B – Blocked, Not A Single Word

The dreaded writer’s block. You either can’t figure out what to say or how to say it.  It is particularly defeating when it occurs before you even get started.  My worst writer’s block always comes at the beginning of a project.

I’ve come up with what I feel is a brilliant idea for a story: A teenage girl, a ballerina with a bright and successful future, is paralyzed in a car accident and now has to face the reality of a life not doing the only thing she’s ever imagined.  Okay!  Let’s get started, right?


How is this car accident going to happen?  What kind of injury can she sustain that would permanently paralyze her from the waist down, but not be life threatening?

This is one of my biggest problems (and one from which I’m currently suffering): Getting bogged down in the details.  It’s so hard to write an accurate and believable story without the needed lingo, jargon, and knowledge.  I’ve said before that research can be daunting, and require a lot of extra work on the part of the writer that might not be necessary if one chose a storyline based on things about which one already has all the needed knowledge.  But truth be told; we don’t have all the knowledge in the world.  My first MS was based on my personal experience, and I still had to do some research, because I was the basis for only one of the characters.  I needed to know what the doctors would know; what the social worker would know.  So I had to go find out.

Unfortunately, if you’re like me, a problem like this can arise before a word is even written, and you find yourself years from now saying, “I have a great idea for a novel.  I just don’t know how to get started.”  Speaking from experience, I can say, don’t let that stop you.  However, cliche you may think your story is, however challenging the research may be, however doubtful you are in your writing abilities, none of that can be tested if you never write.  I assure you, it has taken a lot of self-talk, but I finally just started writing and decided I could get the information I need along the way.  Do the same.  Just write.



Filed under writing

10 responses to “B – Blocked, Not A Single Word

  1. Beautiful advice, and good for you! 🙂

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      I’m glad you think so. I wish I could claim it as my own, but it’s been giving to me by people I know just about every time I complain about being blocked.

      • Takes a strong person to listen, though. Some people like to complain for the sake of complaining, but you’ve taken the advice and now you’re sharing it. 😀 Bravo!

  2. I am exactly like you. Writers block always comes at the begining before I have even written a word. It’s a tough one to get passed.
    I find what helps is trying to not get hung up on the begining. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      Those first words are always a struggle. There are so many great opening lines throughout literary history. The good news is a good editor can move a best line to the beginning and make it work. So, no need to white that perfect opener! Woo, that’s a load off!

  3. One of the things that has stopped me from writing is the absurd idea that I have to start at the beginning and work towards the end. Now, when a scene pops into my head, I try to get it written down. Some day maybe I’ll be able to puzzle all of the pieces together 🙂

    • Jennifer Marshburn

      I used to have that silly “being at the very beginning” notion too. It was thanks to my writing group’s advice that I realized the nifty little trick of starting wherever you can, and it helped me finish my MS. Here’s to putting the puzzle together. 🙂

  4. I find writing things in the order they occur to me works well. Often, the story takes new turns when I go to knit the individual scenes together into a coherent narrative. When I was in college, I used to write papers in the order I thought of ideas, and then number the paragraphs to write the final version. Sometimes I get blocked because my original idea leads me down a dead-end path, and trying to figure out “How do I get from paragraph 4 to paragraph 7?” sets me off on a new train of thought altogether.
    The other trick I use is to turn the story around. Say, the ballerina was driving the car, and the accident was the result of an intentional decision to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Now, instead of being the victim, she has to deal with the consequences of a sacrifice she chose in the heat of the moment.

  5. Of course, nothing opens new avenues of thought like a good alien or robot angle. You know, young ballerina with a bright future is paralyzed after being hit by a car driven by an alien, and must face the reality of not doing the only thing she ever imagined unless she has her brain transplanted into a robot body. I’m just saying…

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