Photo credit: Picatostes
Captain Trips is the name given to the fictional super-flu virus in Stephen King’s novel, The Stand. In the novel, this flu, which originated as a biological weapon that got away, is so treacherous that it wipes out nearly the entire world’s population aside from a few thousand people. These people are then forced to choose between “good” and “evil” and the two sides eventually face off in an epic battle to determine which side inherits the earth.
Although Captain Trips has absolutely nothing to do with writers block, I am mentioning it here for two reasons:
- I am currently in the grip of a violent flu bug that is so devastating that I am wondering if Captain Trips might not be fictional after all.
- It gives me a near legitimate reason to use the cool words, “Captain Trips” in the title of this post.
Think of this as my way of saying I feel far too horrible today to write anything resembling humor, so I’m going to go with something informative and hope you guys won’t ditch me forever.
As most of you already know, writer’s block is that horrible feeling you get when you try to write but for some unknown reason you just can’t.
I must confess that I, the Dead Rooster Extraordinaire, rarely suffer from any significant form of writer’s block. I used to think I was just lucky, but yesterday I received an email from Gary Bencivenga that opened my eyes to the secret. The truth is, I’m not lucky—it’s just that I’ve been doing something correctly in my approach to writing that a lot of people apparently skip.
While reading Gary’s email newsletter, which is geared toward writing effective direct-response ad copy, I was struck by the following line:
“…‘writer’s block’ is just a symptom of a rather easily cured malady—”LRS,” or Lazy Research Syndrome.”
This is it! This is the secret I’ve always had but couldn’t explain! I have always done a lot of research, even for the stuff that wouldn’t seem to require any at all. For instance, my recent post, The Spastic Dance of the Black Widow Spider Slayer, was based upon events that physically happened to me and therefore should have been a simple matter of writing them down. But, I STILL did research on black widow spiders and golf clubs before I did any writing.
Gary also wrote that John Caples, the legendary copywriter, once advised him to gather seven times more interesting information than he could possibly use.
That might be a little extreme, but I think gathering more information than you think you’ll need is sound advice.
The next time you find yourself in a writer’s block situation, go do some research on the subject you’re attempting to write about and see if you don’t find it much easier to get words on paper when you come back. I’ll bet you do.
Try it out and let me know how it works for you.
Right now, I’m going back to bed and sleeping-off this horrible nightmare of a sickness.