Key to Prolific 2: Unlocking the Door
“During the next three weeks, Paul Sheldon felt surrounded by a queer electric peacefulness. His mouth was always dry. Sounds seemed too loud. There were days when he felt like he could bend spoons simply by looking at them. Other days he felt like weeping hysterically.” Misery, Stephen King (pg. 150)
To say the least, Paul Sheldon has much more than a bad time under the care of Annie Wilkes: She forces him to drink dirty cleaning water, leaves him days on end without his medication, made him burn the only copy of his new novel, and handcuffed him and stuck a dirty dishrag in his mouth to keep him quiet. Not to mention she’s making him write a novel in a series of books he hates himself as the writer, now that’s a bad time. In one episode of the Misery of Paul Sheldon, the one in which Annie leaves him for days without his meds, Paul get’s desperate and while he’s supposed to be writing he decides that he needs those goddamn meds if he wants the pain to go away any time soon. So, he decides it’s time to escape his prison cell and make for the bathroom for those pills. Paul is able to pick the lock of his room with a bobbypin by recalling research he had done for the novel Annie forced him to burn up because it was ‘dirty’. Paul of course manages to unlock the door and get the pills, even gets stoned off of them because he’s in bad withdrawal. But you see, I didn’t write this to tell you to get stoned on medication, rather, I’m telling you that: it’s time that you unlocked the door.
Most of us find it hard to step out of a comfort zone in any situation, and writing is probably one of the hardest places to step out of our comfort zone because we may become used to writing a certain way, for a certain character, or for a certain idea, but the worst thing that you can do as a writer is swim in the same pool full of piss forever. Sometimes, you need to get out and take a dive in your neighbors pool, the neighborhood pool, or go across town to the water park where all the pools collide. Sure, their’s might be as pissy as you’re, but it’s better than swimming in the same water. Basically, if you ever want to be a prolific writer, and if you ever want people to look back on your career and say, “Damn, they wrote a lot, I can’t wait to read it all!” you need to take a dip in some other pools, some other genres, some other characters, some new places that you have never explored before.
Have you ever been in an alien house with all these doors, hundreds of doors it seems, and just wondered, “How do people even live in here?”? Well, they’ve learned their way around, they’ve learned what lies on the other side of those doors, and they have all the keys. But, now it’s your turn: it’s time for you to figure out what lies on the other side of each of these doors, and it is your turn to see how you will take what is beyond these doors. This is the key to becoming prolific. No writer can contain themselves in one genre, and even if they do, they can never improve in that genre if they do not infuse and mix together genres, therefore, not totally staying in one pool. A writer is an explorer, they do not continue to traverse the same plane forever, for writers are much more than this: we are more than points on a plane, we are more than lines; we’re the whole goddamned plane. This means that you have got to unlock the doors of your mind and allow the rush of imagination come flooding in: yuo cannot contain yourself if you try and stabilize yourself.
Some days you may feel like you can rule the world with your telekinetic abilities to tell a story to a wide audience through words, other days you may feel like you just want to drop dead from hypothermia in a snowy cave somewhere, but you can have more of the former days if you just step out into the corridor and look around a little bit, maybe you rule the world more often if you allow yourself, the atom, to be destructive and bounce around, unstable and be vibrant: be the singularity, not the parallel. James Joyce is not remembered because he was like everyone else, James Joyce is remembered because he did something different, he was weird, he was strange: he was the singularity.