The One Thing You Must Do — Always

OK, what’s the worst moment in writing?

It’s not a trick. You know this. Writers know it. We talk about it all the time.

The worst thing about writing is …

when it’s not happening.


You sit at a screen, you wave a pen over a page and




Jerry has writer's block on flick jimmy brown

There’s nothing worse than nothing.

It’s horrible to be sitting at a desk staring at a blank sheet of paper or a blank screen, trying to grasp at some vague and beautiful zephyr of a memory of an idea that you had last Wednesday.

Or digging in your brain, pushing aside all the day’s events, trying to find that little jewel of an idea you had while you were playing third saxophone from the right in the Upton Snodsbury Community Orchestra …

and finding it has vanished.

Sitting in front of an empty space, trying to force something to happen …

091c Cat

… is like trying to squeeze out a …

It’s like … you know …

(insert constipation image here)

(And move quickly on)

(How did I even get there?)


What I’m saying is, staring at a screen

 doesn’t work.

So how do we avoid getting into this situation?

You will all have your own ideas about how to avoid blockage. Please share them.

Here’s what I think.

For one thing, we should never sit alone. We should always have the friendly companionship and the comfort that is provided by

all of our past ideas.

Yes. We need notes.

Ideas are gold.

Don’t ever undervalue them or take them for granted.

If you think of something brilliant, or even a little bit interesting — if you find something that will enrich a piece you are working on, or if you have a sudden flash of inspiration for a new piece …




If it’s the middle of the night and it’s two degrees and you don’t have a pen by the bed … you’re gonna hafta freeze. Get out of bed and find that pen. Write the idea down, before it leaves you. Because it will.

If you are in the middle of a solo climb of the Rhapsody E11 and you’re three thousand feet up and the handholds are getting further apart …


and you have to let go of one hand to pull out your pencil …

write it down.

If you are being attacked by a flying …


… but you get the picture.

An idea is precious and it is made of less than air. If you wait, it will slip away.

Write it down.

Thanks to these people for the images.

“Writer’s block I” by Drew Coffman on Flickr

“Jerry has Writer’s Block” by Jimmy Brown on Flickr

“To All the Worlds” by Tomi Tapio K on Flickr

‘The classic stemming position”


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