July Theme: BOOM! BANG! Be Gone, Evil Spirits! by Trudi Trueit

A few years ago, while researching a children’s book I was writing on the history of gunpowder, I learned a little something about the origin of fireworks. It was the ancient Chinese, who first invented the concept of fireworks. They would toss bamboo onto the fire—it explodes when roasted—so the bang would ward off evil spirits. Eventually, they packed the shoots with sulfur, charcoal, saltpeter, and other goodies to get an even bigger blast. All I could think was, wow, those must have been some mighty nasty spirits! 

Anyway, this month’s theme got me thinking about all of the ‘evil spirits’ that have crept into my writing space over the years. By now, I know them well. There’s the devilish imp that sits on my shoulder as I write and whispers, “What are you doing? That’s not any good.” And the lethal vapor that arrives with each rejection to snort, “See, I told you nobody would want it. Why don't you just quit?” Maybe some of these spirits have haunted you, too. There’s the ‘No Time to Write’ sprite. The confidence-shattering, ‘You Have Nothing of Value to Say,’ demon. And, my personal favorite, the ghoul that shows up to your first book signing to hiss, “Not exactly standing room only in here, is it?”

There are times when these evil spirits win a battle or two. Naturally, I get discouraged when something I write is turned down by an editor or gets poor critical reviews. But I do not let it linger. I don’t give disappointment time to sink into my skin and fester. I allow myself no more than half a day to wallow in self pity. The next morning, I gather my courage and launch my own brand of fireworks to scatter the spirits: I write.

What I write doesn’t have to be great. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be something. An effort. Even the tiniest forward motion will drain the life from a harassing spirit.

Another way I have found to squelch the writing spirits is by lending support to another writer. Any time I can give a positive word, helpful feedback, or an attentive ear to a creative being, I am reminded that I do not take this journey in solitude. And that gives me peace. Which gives me hope. Which inspires me to - you got it - write. 


I would love to hear what fireworks you send up to keep your evil writing spirits away. Seems to me, that the more we support each other in our artistic endeavors, the brighter we all shine.

Ready? Let’s light this candle . . . 

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Trudi Trueit is the author of the Secrets of a Lab Rat series (Aladdin), as well as more than eighty nonfiction titles. Look for her new tween novel, Stealing Popular (Aladdin MIX) coming this September.


  1. Trudi, you are so right on that supporting each other makes a real difference! It is so easy to fall into Solitary Writer mode, and while I kinda love that, I've learned that I *have* to connect with other writers. Even with best intentions, I'm not always as proactive in seeking people out — so this year a friend and I committed to a monthly writer date. It's on the schedule, so it MUST be important! Another thing that has helped me, particularly in the last year and a half or so, is writing morning pages each day (an Artist's Way tool). Taking just a few minutes to do that first thing somehow clears out the junk in my head (like a big bang BOOM?) and better prepares me to show up on the "real" page.

  2. FANTASTIC ideas, Lisa. You don't realize until you reach out to other writers how much it can motivate you - took me a long time to discover this! Love the morning pages idea, too. And for those who don't know Lisa's work, go find her books. She is an amazing nonfiction author!

  3. Totally agree--supporting other authors in their journey is soooo good for the soul...

  4. Thanks, Holly, for the support! ;)


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