When Writer's Block Strikes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
That helpless feeling.

Submitted: November 06, 2010

A A A | A A A

Submitted: November 06, 2010



I sighed as I stapled the last 20 sheets of my Writing Folio together. It was all over, after one year of hard slog. As I handed my completed folder to my teacher to send to assessors, my
mind raced with anticipation. Wow. Now that that’s over and done with, I have some spare time on my hands! I’ll be able to start writing fun stuff again, without having to worry about a deadline! Yeah!
Imagine my disappointment when I got home, opened my laptop, but could only stare at the blank word document. Nothing came. Not one sentence.
We’ve all experienced that frustration, and what’s worse is we never know when it is going to end. So how do we cope when writer’s block strikes? In desperation, I made up this strategy. Hopefully it will work as well for you as it did for me.
You’ll need:

1.Some scrap paper cut into strips of equal lengths

2.A pen


First, scratch up some characters from the depths of your journal, or make up some others of various ages, nationalities, etc. Become really familiar with them- what they like, what they look like. Then write each name on a scrap of paper. Here are some of mine:
Naomi Himmel (Elderly lady of German descent)
Hayley Thompson (Blonde, bouncy teenager with a happy smile)
Cody Lewis (Young boy with dirty blonde hair. Rides his scooter everywhere)
Jason Bradshaw (20-year-old rebel who does wheelies at one o clock in the morning)
Nicola Bradshaw (Sister of Jason, goth, plays piano very well, has glasses)
Riley Carter (Dirty blonde. Used to be the school clown. Sees himself as a bit of a failure, as do others. A hot failure, anyway)
Once you’ve got your names, put them in a pile- your ‘Character Pile’. Next you’re going to make another pile- the ‘Location Pile’. Write down on each scrap of paper an interesting location. These are some of the locations I used:
On a crowded train
At the hospital
At the river
In the shower
At the movies
In bed
At the cemetery
On a ship bound for ___
In a strange house
Driving down the highway
In the garden
At the beach
At the ranch
At a homeless shelter
In a change room
At a restaurant
Walking home from soccer practice
At the library
In a post office
Not far to go! Only two more piles. The next one is the ‘Day Pile’. Make up some times, some weather conditions so your pile looks something like this:
One sunny morning
At dusk
One cool, wet noon
Early one rainy morning
One warm, sweaty night
At 10 in the morning
In the midst of a thunderstorm
On a clear winter’s day
At dawn
At midnight
The final pile is the ‘When Pile.’ These will be simple things which could happen in several locations, such as:
The door knocks
They bump into a strange woman
They drop __
The police arrive
Someone they love hugs them
The lights go out
A stripper walks in
An unfamiliar hand touches their arm
Someone screams
They slip and __
They receive an urgent phone call
They stumble across a body
Now here’s where the fun begins- simply pick out a piece of paper from each pile and arrange them as follows:
(Character Pile) is (Location Pile) (Day Pile) when (When Pile)
See how it works now? I’ll give you an example. I happened to pick out-
Riley Carter is at the library in the midst of a thunderstorm when the lights go out.
This is what I came up with. . .
Riley wandered up and down the aisles, scanning the books for something of interest. Not that Riley was a reader- far from it. But the thunderstorm had forced him here, and he needed something to take his mind off the soaked shirt on his back. Sun on the Stubble by Colin Thiele. He pulled out the worn paperback to examine it more closely. To tell the truth, Colin Thiele was the only familiar name he spotted. Great Australian author, wasn’t he? Died not long ago? As he flipped through the yellow pages, a slip of paper fell out. He knelt down and retrieved it. Miss Annalise Stanbrooke. That name sounded familiar too.
“Excuse me,” He looked up, then back down again, for the brown haired, blue eyed girl was at least a foot shorter than him. As she met his eyes, her lips parted in a surprised smile. “Riley Carter? What are you doing here! I never thought we’d meet again, in a library of all places. So now it’s my book you’re trying to steal?” It couldn’t be Lisie, it just couldn’t. But the clear blue eyes were there. And her name was in his hand.
“Uhm, your book?” Riley muttered, lost in her eyes and his confusion.
She laughed. “You know this is the holds section, right? And that’s my book you’re holding.”
He didn’t know that. “Oh, right,” he said, finally regaining some composure. “Yeah I was looking for one of my books. I guess I picked it up by mistake.” Good bluff Riley. It was definitely her. The freckles were somewhat faded, and her figure somewhat fuller, but no one could mistake those eyes or that laugh. The laugh which had once been directed mainly at him. He handed the book to her, and shoved his hands back in his pockets, where they hopefully couldn’t do anything stupid. All he had to worry about was his mouth.
“So it’s been a while,” she said, in an attempt to start conversation, Riley presumed. “I thought you’d left the state.”
“The apprenticeship didn’t work out.”
“That sucks.”
He searched her face in surprise. He was expecting something a little more scathing. “Yeah,” he replied uncertainly.
“Anyway,” she smiled, “I’ll see you round? I’ve got a bus to catch.” She paused. “And you won’t find your book here, Carter, this is the ‘S’ section.”
Not bad, not bad! For a start, I was surprised that Riley would be in a library. But that’s what is so great about this method- it forces you to look at your character in a different light and sets up a scenario which you can tweak and twist to your own liking. In fact, just starting that scene opened up a whole new can of possibilities for me as far as the story was concerned.
So how did you go? Did it work for you? Who knows, sometime soon I may see some ‘Lady Lost Method’ inspired work!
Well, I can dream, can’t I?

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