The other day, I spent my morning molding impressionable young minds at one of our local high schools. A good friend of mine is an English teacher, and twice a year I speak to his classes about writing. The kids in his classes are always funny, smart, and observant.
I usually have a favorite question. This year it was: "Do you feel like a psychopath when you write?" My immediate reaction was to laugh. Horror writers have that reputation. As if we have a basement full of corpses. That's not true. They're really in the attic.
I choose topics and stories that get under my skin. Write scenes that disturb me, bother me. Hopefully that creates the same reaction in the reader. And the greater and more disturbing the evil, the greater the triumph when the good guys win in the end (at least with some of my endings).
A few of the kids always want to be writers. They ask for my best advice. I always tell them to write a lot and read a lot. Sitting down and putting words on the page is the only way I know to become a writer. A thousand words per day nets you a first draft in two or three months.
I'm going back next week to talk to another class. We'll see if I get the psychopath question again. In the meantime, I'll practice my dead-eyed stare and creepy laugh.