Overcoming Writer’s Block … with a Holiday Twist
by Ellen C. Buikema
Sometimes life becomes too busy and distraction is needed. Realizing the holidays are quickly approaching, I thought it might be amusing to have some word play, hence this irreverent poem regarding writers’ block—never a fun thing.
by Ellen Buikema, after Clement Clarke Moore
‘Twas the night before critique, when all through my brain
No ideas were brewing, not even a grain.
The keyboard was placed by the laptop with care,
In hopes that a cogent thought soon would be there.
The research was carefully stored in the files,
While visions of accolades went on for miles.
And papa in his jammies, and I in the same,
Had sat ourselves down for a long evening’s game.
When outside of the house there arose such a sound,
I leapt from my chair and peered out at the ground.
The full moon that glowed on the stones in the yard,
Gave illusions of shimmer that took me off guard.
Then what to my shock stricken-eyes did appear,
But a miniature elf in the yard with a beer.
With a little old guzzler so quick to abuse,
I knew in a moment she must be the muse.
With an auctioneer’s speed her curses they came,
And she whistled, and shouted, and called me by name.
“Hey, Ellen, in jammies you spend too much time,
On Facebook and Twitter and nothing sublime.
Your writing is blocked because you read drivel,
Stop the baloney, the blarney and blither — be civil.”
She tipped up the bottle and gulped down some foam,
I knew in that moment the muse would go home.
The tiny old elf who came here from above,
Dropped the truth on me by using tough love.
- The page is blank and so is my mind.
Write about something that makes you angry. Write about how life would be different if you turned a different corner. Write a short scene about death or love.
- Stop the idea train. I want to get off.
Write them all down. Save the ideas for future stories.
- My outline is perfect! First, part one. Then a miracle happens, leading to the story’s apex. Oops, what miracle?
Your outline may need revision. Or try taking a different road and see where the story leads you.
- I’m on a roll, but now there’s nowhere to go.
Step away for the story and do something else. Read a story of a completely different genre than your story, then reread what you’ve written. Introduce a spicy complication.
- Oh, crap. I should have gone in a different direction four chapters ago.
Rewind in order to avoid alternate timelines.
- My characters have become dull and lifeless.
No worries! A conflict will arise. Maybe a minor character will end up becoming the protagonist.
- Paranoia takes over. Everyone will hate my work.
We are our own worst critics. Fix the writing demons during revisions.
- I don’t like my verbs. My adjectives are lame.
See the scene in your head. Take a day or two to ponder different wording. Over a week is too long. Pick a verb and get on with it.
- The idea looked great in my head but isn’t translating well to the written word.
Don’t trash the idea. Use parts of it. Step back and write a summary of what you’ve written. Are there some buried parts that should be turning points? Try writing from another character’s point of view.
- Revisions are not working!
Try rewriting sections of the story without looking at the original.
Ellen Buikema is a parent and former teacher. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, she received her M.Ed. specializing in Early Childhood. She has extensive post-graduate studies in special education from Northeastern Illinois University. Ellen writes short stories, poetry, adult nonfiction and children’s fiction, sprinkling humor everywhere possible. Ellen’s book, Parenting … A Work in Progress, is published and available online. Find her at ellenbuikema.com. Follow her on Twitter: @ecellenb.