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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Battling Writer's Block by Bea Tifton

You’ve probably heard, Dear Reader, that writers occasionally suffer writer’s block. It’s an affliction of the profession, and sooner or later, it strikes us all. I’d never had it. No, don’t hate me, writer friends. I didn’t say I always write good stuff. I said I’d never run out of reasons to write. But last month? Whoa. The dreaded writer’s block struck. And it left a mark. 

If you’ve never had writer’s block, let me help you with a simulation. Get a milkshake. I prefer vanilla but any flavor will do. When it’s still nice and icy cold, stick the straw in and slurp. Slurp! Slurp! Slurp! Faster! Keep going! Slurp! Go, go, go!

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhgh! Ice ache! Yes, Dear Reader. That excruciating, icepick-right-into-your-brain feeling that crosses your eyes? That’s what writers feel when they’re blocked. Staring at a blank page that seems endlessly long and painfully bright. Straining. Straining. Straining. Nothing. 

I racked my brain. What had I done that could be funny? Had I had any Lucy-like moments this month? Injured myself or had a weird accident? No. Things had been pretty quiet. (That would change. A week and a half ago I slipped on some water my cat had splashed out of the bowl in the kitchen. One leg went one way, the other leg went the complete opposite direction, and my back wrenched itself trying to remain neutral. The result is a pulled hamstring and back strain. But that’s a blog for another day.) Had I instigated or participated in any shenanigans? No. Apparently I am the most boring, unfunny person in the universe. Nothing.

Clouds, Sky Blue, Clouds R.M. White

Then I tried meditating, thinking inspiration would strike. Usually when I meditate, my mind is like a monkey on speed. My meditation teacher used to say, “Just turn those thoughts into clouds and gently push them away.” Well, he would have been proud of the black, empty space my conscious mind had become. Not a cloud in the sky. 

My favorite writer always said, “When you get writer’s block, just write. Just write something, even if it’s just stream of consciousness. Pretend you’re talking to a friend.” Okay. So now I don’t have any friends? I certainly couldn’t think of a good conversation starter. 

I ended up writing a long, not very good blog about my newly adopted Maine Coon Cat, Ranger. I don’t think anyone actually read it but my parents and my best friend, but by golly, I put something up. I did it. I beat the block and just wrote something.  That meant my next blog would be witty, interesting, and absolutely fabulous. Oh, wait. 


Well, there’s always next month. Sigh. Stay tuned, Dear Reader. I’ll get it one of these days.


  1. I've worked as a writer all my life and deadlines always negated writer's block. But now, writing creative fiction, I tend to think we need to just take a break if we're stuck, walk away, and enjoy life. Did anyone see the article about Danielle Steele who wrote 179 books, had nine children, but sometimes wrote for 22 hours a day? Of course, I'm assuming she had lots of paid help, but...that's not "living" and enjoying precious moments on earth. Just my opinion. So...enjoy writer's block!

    1. I was a fan of Danielle Steele, but had no idea she was that dedicated to writing. 22 hours a day? And the 9 children? Wow!!! I've only heard of a couple. I think one son committed suicide.

      I agree, Judy Ann. Sometimes you have to take a break and walk away. Speaking of which, I just realized my blog here is due on Monday, meaning Sundays out, so I need it finished before Saturday.

  2. I did see that article and the same thing struck me when I read it. You offer a great perspective, Judy. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I'm still laughing, Bea. This was funny and interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    Regarding writers' block, what I get isn't exactly that. I'm going along fine, get 3/4 the way through a manuscript, then realize I need to fill in a few more scenes before I catapult the the story to the end, so I can reach my pre-planned word count. Or...maybe I should consider writing shorter stories?

  4. Yes, the middle is often the hardest part. Filling in when you thought you were done is painful. Thanks for commenting, Laurean Brooks.

  5. I'm highly doubtful about Danielle Steele (read her unauthorized biography) wrote for 22 hours a day. I don't believe Nora Roberts even writes that long every day and she's written more than 500? books.

    As to writer's block, I've always been too busy writing and meeting deadlines for one or more things to even think about not writing. Deadlines and contracts have a way of making you write whether you feel like it or not. *LOL*

    1. I believe Nora Roberts has written 225+ books. Interesting point about Danielle Steele is she's on her fifth and present marriage. I do know she's known for writing in long stretches, and one of her other bios say 20 to 30 hours. She's known to juggle five or more book projects at one time. LOL--I know I don't have that kind of stamina.

    2. It does make one wonder about Danielle Steele, Joan Reeves. And I bet being on contract would be a great incentive to overcome writer's block very quickly. Thanks for commenting.


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