In For Writers, Writer's Block

I recently started working on my next novel. Exciting, right? Well

Staring at a blank screen for the past couple of weeks has made me wonder…am I once and done?

In hindsight, writing Empty Arms was sort of like baking chocolate chip cookies from pre-made dough. Since that novel was inspired by a true story, it arrived in my life with all of its ingredients in place. All I had to do was cut it, shape it, and manage not to burn it (which was actually more difficult than it sounds).

Writing Book #2, on the other hand, is like baking cookies from scratch…and I don’t have any of the ingredients. So I decided to begin researching a theme that’s been on my mind, searching for ideas. Slowly but surely, I’ve found a cup of flour here, a teaspoon of sugar there, a pat of butter, an egg…all of which has come together and given me a raw shapeless lump.

Discouraged and afraid, yesterday was one of those days when I felt more motivation to fold laundry than to stare at the blank screen. Unwillingly to give in completely, I decided to take my own recent advice, and I listened while I worked. I stumbled upon a creative writing series on YouTube that discusses all of the ingredients you need to make a great story. Thinking it would be a nice refresher, I decided to tune in while I folded towels and matched socks. I had no expectations whatsoever, I just needed to be engaged in something writing related so I didn’t feel like I was squandering away valuable time.

Then something unexpected happened: a story idea appeared out of thin air. I dropped my husband’s undershirts and rushed into my office to write it down. And when I was done, I returned to the laundry and continued listening. I had no sooner tucked away my yoga pants than it happened again, another idea. Back and forth I went, jotting down character traits, putting away pajamas, scribbling scene ideas, putting away underwear, until I finally abandoned the laundry all together and focused my full attention on the videos and the mini-breakthroughs I was having.

It was great. I was in the zone. And then it happened: I found the chocolate chips.

Feeling stalled? Below are links to the Creative Writing Story Structure series I mentioned above. (I’m providing links to all 12 parts because they’re not that easy to locate on YouTube).

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Happy writing!

(And now I’m off to find me some cookies!)

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Showing 6 comments
  • Mari Passananti

    Good for you for getting things done while feeling stuck. My mo is to stare at the screen and move commas around until inspiration returns. Your method sounds far more productive.

    • Erika

      Oh I’ve been there, Mari 🙂

  • Ashley Prince

    I will have to listen to these. I’m glad you found your inspiration. 🙂

    • Erika

      Thanks, Ashley. And I hope you find yours too 🙂

  • Catherine

    My problem is that I get my ideas driving, or even staring at the blank laptop screen while curled up in bed. That’s fine but it means my laundry never gets folded! Hardly ever!

    • Erika

      Eh, wrinkle-free clothes are overrated 😉

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