It’s that day again.
Monday has lost some of its bite now that non-traditional work schedules are more common, but there’s still something about it. Too many hangovers where the only thing that can get you out of bed is the pureed adrenal gland of a honey badger mixed with methamphetamine? Maybe. Whatever the reason, this day’s still got enough teeth to bite you in the ass.
I can help.
See, for my money, the thing about Mondays is that it’s when you start things.* Restart at the very least. You’re back in the saddle for another week. Or you will be, as soon as you can shake off that grump and muster up the energy to climb on the damn horse. And finding that energy, that ass-kicking-rush to get up and do shit, is where most of us hit a wall. Seriously, if that adrenal gland-meth cocktail was a real thing, I’d be ordering it from some black market pharmacy as we speak.
We all need a boost. Just a little, man, one good hit to get started. Because if we can get Monday right, the rest of the week might just slide into place.
So, here’s the deal: starting today and running until I get bored**, I’ll be posting writing challenges every Monday. Some will be character related, some plot, some setting, and some just entirely random. Just a little something to hook the jumper cables up to your writing week.
Here it is: write a moment of irrational fear.
Note the irrational part. I’m not talking about fear of gunmen, or foreclosure, or falling off a cliff. Those are perfectly rational fears. No, I’m talking about that moment after you squish an earwig with a tissue and flush its flattened corpse down the toilet before sitting down and you have a flash of horror that the earwig isn’t dead after all and now it’s coming back for revenge while you’re on the toilet. Or that second when you’re absorbed in an odd train of thought and you think, What if someone in this room can read my mind? And for a second, just a bare second, you believe it.
Write that second of fear for someone, and then their reaction to it. Do they talk themselves out of it? Or are they unable to? Do they make a tinfoil helmet? Do they stare around the room and try to pick out the mindreader? Do they grab the industrial strength Raid and start spraying?
Too often characters are written as perfectly rational at all times, making the best decisions and having ordered, sensible thoughts. Fuck that. In real life, it’s a shit show up there most of the time. So write 250 words—yes, I’m giving you a length and everything, it’s the stump of my English teaching instinct—of that irrationality. If you have characters you’re developing, use one of them. Get to know their irrational lizard brain. If you don’t have a character ready, then write about yourself. Or make someone up for the express purpose of scaring the shit out of them.
There it is: 250 words. Fear. Reaction. Go.
And if you’re feeling really brave, post your results in the comments.
*Fun fact: I always start a new novel on a Monday. Always.
**Or get distracted by something shiny.