Are you experiencing a roadblock with your story or writing in general? Here’s Seelie Kay to show us how she works through it.
“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in
perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” ― Kurt Vonnegut
While I have never suffered the dreaded writer’s block, I have certainly encountered a number of roadblocks. As a result, I have developed a method for working around, underneath, over, and/or through those temporary “brain farts.”
I will tell you that my first approach is almost always to stop and get something to eat, whether a meal, a snack, or sweet treat. I try to stick to things high-protein, such as yogurt, peanut butter on crackers, or a turkey and cheese roll-up. I have learned that often, my stalled brain is due to a lapse in energy, caused by a missed meal. Of course, sometimes, sugar—often in the form of chocolate—helps, too!
However, when I am well-fed and my brain remains on “pause,” I employ other strategies:
- I take a real break. Not a coffee break, a break from writing. I am a baker at heart, so when I am stumped, I sometimes whip up a pan of turtle brownies or maybe, a new kind of cookie. In summer, I am likely to take a walk around the block or play in my garden. On cold winter days, I may take a freshly baked brownie, make a cup of tea, and curl up in front of the fire, and play Word with online friends.
- I sleep on it. There is just something about a catnap that clears the mind, making it easier to work through a plot or clarify a character. A good night’s sleep not only clears the mind, but if you are a dreamer as I am, it often points you toward an effective solution. However, since I do not always remember my dreams, I keep my phone on hand so I can jot down notes that will jog my memory when I awake. Otherwise, I wind up trying to stay awake so I remember the idea. And that just makes me crabby.
- I engage in conversation. Writing is a solitary pursuit and the resulting isolation is not always a good thing. A conversation can stimulate the mind and thus, new ideas. Sometimes, just talking to a family member or a friend will spark an idea, whether the discussion turns to something in the news, an accomplishment, even a new type of wine. I find the shift from thinking to listening frees up the flow of words and ideas.
- I change the scenery. I have a friend who claims he gets his best ideas sitting on the toilet. Another swears a trip to the grocery store cures all. The point is sitting in front of a computer, your fingers hovering over the keys hoping for inspiration, is much like the “watched pot” axiom, as in a watched pot never boils. When I am stuck, staring at the computer screen is not helpful. I have to get up and move to a new place.
- I shift gears. Many writers have multiple projects in the works at the same time. So, when the ideas stop flowing on one project, it makes sense to move to another. Here’s the thing: Writer’s block tends to be focused on one project, one story, one character, one scene. It is rare that it carries over to “everything writing.” That why shifting gears or projects seems to be an effective way to address a roadblock.
Obviously, everyone deals with writing roadblocks in different ways. What works for one may not work for all. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to what makes the words flow for you and what brings you joy when writing. It’s not always easy, but with a little assist, you can make writing possible.
About Seelie Kay
Seelie Kay writes about lawyers in love, with a dash of kink.
Writing under a nom de plume, the former lawyer and journalist draws her stories from more than 30 years in the legal world. Seelie’s wicked pen has resulted in seven works of fiction, including Kinky Briefs, Kinky Briefs, Too, The Garage Dweller, Kinky Briefs, Thrice, A Touchdown to Remember, and Kinky Briefs, Quatro, as well as the romance anthology, Pieces of Us by the Nu Romantics. Kinky Briefs, Cinque will be released this spring and The President’s Wife is due out in July.
When not spinning her kinky tales, Seelie ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. Currently she resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, WI, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, the Green Bay Packers, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.
Seelie is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!