If you’ve ever watched The Twilight Zone (1985) there was one episode particularly poignant to writers.
Personal Demons was a story about a man who was a writer. A writing man, you could say. He found himself plagued by these little hooded creatures. They followed him everywhere, creating chaos and mayhem along the way. He tried to talk about these creatures with other people but, of course, no one could see them except him.
One day he looked up and there were those creatures standing around him looking at him. He asked them “What do I have to do to get rid of you?”
One of the little demons stepped forward and said, “Write about us and you’ll never see us again.”
That’s how it is when a writer first gets a glimpse of an idea. It begins as a thought. That’s all, just a thought. It begins to build. Characters show up who act out what you’re thinking. Next thing you know, those characters invade your life.
It’s like having a bunch of little creatures follow you everywhere, wrecking your thought processes, interfering with everyday tasks, sometimes even influencing how you act and interact with other people.
It isn’t until the writer begins the actual writing process that the characters settle down. Once those characters come to life upon the page, they’re still with you, every day and in every step you take. But they’re not clamoring for your attention because they have that now.
I suppose, in a way, a writer can think of it as a birthing process. The characters creating their mayhem are contractions. Putting them on paper is giving them life.
It may seem a bit on the macabre side but it’s part of the creative process. Personal Demons illustrates it in a total of twelve minutes, presenting it as an almost frightening experience.
It can be a little frightening. Until the writer learns and understands that she or he must write stories and characters into being, must breathe life into them so that others can experience them as well.
That’s all characters, ideas and stories want: to be given life.
Watch Personal Demons on YouTube.
Personal Demons, Season 1 Episode 44: