Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick . . .

Alrighty writers, let’s be honest, our worst enemy can be summed up with two of the scariest words in the English language: WRITER’S BLOCK. Whew. Okay, now that we’ve got that off of our chests, let’s go ahead and be honest again. Ready? Here goes: IT HAPPENS TO ALL OF US.

Who? Me? No!

Well . . . Yeah, okay, me.

It’s true, it happens to all of us in some form or another. I know personally, I get stuck the most when I simply haven’t wrote for awhile and everything feels a little stale. Now, make no mistake, I never forget my storyline, my plot, my conflict, the scenes, or my characters. Dear Lord, not my characters! Those select few that are priveleged enough to be called so are forever stored in my memory like stone, completely infallible and unwavering. Some might think me a bit touched, because once created, these special people are, well, just that. People. They become so real to me that I speak of them as though I’ve known each and every one of them my entire life. “Oh no! Mr. Smith wouldn’t do that! He’s far too noble and much too much a gentlemen!”

But, I digress . . .

No, I don’t really forget much pertaining to the things I write, it’s more like I forget how to write after a certain period of time. You see, writing is a lot like sports. (No really, it is.) And you have to keep those muscles “warm,” you must constantly stretch and flex those muscles, or they freeze. Thus, you forget. That’s when you might read your own words and find yourself saying aloud, “how awful! Who wrote this?! I mean seriously!” No? That’s just me? Really?

Okay, so we’re not all ready to be brutally honest with ourselves yet. Don’t worry.

I’ll wait.

Anyway, I’m not too proud to admit that the dreaded “block” has been happening more often than not to me lately, and I’ve found that the more it happens, the longer it takes for me to warm up and get my muscles stretched out again. They’re like rubber bands anymore. If not pulled tight consistantly, they just snap right back. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a new (to me) way to combat these sore muscles. Here’s a CLUE . . .

First, tear up a plain piece of paper into a bunch, (and I do mean a BUNCH), of little pieces. Next, take a few minutes to write down the names of all your main characters on some of the pieces and place them in a pile together, then set that pile aside. Repeat this action for main places in your story, and then once more with types of scenes to write. (i.e. love scene, fight scene, death scene, etc.) Now you’ve got the makings to begin the most fun game of “Clue” ever.

You can most definitely do this by yourself, but I found it a ton of fun to do it with someone who knows my stories nearly as well as I do. Namely, my husband. It made it more fun for me, because I got to share the joke when I pulled out of a box that I should write a love scene between two related women. My husband as well, found this to be extremely humorous to put it mildly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Now, no one is saying that whatever you write must be set in stone. That would really just sap all the fun right out of this new game. No, I envisioned this to be more of a warm-up, a stretch for my sore muscles, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. It made me smile. It made me laugh. But, more importantly, it made me think. And that is something I greatly enjoy doing. Because, for me, thinking opens up brand new worlds that you, as the reader, get to glimpse from time to time.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the view. ๐Ÿ™‚

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2 Responses to “Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick . . .”

  1. Nichole Bernier Says:

    Hi Johnnie, I wanted to reply to your post on my website, both there and to you personally. Thanks for the kind words about the essay, “Does Publishing A Novel Change Your Life.” But I didn’t want to leave you with the impression that book publishing and family are mutually exclusive…. The great thing about publishing today is the flexibility โ€” there’s no right or wrong way to promote a book, and many writers don’t go physically on tour to bookstores much anymore. Social media has made so much possible from the command central of your own kitchen laptop.

    Of course, the first concern is getting the best book written that that you can. And as far as work and passions that work well in the family equation….I look around at friends trying to juggle work and family life, and frustrating as it can be at times, writing feels to me like one of the better careers on that count.

    Good luck with the writing, and with the block! The dam always opens in the most unexpected ways.

    Best,
    Nichole Bernier
    http://www.nicholebernier.com

    • Hey Nichole, I really just wanted to take a moment and thank you so very much for taking the time to reply. I sort of guessed that family and work are mutually exclusive, but it does seem that the writers I have read about who choose to do book tours do have to miss out on time with their families every once in awhile, but I suppose that kind of comes with the terriory with any type of job, doesn’t it?

      Also, something I meant to ask you: As a young mother, I don’t always have the time that I would like to simply sit down and write like I used to. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE both of my children, but sometimes I wonder if my book will ever get done. Did anything like that ever happen to you? And, if so, how did you get past it?

      ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Johnnie

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