WIHM: Re-Shape Horror To Re-Energize Your Writing
Re-Shape Horror To Re-Energize Your Writing
By: Robyn Alezanders
The ebb and flow of writing is simultaneously as smooth and tumultuous as the ocean waves they’re akin to – when you got it, it’s a rip tide in your head that demands attention and action. But when it starts to recede, and at its worst, becomes a dry spell, how do we get it back?
Of course there’s the initial cause of why it has retreated. Sometimes it’s a specific catalyst, such as health, financial, or personal concerns. Other times it’s just life in general, throwing diversions into your writing goals and plans, and creating that wistful “I’ll get back to it when….” And then there’s that dreaded bane of writers’ existence, the block resulting in a blank screen/paper, tears, cursing, and the occasional pacts with demons.
In lieu of blood-inked contracts with snarky entities, one remedy is to try other art mediums as a means to explore and inspire. Those ideas and musings that for whatever reason can’t come through in words transform, and form their own footings.
I often turn to drawing to help decompress and when necessary, take the self-imposed pressure off to write and compose a story. Tapping into the visuals that often echo descriptive scenes and characters presents a fresh perspective that helps re-shuffle my artistic energy. We all know what it’s like when we’re in that groove, and the vocabulary runs smoothly. We also know how it is when pitches, word counts, specific themes, and deadlines are at play, which either propels the momentum or adds to standstills. Yet when you take away those decisive variables, and just pick up the pencil, paintbrush, or whatever other tool call to you (I’m also partial to charcoals and pastel crayons), you bring forth another amazing foray into the genre we adore.
One piece that I’m particularly proud of was a pastel rendering of Hellraiser’s Lament Configuration embraced by A Perfect Circle’s orange crescent symbols, and accented by the runes for joy and transformation. It was indeed that – personally rewarding and inspiring to craft something horror related in a different format. Sure, this did require some concentration because of the puzzle box’s design, but it elicited a very relaxed focus. It got me thinking about what the box represented and how I might be able to one day create a world with such a potent catalyst. It hangs on my wall, as a source of pride, inspiration, and representative of how my love for horror translates in its own unique way.
I’ve also worked with plaster casting to create a model of part of my body, to be one of the central pieces of a multi-media project involving dark themes. Additionally, there are sketches and outlines for photographic projects. Even baking sometimes takes a spooky turn, which I take advantage of: I’ve used food-grade “blood” to make “vampire cheesecake,” make devilish faces on cookies, and made gingerbread coffins.
Acting has been another exploration and motivation for writing. Last year I wrote about
theatre’s influence, playing a feral baby-eating vampire vixen in a production of Dracula. This past Halloween season, I was a haunt actor, which became a bucket list check-off and definitely affected me, as a person, and as a writer – all for the good. That experience has already evoked sketches, and will continue to find its way through, when I have the time to dedicate to it.
On the note of sketches, don’t discount something as seemingly trivial as doodling. Those little etchings are like rough outlines or first drafts. Some are perfectly fine as is, while others have led to fuller produced art, which is the point. Whether dabbling in other mediums remains a go-to practice when writing isn’t there, or turns into a complementary pursuit, it all ultimately becomes blueprints and worthy creations unto themselves.
Robyn Alezanders made her horror debut with the short story, “ Soul Stains,” in Des Lewis’ critically acclaimed Nemonymous 5, and earned an Honorable Mention in the 19th Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. Her work has also appeared in The Mammoth Book of the Kama Sutra, Eternal Haunted Summer, a Colleen Anderson Women in Horror guest post about female vampires in the age of #MeToo, and a Little Geek Lost Women in Horror guest post about how paranormal experiences and paganism affect writing. Find her on FB, posting about scary stuff, witchy musings, vegan baking, her jedi master chihuahua, and whatever else is on her creepy yet loveable mind.