Friday, June 26, 2015

Overcoming Writer’s Block


By Sherryl Woods


The creative well has run dry. Your muse is on vacation. The computer cursor mocks you, blinking cheerfully while you struggle to come up with the first word of a new book, much less the first chapter. Writer's block hits almost everyone sooner or later, including the author heroine of "Bayside Retreat," my novella in the Sweet Talk eBook collection available through June 30 to raise money for diabetes research.

But is this curse just part of being a writer, something to be accepted, struggled through, and then overcome? I don't think so. And after publishing a whole bunch of books and novellas during a career that's spanned over 30 years, I think I can speak from experience. Ideas are all around you. Knowing how to recognize them and weave them into a solid story can come with practice.

I credit two things with allowing me to work even when my muse has taken off on an idyllic trip to the South of France, where I desperately want to be. 

First, I spent a number of years as a journalist, paying close attention to the world around me as I looked for fresh story ideas and angles that would keep me one step ahead of the competition. Honing your powers of observation and developing an insatiable curiosity are the cornerstones of good storytelling and character development. And we all have it. By the time we could talk we were asking why is the sky blue, where do flowers come from, why is that lady crying? For writers, it's just a more sophisticated set of questions that can trigger an idea for a character, a motivation for a hero or the key to solving a crime. 

And second, sometimes it all comes down to two little words Mary Higgins Clark shared at a conference I attended many, many years ago: what if? Read an article in the paper, eavesdrop on an argument in a mall food court, watch Dr. Phil, ask someone you've just met how they met their spouse, and then ask, what if? Those two words can kick your imagination into gear and send you off on a journey into an intriguing new story. 

Years ago, there was an iconic line on the TV series The Naked City: "There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them." Next time you sit in front of a blank computer screen, think about that. The world right around you is crawling with stories. Observe and ask what if. You'll be well on your way to telling just one of them.
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Sherryl Woods is a #1 New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods has published over 140 romance, women's fiction and mystery novels and novellas. "Bayside Retreat," her contribution to the Sweet Talk eBook collection, is part of her popular Chesapeake Shores series, which is currently in development for a movie and possible series for the Hallmark Channel. She divides her time between Key Biscayne, Florida and her childhood summer home in Colonial Beach, Virginia. Sherryl is happy to be part of Brenda Novak’s SWEET TALK collection for raising money for diabetes research. For more information, visit her website at www.SherrylWoods.com. From there you can also follow the link to her Facebook page.


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