Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Writer’s block can be more fun than you think" by T. Lynn Adams

Writer’s block can be more fun than you think
By T. Lynn Adams
Call it mental constipation, arthritis of the mind, or just plain writer’s block. In all cases, it turns mental acuity into sludge.

Sometimes it only slows the mind for a few hours. Other times blank screens can stare at us for days, even weeks. Few things are more discouraging and defeating than writer’s block.
Few things can be as fun, too.

Let me share with you a favorite solution I’ve used for years. It only takes 15 minutes. Best of all, it is a crazy way to squirt mental oil through your thoughts.

So, set the timer for 15 minutes.

Now, quick--jot down the first three nouns that pop into your mind. Don’t think about them, just write them as they come.

(The first three that came to my mind were feather, radiator and Twinkie. Yours may be piglet, house, and bracelet.)

As soon as you have your three nouns, start writing a story with them. Don’t stop to think about your choices. Don’t stop to develop a plot line or characters. Just start writing. You only have 15 minutes to create and complete a very, very short story incorporating all three of those nouns.

And you must finish it before the timer stops. No novels here. Only one story, fully contained in a few paragraphs.

Don’t worry about style, punctuation or anything else. Just determine to spit out a complete story in a few minutes. And no fair changing a single noun! That is the fun of it. Just go with whatever popped into your head—no matter how unrelated they seem. You will be surprised at how you can weave them together.

When you're done, if you want to see what I did with a feather, radiator and a Twinkie, hop on over to my author’s blog at It took me seven minutes to write the story, though I did cheat and punctuate it before posting it on the Web.

Now that you are mentally flowing again, go work on your own stuff. And have fun!


Scott said...

If anybody's interested in a book about the causes of writer's block and how to work through them, check out Unstuck by Jane Anne Staw. I found it interesting and helpful.

Paul West said...

A fun idea.

What about when you're in the middle of a novel and you can't decide where to go next, or how to get MC out of the corner you painted him into?

I remember reading Dean Koontz's book on "How to Write Best Selling Fiction." He said, in effect, to go back two or three pages and begin reading, making small edits as you go, and by the time you get to where you left off, your mind is in the story again and your muse will continue to flow.

Scott said...

One thing that helps me sometimes is to summarize where I'm going next when I finish a writing session, while I'm still in writing mode. Then when I come back, there's a reminder and I don't feel like I have to start from scratch.

I can't remember who it was, but I remember reading that a famous writer used to stop mid-sentence, so when he came back to it, he had to finish the sentence and move on.

And nothing can get you going like a deadline that can't be missed. Even if you don't feel like it, you have to write anyway. That's one benefit of a writers group. You have to have something when you meet.

This is a good topic. Maybe it will help me going again on one WIP that has stalled.

Maria I. Morgan said...

Love this idea! And yes I'll be stopping over at your blog to see what happened to the Twinkie, feather and radiator. Have a fantastic weekend and God bless!