Getting Unstuck

I am going through a period of Poster’s Block.  Monday night, I started on three different topics for Top Sites Tuesday … and gave up on all three.   They seemed like fresh ideas when the first appeared on my mental horizon but revealed themselves as stale on paper.  They will hibernate, half-written, as WordPress Drafts, for at least a while.  It wouldn’t be the first time that a discarded draft blossomed into a satisfactory post when Poster’s Block lifted.  One of my favorite posts, Dumb Guy Chic, died and was born again twice before I posted it.  I can point to a number of reasons for my malaise … I’ve been busy with family and engineering work … which means I’ve been tired … which means I haven’t been reading or doing Morning Pages regularly.  One solution is a blogging vacation.  Another is a forced march.  Another is canned inspiration.  Boxed, actually.

Looking for a post topic today, I found an orange and white box in a dusty corner of my bookshelf.  It is The Observation Deck by Naomi Epel.   Naomi has accumulated writing tips from hundreds of authors while working as a book-tour escort in the Bay area.  She has assembled these into a unique tool kit for writers consisting of a deck of cards, each with a short tip to inspire or motivate … and a book that discusses each of the tips from the point of view of an author she has known.  She suggests drawing a card when you are stuck then reading the passage in the book.

Let me draw a few to show how it works.   Flip It Over suggests that we take something we have been trying to write and play with its opposite.  If you are writing about a couple falling in love, write about them breaking up, for example.  Choose the Right Name says that sometimes a piece stalls because a character has the wrong name or the piece has the wrong title.   Names are magical, says novelist, John Garner.  If you name a kid John he’ll grow up a different than if you name him Rudolph.   Ribe Tuchus offers the Yiddish advice, rub your bottom on the chair.  In other words, just sit down and write.  Observe a Ritual offers the possibility of beginning and ending every writing session with a small ritual such as lighting and blowing out a candle, or always wearing the same overshirt.  Stephen King ends his writing day by placing a small statue of Rocket J. Squirrel of Rocky and Bullwinkle on his work.

So, here I am, Ribe Tuchus.  I set out talking about Poster’s Block and ended up posting on Getting Unstuck.  There’s a candle burning on my desk and if I don’t remember to blow it out when I’m done, Muri will kill me.  Hey, maybe this works.  One more card: Act Successful – As you write imagine friends and strangers enjoying your work.  I’m imagining … the rest is up to you.  AND: There are 500 words on the page.

You can find The Observation Deck and some more excerpts here.

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3 Comments on “Getting Unstuck”


  1. “I set out talking about Poster’s Block and ended up posting on Getting Unstuck”

    I love when that happens.

  2. Cheryl P. Says:

    Inspiration is a fickle bitch. I have probably a dozen drafts of various sorts that sounded interesting in my head. Unfortunately the finished posts just don’t seem all that interesting.

    Your posts are always interesting. After writing posts everyday, I would think keeping posts fresh would be tough …but yet you do.

    The Observation Deck is a unique approach. I can see that it might spark some ideas.

    My problem is that I do my best writing first thing in the morning but that is also the busiest time of the day for me. At night when I am tired, I can’t write to save my soul. I am not surprised if you’ve been really busy that posting has been difficult.


  3. Is there anything worse than forcing yourself to write through something you know isn’t working? (Not this post – the ones you haven’t published.) I won’t say which of mine came from that kind of labor, but when I re-read, I can always remember. Your writing, as I think I’ve mentioned recently, is almost always based on reflection, where mine is almost always the retelling of an event… so my struggles come when nothing interesting has happened. I can’t imagine you’d ever run short of rumination.


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