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Face it, horror scribes: the act of writing a horror story can be a grueling task. Not only is the work itself often challenging, but we spend most of our time dredging up difficult thoughts and emotions most people tend to suppress. With that sentiment in mind, I’ve analyzed some favorite horror films to present this list for your consideration. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go back to the gloominess of my writing room. Sigh.
Annabelle: You write scary stories about vampires and ghosts aimed at elementary students because you’re too afraid to explore the dark and frightening places your imagination can really take you.
It: You know when you finally stop procrastinating and sit down to write your first novel, you’re going to be bigger than Stephen King, because seriously, how hard could this writing thing be?
Hereditary: You have excellent taste in horror flicks because that was some of the scariest shit you’ve seen in a movie in years, and now —three years later—you’re having trouble finishing your novel because you’re still having nightmares about sweet Toni Colette floating in the air and sawing off her own head with a goddamn piano wire.
A Serbian Film: You claim to have been writing splatterpunk before splatterpunk was a thing.
Nightbreed: You think you’re hot shit because you’re close friends with a girl who used to work at Starbucks with the niece of a guy who claimed to have gone out with Clive Barker.
The Amityville Horror: You love finding new places online that are accepting short story manuscripts because that means you can fire off your trove of crummy rejected stories to a brand-new market, en masse.
The Green Inferno: You say shocking and controversial things on Twitter, not because you believe them, but because you care more about boosting your platform than whether or not people actually hate you.
In the Tall Grass: You talk smack with other writers about how Joe Hill is just a Stephen King rip-off, but secretly at night you analyze his novels trying to figure out just how the hell he got so damn good.
Insidious: You start your posts on Facebook with “honored to have my story chosen in such-and-such publication,” not because you’re actually honored, but because you’re too afraid to admit you’re desperate for any kind of attention after choosing to live your life mostly in social isolation — because let’s face it, this scary shit isn’t going to write itself.
Jaws: On your yearly vacation away from writing, you can’t go into the ocean past your waist because of an unrelenting fear that inhabits your very soul, and even when you’re in a lake or a swimming pool, you get visions of a giant shark with jagged teeth coming out of the depth to eat you, despite the fact it’s a physical impossibility for a such a creature to be in such waters.
The Babadook: You suddenly friend other writers on social media, not because you’re genuinely interested in them or being a part of the writing community, but because you’re hoping to see what they can do to advance your career.
Troll 2: You spend all your money and time on writing classes and workshops because it gives you a burst of social recognition and takes everyone’s mind off the fact you’re not sitting down to do the existentially terrifying act of just doing the damn work.
Halloween III, Season of the Witch: On Halloween night, you take the kids trick or treating after the sun goes down because your manuscript didn’t sell and you’re too cheap to spend money on costumes, and you figure since it’s dark, less people will notice.
The Nun: You spend all your time reading books on the craft of fiction writing because somehow it makes you feel like you’re making progress, but it’s actually a distraction that keeps you from sitting down to do the existentially terrifying act of just doing the damn work.
Dr. Giggles: You spend all your time sucking up to famous writers above your level on Twitter rather than reaching out to writers on your level or just below it to build up your writing community.
Hellraiser: You can’t wait for the end of the workday when you get to put away your writing obligations and break out the whips and chains so you and your beloved can play games where the safe word is “banana” and you get to call each other names like “pig,” “slut” and “slave”.
Mandy: You can only write when you’ve had a few drinks or you’re stoned because you feel like it makes you a creative genius like Burroughs or Hemingway but really is setting dangerous and unrealistic expectations on your well-being if you plan on being in this game for a long time.
Sharknado: In your workshop critique group, you’re quick to point out things that the writer is doing wrong, rather than highlighting the things she is doing right.
Antichrist: No matter how much you write, or how hard you work, you’ll never be as good as Stephen Graham Jones.
Robert Stahl is a former bartender who left his bottle opener behind to follow his dreams as a writer. Now the Dallas-based freakazoid writes advertising copy by day and fiction in the evenings. He loves to connect with others about the craft of fiction. Click the link to find his blog as well as links to some of his stories: robertestahl.com.