Monday, June 11, 2012

A Step in the Write Direction

June 11, 2012

Thought for the Day:
You are obligated to understand
that you are unique in the world.
There has never been anyone like you
because, if there were,
there would be no need for you to exist.
You are an utterly new thing in creation.
Your life goal is to realize this uniqueness.

~ Aaron Perlow (Itturay Torah)
Puzzle for Today:

At least 11 words can be formed from the word therein without rearranging or changing the order of any of the letters. (Answer next week!)

Writer’s Newsletters

Hope Clark is one of the best sources for writer’s newsletters. She has three: Funds for Writers, Small Markets, and Children’s Markets. To get on her email list, write to:


I have to delete this portion from my critique group because I won’t be sharing this good news with them until we meet tomorrow, but…I received an email from Harvest House last Thursday that they are accepting my Rhyme Time Bible Stories picture books!! I submitted them as 12 separate books, but they will bring it out as one book titled My Rhyme Time Bible for Little Folks. I’ve proofread for the company for over 15 years, but this is my first sale to them.

Writer’s Block

Have you ever sat down at your keyboard and suddenly your mind goes blank? Nothing will come. There are several reasons for writer’s block. A few of them are:
Sometimes when writer’s block hits, your body and mind is saying you need a break. You may have recently lost a family member or close friend. You or someone in your family might be dealing with a serious illness. You may be in the middle of a relationship problem with a friend or relative. Or you’ve lost your job and are facing a tough financial crisis. Although it’s hard to write at times like this, try to jot down notes while you’re going through these tests. They can be the seed for an article or short story later to help others experiencing similar situations.
A Difficult Assignment
Perhaps you have an assignment that is not to your liking or you feel you don’t have the ability to write it. You can’t get the impetus or courage needed to complete it—or even start it. After completing two books for John Wiley & Sons on operating a typing service and an income tax business, the editor asked me to write a book on opening a computer store. Computers were rather new at that time—and I didn’t even have one. I interviewed one store owner, but what he shared was pretty much Greek to me. I did not accept the assignment, feeling that the subject would be better covered by someone more knowledgeable.
Too Many Assignments
You’ve sent out several query letters and received a go-ahead on most of them. They all have deadlines, causing you to feel totally overwhelmed. If this is the case, sit down and make a list of each one with the due date. Concentrate on the article that must be done first, and put the others out of sight until you’re finished. If you need to obtain more facts and quotations for the remaining articles, send out your requests before you start the first assignment.
No Inspiration
Kathi Macias says on the Writer’s View Web site: “I’m journalism-trained. As a result, I learned early on that if we want to make a living by arranging words on paper, then few of us have the luxury of waiting for the muse to whisper, wrestle with writers’ block, or write only that for which we have a passion. If I were a nurse, would I be able to work only on the days I feel a passion to patch up broken bodies? If I were a teacher, could I teach only on the days my pint-sized pupils stirred up my passion? If I were President, could I govern only on the days my polls were favorable?

“If we’ve been called to do a job, we do it—period. On the days we have a passion for it, whoopee! Rejoice and enjoy it! On the other days, do it anyway. It’s amazing how much steadier our writing income will be when we approach it with that attitude.”

An anonymous author writes, “If you wait for inspiration, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.”
You’re Stuck in Your Writing
One of the biggest reasons for this happening is that you haven’t planned in advance what you’re going to write. In my first nonfiction book on setting up a typing service, I got bogged down in the chapters until I realized that I needed to outline each chapter as I would an article. Once I did this, I found it easier to finish the book. On the second book dealing with setting up and running an income tax business, I outlined so thoroughly at the beginning—heading, subheadings, even sub-subheadings—that when I sat down to write, I completed the book in 30 days.

Another problem, if you’re writing fiction, may be that your characters have taken over the story and you don’t know where they’re going next. Or—if nonfiction—the details in your article or book just don’t seem to come together like they should. If this is happening, go back and re-read your synopsis or outline to remind yourself of the theme and the takeaway you want to leave with readers. If you haven’t developed an outline, now is the time to do so. Former baseball player Yogi Berra says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” How true! If you don’t know where you’re going, the readers won’t either—if it gets past the editor to the reader, that is.

If you’re still stuck, pick up an instruction book on the genre in which you’re writing and follow some of the author’s suggestions. Or join a group of writers who meet on a regular basis for encouragement and critiquing. You’ll come away with not only help for your manuscript, but a renewed desire to continue.
Get away from writing for a while. Take a walk or a nap, have a snack, go for a drive, work out at a gym, enjoy a lunch with friends, take a weekend vacation. Even getting away from your keyboard for an hour or so to do something in the house or workshop will recharge your creativity.

Next week we’ll share some more suggestions on dealing with writer’s block.

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Have a good week. We’re looking forward to our daughter and family coming tomorrow from Oklahoma to visit for two weeks.


  1. Thanks for the piece about writer's block. I needed that info this week.

    1. Thanks, Emily. I think we all need that at times!