Monday, July 26, 2010

When the Words Won't Come

I'm sure we've all experience writer's block, that time when the words won't come and we sit at the computer fiddling with the keys or tapping a pencil on a note pad. This issue has been a real problem for me lately. Looking back to the times I was most prolific, I realize a change of scenery was the key to spuring my muse. Now I carry a notepad and when I have to wait at the doctor's office, or anywhere else, I write. When I get home, I transfer my notes to my manuscript.

While on vacation, sitting in the back seat of the car, watching the scenery from the windows, I rapidly filled the pages of my tablet. I think the next time the words won't come, I'll have my husband take me for a drive. He can groove on the scenery and I can write.

What about you? What spurs your muse?

Thanks for reading and writing!



  1. I love your scenery idea. When I went to Colorado for the first time, I had a bunch of ideas of stories when I stared out the car window. Beautiful country.

    I never realized this before, but after reading Nancy J. Parra's blog this morning on Procrastination, I discovered that I spur my muse and get out of writer's block by actually writing something!! I usually just start filling in the Ws of a scene I'm stuck on. Why, where, what, you know. I know I probably won't keep any of that stuff, but it get the muse jump-started.

    Another great idea on Nancy's blog was to purposely write something you know doesn't fit with your characters, forcing your muse to hop foreward and take control of the scene again.

    What wonderful ideas. Thank you.

  2. No, sorry, change of scenery won't work for me. Usually, I need to be really rested, and feeling refreshed. I haven't been that way all this summer while suffering through the blistering heat. I'm hoping my muse will perk up when cooler weather arrives! :)

  3. Linda,
    I'm like Miss Mae. I need lots of rest, and when I am the worlds flow.

    The heat has been a killer this summer.

    Make Larry drive you around the countryside. Smile.

  4. Thanks for those ideas, Linda. I'll give them a try and check out Nancy J.'s blog.

    I hear you Miss Mae and Sandy on being rested. And on the heat. It's been a killer! Sandy, it's about time for another road trip. We're wanting to go to the Bad Lands when it's a little cooler, but not too cool.

  5. LINDA--this was funny. I pictured you in the back seat, strapped in like you would a fussy baby and drive around to soothe it. Didn't you ever do that?
    A change of scenery is often the key--I've experienced the same thing. A few years ago, we drove out to West Texas to attend my 50th high school reunion. On the drive home--hundreds of miles--an idea came to me for an article (my newspaper published it and I sent it to all my classmates--they loved it.)But alas way out there on long miles of empty Texas countryside, I had not one thing to write on or with. The entire thing had come to me and If I didn't get something down, I'd forget. I searched everywhere in the front of the van, and found a heavy blue paper towel folded neatly in the glove compartment--came from a service station windshield cleaning apparatus--you know those heavy thick things? I found a pencil with a nub of lead, and I had to make it work long enough. That taught me a lesson--never go anyplace without writing materials. Your muse especially likes to take a vacation, so of course she'll be along for the ride. Perfect--she can't escape the car. Celia

  6. I have the same problem with heat. Odd but the heat and humidity stop me cold (isn't that an oxymoron or something?). But, when the ideas run out or rather the impetus runs out (I have several Amanda stories to expand and at least eight WIPs in various states, I grab the beads and make something.

    Now I have the added blessing of a beautiful granddaughter (see her on my website or my blog), to inspire me.

  7. Taking a ride on the back of the motorcycle helps clear my head and allows me to work out a scene or an additional scene.

  8. Haha, Celia, I can see the picture in your mind, and yes we drove many a mile trying to quite a fussy baby. I've written on paper napkins often but never a cloth towel. I bet you do go prepared now. Heck, I'd have had hubby pull over to buy a tablet. Of course in west Texas it may have been many a mile before you found a store.

  9. Yes, Ron, those babys do tend to inspire us. Enjoy!

    Victoria, I'm glad riding on a motorcycle can clear your mind. I'd be handing on for dear life. Not that adventerous.

  10. Hi Linda - I can relate to carrying a small notepad. I occasionally write down plot thoughts even though I am not an author. More often as a reviewer I like to jot down thoughts while I am reading the book. I note things about the plot or characters or a special phrase. That is a big help for me.
    I also like to dictate notes but either way I have to transcribe them to the computer which is time consuming but necessary.
    I hope your muse jumps in for you. :)

  11. A change of place is good. Usually when I'm stuck it's became I've written my characters into a corner and they can't act true to their character. Then I reevaluate the scene and the the scene leading up to that scene and figure out what needs to happen and then I'm back to writing.

  12. Linda, sometimes when I'm trying to work out a scene, I go do something mindless, like laundry, while I work it out in my head. It helps to get away from the computer at times.

  13. Great post and comments. A long drive always fills my mind with ideas. We used to make the drive to Lubbock often to check on my dh's parents--so often we new when a farmer or rancher painted his house or had a new truck. LOL The drive has it's own beauty, but it's mind-numbing after a while. That's when ideas pop into my head. A trip to Estes Park CO was a wonderful spur to my muse.

    Other times, I do as one commenter said and just start writing as if I were telling a friend about the scene. Pretty soon, my muse gets annoyed and kicks in to straighten out the story.

  14. MarthaE,
    I can see how important a tablet would be while reviewing books. Without one you'd spend too much time going back looking for details. We appreciate all you reviewers.

  15. Why do we do that, Paty, write our characters into a corner? I've done it often.

    Oh dear, Ilona, don't know that laundry would do it for me. Now, handwashing dishes might as it's time to think.

  16. Caroline, I so understand what you're saying about noting changes on those long stretches we drive. We used to drive from Alpine to Brownwood and Fort Stockton to Brownwood. A lot of ideas passed through my head during that time. I'd write them down when i could.

  17. Hi Linda. Writers block has been on my mind for months. After many years as a music teacher, I'm the new vice principal in a large urban school. The amount of energy I now expend is coupled with a new learning curve - one I didn't expect to have. Edit and revision isn't a problem, but developing a new story is illusive. I start and stop, and without a clear block of time it's difficult to tap that creative muse.

    Since my vacation starts today, I've made one short story a goal in these three weeks. And like most of the responders here, a little less heat would be a real treat :)

    Stay well. You're a prolific writer. I'll bet any dry spell you experience is just a brief glitch in time!

  18. Mickey, a vice-prinipal??? I'm surprised you have time to turn aound. I can't imagine a more stressful or time-consuming job. But, my what a field of potential plots and conflicts!

    Have a wonderful vacation and good luck with your short story.