I am not going to lie to you. It took me two whole days and three attempts to 1. find the courage and 2. find an angle to write this story. Writing, to me, is all about courage. Every time an idea pops up in my head it takes an awful amount of time until I finally sit down, take a pen and start writing. Before that happens, I take a shower, clean the flat, brush my teeth, go on facebook and then clean some more. Maybe like any aspiring writer I call this way of procrastinating “writer’s block” and handle it like a disease I have to bear in order to get things done. In the process of not-writing I usually fall into a deep, black hole of self-doubt and compare my writing to that of authors who actually wrote bestsellers. Sounds familiar? Then let me tell you a story…
I was sitting at the dining table warming my cold feet under the dog that was leaning against my legs. Since I didn’t bring my own laptop I was quiet enjoying myself typing again on an oldie that the two kids normally used and that still ran Windows 95.
“What are you writing?” Jake, he was eleven, looked at the screen full of German words that didn’t make sense to him. They didn’t make sense to me either – and I was actually the one who had written them…
“It’s the beginning of a short story,” I said.
“Are you a writer or something?”
“I’m working on it.”
“What’s the story about?”
You gotta love kids – they never get tired of asking questions.
“If I tell you, I’d have to kill you.”
… Seriously? Did these words really just come out of my mouth? What a stupid thing to say! The truth was: I didn’t even know what the story was about yet. I had a vague feeling where I wanted it to go, but – as always – I was just too afraid to make a decision and let my hero make the next step.
“I want to write a story,” said Jake all of a sudden.
“Go ahead then,” I replied, a tone in my voice that was actually a bit too challenging for a talk with an eleven-year-old, then handing him over the computer. I didn’t know what I expected to happen next. Maybe Jake would stare at the screen for a while, then get bored and watch telly instead. Maybe his fingers would randomly press the keys, creating nothing but a big mess in my document. Maybe this was just a clever attempt to steal the laptop off me to play online games in the first place…
But none of the above happened. Jake sat down, looked up at the ceiling with a thoughtful expression he must have copied from the telly and then wrote his story. Just like that. No doubt, no fear, no nagging thoughts about climax, storytelling or characters. He just wrote a story because he felt like writing a story. And I just sat there, watching him in awe. I had just found my role model.
A wise man once said something like: I have never met a person, who couldn’t teach me something I didn’t know before. An 11-year-old boy had just taught me this: Writer’s block is bullshit. It doesn’t exist as long as you write out of the sheer pleasure to write. Write because you feel like writing, because it makes you happy, because you enjoy telling a story. Don’t think about expectations – neither yours nor those of others- and if you do think your writing isn’t good enough – keep.on.writing. It’s the only way to get better.
… Of course Jake didn’t actually say all these intelligent things, but when he gave me his story to read, I thought something along the lines…
“It’s brilliant,” I said after I had finished reading, not because that’s what you’re supposed to tell a kid, but because I truly thought it was brilliant.
“You think?” Jake asked, raising his eyebrows in disbelief.
“Yeah! I think you have a talent there, Jake!” I wanted to tell the boy something inspirational, something to keep him going, something to… but Jake just shrugged and then went off to watch some telly, leaving me looking like a fool while his first work was staring at me from the screen.
The Attack of the Superhero
I am the man who escaped from the evil superheros’ evil lair in the underground. It all started in late January to early February. There was Godzilla vs. King Kong in the middle of the street and everybody was looking at who was winning. Then all of a sudden a fearsome superhero shot into the street and gave Godzilla a punch and King Kong a kick. We all tried to run for it, but he got a massive net and scooped us all up. He carried us away somewhere far away from our hometown. When we landed he warned us not to run away or else he would kill us or the desert will take our life. So we decided not to run. He brought us underground and threw us all in big cages hanging from the ceiling. We had no idea what was coming next. He got us and showed us his evil plans to destroy the earth. Then all of a sudden a man in a blue suit shot through a glass window right onto the back of the evil super villains head and knocked him out. The good superhero brought us all back to our towns and houses and we thanked him so much. To this day I am still writing this story and my children will pass this on one by one with this amazing writing skill.