Welcome to How to Keep Writing Wednesdays, where you'll find a boost of encouragement to help you keep the words flowing.

Monkey Wrenches

In the tool kit of life, there’s always a monkey wrench.

When it comes to writing, monkey wrenches are the best way for your characters to see what they’re made of. What your character ends up doing (or not doing) reveals who they really are. The most successful books and movies are built one monkey wrench at a time.

Whether you’re writing a personal essay (thinking about college, anyone?), writing a novel, or telling your memoir or life story, think about those moments when a monkey wrench turned everything upside down. Then write about it. 

We’re drawn to these stories because they’re the stories of life. Monkey wrenches happen. When we read these stories, we gain the courage to see how we might face similar challenges in our own lives, too.

Monkey wrenches can work for or against us. In literature, just as in life, there are always two sides. Action and reaction. Allowing and not allowing.

So here’s a crazy, radical thought: why not grab a monkey wrench and throw it into a part of your life that isn’t working and just bring it all to a stop?

I’m not proposing ruining or destroying anything that’s good. I’m not suggesting you wreak havoc just for the heck of it or bust things up because you’re bored and want to see what happens. But if you’ve been stuck in a routine, going through the motions of day-to-day life and feeling miserable or unhappy, consider the possibility of just stopping what you’ve been doing with a little monkey wrenching of your own.

What can you do that will shake things up, push you out of your comfort zone, help you rethink what you know? Monkey wrenches serve as a course correction—things were going one way, now they’re going another. If there’s something you’re feeling unsatisfied about, something you want to change, go after it instead of waiting for it to happen to you.