reading Murakami it was weird and wonderful. There were stories about a woman who suddenly can’t sleep for weeks and starts a new life at night, about a couple who are so hungry they decide to rob a McDonalds, and of course about an elephant vanishing. It is a great pleasure reading Murakami, and you can’t help but admire his imagination and his ability to make the craziest stories come to life, feel real and feel important to the reader.
It also gave me some ideas when it comes to writer’s block. If you’re like me, the hardest part is the start. I start doubting my own ideas before I can even begin to write them down, and if I can squeeze out a page or two I often think that the story and the writing is no good, so then I quit and try to think of other ideas. Reading Murakami’s short stories and also Etgar Keret’s short stories gave me the idea to start in another way. Think of a crazy start for a story; it doesn’t have to make any sense at all or be realistic. Then just write for the pure fun of it; write to see what this crazy start can lead to; write because you yourself are curious about what’s going to happen. Make a point of deciding beforehand that this is going to become a short story, it is going to be crazy and perhaps not very good, but I’m going to do it because it’s fun.
I found that this helped me start, it helped me focus on the fun part of writing, and it shut my inner critic up since I had already decided that what mattered was the fun, the crazy storyline, and not the quality of the writing itself. After writing a short story like this I found that my inspiration was higher, my imagination was up and running, and I couldn’t wait to write some more or to go back and improve the short story. I just took the first, craziest idea I could come up with and ran with it, and ended up with a short story of five pages about a man who suddenly wakes up every other day as a man and every other day as a woman, and has to juggle this double life and at the same time try to find a way to go back to normal.
Now, after Murakami, I have started reading Paul Auster’s Timbuktu. More on that when I’m finished reading it.