Thursday, November 19, 2009

The plague of Writer Brain

I've suspected this for a long time, but after last weekend I think it's official: I suffer from Writer Brain.

I think it began when I started watching people and thinking things like, How would I describe the way that man walks? or Ooo, look at that woman chewing on a piece of hair without even realizing it, I'm going to use that. Then I started carrying a little notebook to scribble down things like a description of the teenager I saw in the weight room that looks just like what would happen if someone turned a bull dog into a human. I notice how some people always look at your chin when you talk to them, or how one woman walks around the track with her head tilted to the side, like she's leaning into the curves.

Phase two was when I became a chronic eavesdropper, like the time two construction workers outside my house got into an argument and I sat right next to the open window so I could hear better. I listen in on others' cell phone conversations and imagine what the person on the other end is saying. If two people are having a lover's quarrel I inch closer, and I'll end my own arguments quickly sometimes so I can run off and take notes.

The next stage was when I started thinking "What If?" all the time. Like the other week when my children told me about their friend's dog that pees when he gets excited. What if a person had that character trait? Imagine the situations and neuroses that would arise out of that? I even said it something like that out loud. After my kids looked at me in surprise, they jumped right in the game of What If? (I'm sorry, guys. You have no chance, really, with the mom you've got.)

Then last weekend I was with a group of friends who were talking about a tragedy several years ago where a husband hired a hit man to kill his wife. The wife happened to be the cousin of one of my friends. So everyone was talking about how horrible it all was, etc. in appropriate somber tones.

And I was thinking, How would someone find a hit man to hire? If you were just a normal, good Christian guy, where would you even start looking for one? And then how would you do it so the police wouldn't find you? My mind was racing on the logistics of how that would even work out, in case I ever wanted to use that in a story.

Without realizing it I had said my thoughts out loud. There was silence as everyone turned to look at me. "I mean, what a horrible thing! I can't believe people are really like that," I quickly said to cover up my faux pas.

But really, how would someone like me go about finding a hit man? Where would I even start? I guess I'd have to ask the shadiest person I know, hoping that they'd know someone who knew someone? Or are there sites online where hit men post their resumes? Maybe they don't post their resumes but just put down GPS coordinates that will lead to a place with their contact information, like Geocaching for hit men...

**Note: I am not planning to hire a hit man. Really. I'm not.

Please don't hate me, I'm just a victim of Writer Brain.


Rhonda said...

Finally! It has a name. Writer Brain. I too suffer from writer's brain and I've totally had the "how would one go about hiring a hit man?" Q&A dialogue in my own head many times.

I'm also an eavesdropper and a people watcher. The other day I was at a store and saw a young man who was the perfect physical manifestation of one of my main characters...I had to physically stop myself from stopping him and taking his picture so I could accurately describe him in detail later.

Stephanie L. McGee said...


I am a deep sufferer of Writer Brain.

Rhonda. LOL on the picture thing!

I carry a notebook to church with me. Lots of goodies there.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'll tell you where you go to find a hit man. A lawyer. I kid you not. You'd be surprised what kind of connections they have to both high and low. I have connections to a Tongan Mafia. Really. And I'm not shady at all! (I have writer's brain too. I promise I'm not hiring hit men.)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Read your guest post on LDSP and the twittering thing is way over my head so I thought I'd check out your actual non twittering blog to see if you're a normal writer person and I find a post on how to find a hit man. I completely relate to this hit man idea and writer brain (is this why people often stare at me oddly when I make a contribution to the conversation?) But the twittering has me befuddled. Maybe someday.

Jaime Theler said...

Rhonda - I probably would have snapped the picture.

L.T. - A lawyer! I never would have thought of that. I do know a couple of them...

Karen - I can imagine how surprising it must have been to see the how to hire a hit man post. At least I know other writers will get it. :)

Cathy Witbeck said...

I'm not sure, but I think my daughter has writer brain. We'll be travelling along and she'll say,"Hey that would be an excellent place to dump a body." Either writer brain, or she watches way too much CSI.

robert d said...

Amazing energy.

Have a little word game to offer as a distraction.

I collect trips - a triplet is a group of 3 words that are pronounced the same but spelt differently. And yes there are a few quads.

I have a collection of 47 in the English language.

> 25 in 7 days is considered wordsmith extraordinaire.

Life is good,


Noble M Standing said...


The assassin in my book has offered his services for a good price. :) He says he's really reliable.