Thursday, February 12, 2009


When I was a young single woman, I sometimes bought new underwear to avoid doing the laundry. Even today, I'm able to wait until my dresser drawers are empty before I start a load. (Except for fresh clean sheets and towels which I love.) So I know I'm in trouble if heading to the laundry room seems more appealing than facing my work-in-progress.

For a long time, I avoided the term writer's block. I think it was a result of hearing a well-known writer confess she'd suffered from it for five years. But there really isn't a more fitting reference. The times I've been afflicted with the ailment have usually been because I'm overwhelmed with too many tasks or because something is not working with my story.

When either of those two things happen, I have to fight the urge to head toward the washing machine and push the normal cycle button. Instead of pondering about my characters, I fantasize about empty laundry hampers and clean socks. But over the years, I've come up with my own treatments for writers block that have nothing to do with fluff and dry.

The first thing I try is webbing. It's the brainstorm tool I use almost daily and when I'm blocked on a story, I find setting the timer for ten minutes can offer miracles or, at the least, the next sentence. Once I had a bad case of writer's block. My deadline to turn in a draft had long passed. I was scared. The more time that went by, the more writing seemed an impossible thing to do. Finally I gave myself permission to write anything. I went to a coffee shop and webbed for a few minutes. My heart pumped faster and I rediscovered the joy of putting words on a page. The result was the picture book-Skinny Brown Dog. Sometimes you just have to put a pen in your hand and allow yourself to have fun. I was able to return to my novel the next day. That exercise taught me that when I'm blocked on one project, I can still write.

Some days all I need to do is get in my car and head down Highway 27 to Happy, Texas. The wide open spaces that stretch before me are almost zen-like and quiet a busy mind. It is one of the perks of living in the panhandle.

When webbing and driving don't ease the pain, I put down my pen and do something else creative. Those days you might find ten buttermilk pies cooling on the kitchen counter. If I can't make my word count goal at least I can be a prolific pie maker.

And I guess, if all else fails, there is always laundry to do.


  1. You know, I go through a similar process with my art. Sometimes there's nothing more terrifying than a big ole blank sheet of paper. I say, "Ah, who cares-just draw!" Amazing things can happen.

    Nice post. :) Oh, if you've never seen the movie Happy, Texas-I highly recommend it. I love Steve Zahn, and he shines in this movie. Very cute and fun movie.

  2. I've been meaning to watch that movie. Thanks for reminding me to put it in my queue.

    I hope you don't have to stare down too many blank pages.

    Thanks for making the debut!

  3. (ok, I am REALLY technology challenged! I tried to do a comment twice and somehow lost it!) Maybe 3rd time is the charm?

    One of my most valuable treasures is a cookbook/scrapbook my daughter Casey made for me. She asked my friends for their favorite recipe and for a photo of them taken in their kitchen. Remember? You invited Casey to come take the picture in your beautiful kitchen and when she arrived you not only had a recipe for buttermilk pie but a freshly baked pie to bring home! What a wonderful suprise from a wonderful friend. I am so glad you have this blog. Since I seldom see you any more now I can come to your blog and peek at a slice of your life. One of your biggest fans, Carol

  4. Oh, Carol. I'm sorry. I hope others aren't having a problem posting. Please let me know folks, if you are. Email me at

    Carol I do remember that cookbook and the visit with your daughter. I think that was one of the most precious gifts a loved one could give another. She took so much time, contacting everyone, gathering the recipes, meeting with them to take their picture. What a keepsake! Thanks for stopping by.