Getting Unstuck

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This week I asked my fellow bloggers to share ways that we deal with writer’s block.

Since I’m used to dealing with several different issues at any given time, I’m often faced with the inability to write when I have the time, or “on command” as it were. And right now, available time to sit and write is at a premium. I’m dealing with packing up my household in preparation for moving to a new home. We’ve been here for thirty years, so there are lots of memories here. I have lots of decisions to make as far as what to keep, what to sell, and what to give away or toss. 

Fortunately, our decision to move was not a sudden one. I had time to get used to the idea, and while we began our search, I took the time to write an outline of what the next story would be about. I’m definitely a plotter when it comes to writing, so having story details nailed down helps a lot.

Another thing that helps me is having writing friends who get together on a regular basis just to write. One of my writing groups has regularly scheduled Zoom meetings three times a week during which we check in at the top of the hour, declare what we’re going to work on, and then turn off our microphones and cameras while we work. We check in again at the top of each hour to share what we got done and what we want to do next. I’ve managed to get a lot of writing done during these meetings, although lately I’ve been using the time to work on my blog post or plan the university class I’ll be teaching in the fall. In addition to checking in, we use this time to brainstorm solutions to plot problems or unruly characters.

I’ve also put out calls on social media in various writers groups or even or sometimes to the people who follow my author page, asking for someone to help me solve plot problems and often had productive discussions that resulted in my being able to continue writing. 

Despite all the available willing helpers, there are times when I just need to figure things out myself. A few years ago, I attended a workshop given by my good friend Elizabeth Meyette. She’s been a guest here at Four Foxes, One Hound with her mystery series. In her workshop, Elizabeth gave several great ideas for dealing with the dreaded inability to figure out what comes next in our stories. But the one that stuck with me – and the one I’ve used more than once – is the trick of writing the question that needs to be answered with my dominant hand and then putting the pen or pencil in the other hand. I was extremely skeptical until I tried it. At the time, I was working on my historical novella Lost in Lavender and I needed to figure out how my hero, a landscape architect, would meet and spend time with my heroine, a milliner. What would be the impetus for starting their relationship? At the workshop, I wrote the question with my right hand and then put my pen in my left hand. And then, in very shaky penmanship, I wrote He has a poor sense of direction. Aha! Problem solved. My hero, James Benton, repeatedly got lost when walking from one place to another, but for some reason kept finding his way to her hat shop. From there, the story flowed. I realized he was a lot like my true-life hero in that he would become lost in his thoughts and forget where he was. 

Since then, I’ve used this technique a few more times. If it didn’t take so long to write longhand, perhaps an entire book could be written left-handed!

About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
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14 Responses to Getting Unstuck

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    Well, firstly — good luck in your relocation. I know that’s a LOT of work, because we’ve moved SEVERAL times, including from N.W. Louisiana (where we’d been for 26 years) to S.E. Kentucky in 2006. [There are still some boxes we haven’t un-packed!]
    Now to the topic — I absolutely LOVE this idea of Meyette’s about using the “other” hand to write the answer. In my case, I do several things lefty anyhow — and I’m able to use my computer mouse lefty — so it might not be quite as dramatic a revelation. But I’m certainly going to try it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Thanks for the good wishes! We moved several times in our first ten years of marriage, but we’ve been here long enough to accumulate a lot. It’ll be interesting to see how other people do with the hand-switching technique. Maybe it won’t work every time and for everyone, but sometimes anything is worth a try!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Diane Burton says:

    I remember the workshop Betty did where she mentioned that technique. So glad it works for you. I’ll have to try it. The graphic at the top of your post is exactly where I am in my WIP. Perfect timing.

    Good luck with your move. Did that 8 years ago. No way would I want to do it again. I told my daughter that they were going to have to carry me out of this one feet first. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      There were a lot of good ideas given at that workshop, but this is the one that I remembered, and it worked when I needed it! Hope it helps you. And yes, I don’t plan to move again until the kids have to physically move me.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kara O'Neal says:

    So, I play Text Twist. I take a break and do something that allows me to think in a different way, but I can still think about the book at the same time. It usually helps!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I sometimes play word games too – maybe it makes me feel like I’m working! But I’m afraid I don’t think about the book I’m writing when I play those. Even when I’m doing something else creative – sewing, painting, scrapbooking – I can’t seem to solve my story problems. Thanks so much for weighing in!


  4. What an interesting idea…switching hands! I will file that away for future reference if needed.
    I read on FB that you were getting ready to move. Oh, man! You have no idea of what we have accumulated in our 26 years in this house. I would like to downsize and be at least in town, if not in a city, but besides the fact that economically, it is out of the question, I need a lot of time to clear out.It doesn’t help being married to an OC packrat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I’ve been working on purging for the last six months! I can’t believe how much stuff I had. Still have a lot to go through before we’re done. Thank goodness for online places to sell and give things away!


  5. Moving is always a hassle, and it can disrupt our lives for months. In my life, I’ve moved more times than I can count, from Wisconsin to Illinois to Missouri, back to Illinois to California, back to Illinois to Florida to Ohio, back to Florida, and finally to Texas. Within those states there was more than one move as well. So, I wish you well. But it can also be an adventure. Take notes. LOL

    As far as writers block, since I started writing in 2005, I’ve never had the dreaded situation as described by so many writers. There have been moments where I wasn’t sure what the next sentence should be, or the next chapter. But after praying about it and getting up from the desk to do a chore or take a walk, the next line or scene always presented itself.

    Have you tried leaving the desk and jotting down whatever comes to mind while doing something else, whether it has to do with your story or not? It means carrying a pen and notepad with you, or a mini recorder, but it might help. For most of every day, my thoughts are on my characters no matter what I’m doing. Keeping your mind active with description or ideas might jog the right sequence into place when you go back to the computer. Just a thought.

    Have a smooth transition to your new home.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      We’re moving about ten miles farther out of town, so it’s less stress than moving to a new state. Still, it seems there is are so many details to take care of.
      I do try to write down ideas I get at inopportune times, but I’ve never been good at keeping those notes where I can find them later! Thanks to my smart phone, I can write notes to myself there. The phone also has a voice recorder, so that’s a good idea, too. Thanks for weighing in!


  6. I’ve tried different techniques, going back a scene, or reminding myself of the character’s goal, or reviewing Scene/Sequel structure. But I’m going to give this right hand/left hand technique a shot on the story I’m brainstorming right now! Loved the post!


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Your ideas are good reminders for keeping the story on track. Hope the hand-switching technique works for you! And thanks for stopping in.


  7. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I don’t know if I could do left handed writing or not, but it’s sure worth a try.


  8. I enjoy moving though I know that other’s do not. Good luck with your new home.
    Writing in your non-dominant hand seems like a strange thing to do but if it works! I might have to give that a try myself.


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