For the last stream’s exercise, we I decided to try a new kind of exercise: writing our greatest fear.
To start, we brainstormed a bunch of fears, then chat voted on the one we’d write (“social situations” was the winner). We then wrote three opening sentences for three different social fears, and in the end, “chatting on Twitch” was the winner.
For the exercise we wrote for 30 minutes about a character going through that fear, then we stopped, wrote the sentence “Then I decided not to be afraid anymore,” and had the character overcome it.
It’s a different exercise than we usually do, but it was a lot of fun. Fear can be a great driving force for a character, and this was no exception.
Here’s what we came up with:
I’m watching my favorite streamer, but he has no idea I even exist. I’ve never posted a single thing in his chat once for the past six months I’ve watched him. Every weekday when he streams, I just keep him on in the background while I do homework, and listen to him read off the comments he gets. I can’t believe how brilliant some of his chatters are. They come up with these quips on the fly that I could never think of in a million years; the perfect balance between sassy and topical. How do they do it?
When I finish my work, I sit back, watch, and laugh along with the stream. Occasionally I consider typing in comments of my own, but my fingers never make it past typing the first word. Yes, chat is brilliant when it comes to memes and comebacks, but they can be harsh too. Any time the streamer messes up, they’re the first to pounce, like hyenas on fresh meat. The streamer manages to laugh along, but I couldn’t imagine dealing with that. What if they made fun of what I said? What if the streamer read it and didn’t like it? Or, even worse, what if they all just ignored it? I’d never be able to sleep again.
But then during one stream, the streamer started playing a new game all about a character in a fantastic world where words and numbers are alive. He laughed and said, “Man, I hope the Humbug and Tock are playable characters in this game.” I chuckled to myself, him of course making a reference to my favorite book The Phantom Tollbooth, and I waited for chat to laugh along too. But no one got it. All they posted were question marks and witty comments. The streamer smiled in a sad way, and asked if anyone got the reference.
My heart beat fast. This was my chance. But the fear was killing me. I could feel it choking me like I’d swallowed a Jolly Rancher whole. What if chat made fun of me? What if I’d actually misheard him? What if… what if… ?
Then I decided not to be afraid anymore.
“I’d prefer to play with King Azaz and the Mathemagician personally,” I typed in. I read the words over and over again, desperately checking for any spelling mistakes. I took a deep breath, hovered my finger over the Enter key, and then slammed it down.
My text appeared in the box. I fell back in my chair, half out of relief and half out of exhaustion. I waited for the streamer to notice, counting the beats of my heart. One second passed. Two seconds passed. Three seconds passed.
“Hey!” he cried, tossing his hands in the air with excitement. “Seems like someone out there gets it. Thanks, Sephiroth_Butter95.”
I grinned so hard it hurt, typed “hey no problem” in chat, and hit Enter again much more easily this time. He read my comment, smiled, and went back to the game. I breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe this whole chatting thing wasn’t so bad?
Then my name appeared in chat, highlighted in red. Someone had mentioned me. Oh no. They were going to make fun of me, call me a nerd or something! I slowly brought my eyes to their comment:
“Hey @Sephiroth_Butter95 what is he talking about? Let us know!”
I smiled, typed my reply, and didn’t even notice when I hit Enter.
I think writing about your own fears/hopes through fiction can be quite cathartic. It lets you see them from an outsider’s point of view, and perhaps even visualize a way to overcome them.
As writers, I think we suffer from more anxiety/stress than the general population. While that can sometimes be a hindrance to getting work done, here we used it to our advantage. I have a feeling we’ll be doing this exercise again in the future.
After that we moved on to today’s prompt, and chat voted for this image prompt submitted by TheBeigeGiraffe: “You have a small beach by your house, and lately clocks and watches have been washing ashore in droves. Strangely, they all show the exact same time….”
I have to admit, of the three prompts, this was the one I was least looking forward to writing. I had absolutely no idea where I could take it, least of all in a satisfying direction.
But I should know better by now than to ever doubt chat. All it took was just a few amazing suggestions, and then the juices flowed so hard it was in danger of turning into a waterfall. I absolutely love the chilling tale we came up with.
If you want to join us and help write a story by trolling in chat, or share your own writing for feedback, then we’d love to have you. We stream on Twitch every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 7:30pm-10:30pm (U.S. Eastern Standard Time).
Hope to see you next time, friend!
Scott Wilson is the author of the novel Metl: The ANGEL Weapon, forthcoming November 2018.
Featured image: Pakutaso