1620

When I typed 1620 into Google, I was thinking in terms of the year. I had pictured corsets made of whale bone and gentlemen throwing their waist coats over a puddle for their lady friend to walk over. Romance. Chivalry. Historical. I can write about that. Here’s what I got:

I laughed. I actually backed out of the search and was prepared to type in something far more safe. Victorian, perhaps, where the strangest thing I would get would be an image of a house. Unfortunately, as a writer, you have to write about things outside your comfort zone in order to become better. I will probably never write a non-fiction book about cars. That doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be able to write a few words about them. In fact, learning to write a few words about cars, even if I don’t write directly about them but rather, tie it in to my overall concept, is going to make me better. I find that when I’m writing only a handful of words (25, 50, 100) about things I don’t understand, I’m much more careful- each one counts.

Did I have any desire to do a writing exercise this morning wherein I had to create 50 words about the car pictured above? No. I wanted romance, damn it.

So I did both. I did something solid about cars – a sales pitch with a love angle. Exactly 50 words. No more. No less. Not great. Not terrible. You have to make a concept work for you. Be willing to think outside the box.

Now it’s your turn. Please feel free to share your 50 words in the comments. Trust me when I say that this not a judgmental space.

Just like first love, this car is strong, sturdy, and prepared to steal your heart. Recently restored, it is suited for collectors, first time owners or old souls. Relive your childhood or make memories to share with your children. Take it for a test drive today – you won’t regret it.

What We’re Doing Here

Let’s discuss writer’s block. I find that the opinions on this vary quite a bit. There are those who say that writer’s block is not a real thing – that muses are folly. Personally, I’m of the belief that writers block is a real thing.

“Pish posh!” You might say. Or perhaps, you screamed out a resounding “yes!” in your head upon reading those words. Either way, you’ve made it this far. You may as well keep reading.

I’ve spent countless hours, sitting in from of a notebook or a computer, writing, crossing out, rewriting, standing, stretching, walking around, cursing the heavens, sitting back down and having my mind still be totally and completely void of words. Or perhaps the words are there in a jumbled lot and they kind of trip and stutter their way out onto a page and then – no. Delete. Delete. Delete.

That’s how it went – for years and years and years. I had these high aspirations – writing a book was by and far my largest. And while it was a beautiful idea in theory, I could never write more than a few sentences or a few paragraphs before I’d read back through it, sigh in frustration and tell myself that I was a terrible writer, delete it, shut down my laptop, and writhe around in my disappointment for a few weeks before I tried again. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. For years.

Then, one day, I read some advice that totally changed my perspective on writing. It was in an interview done with one of my favorite authors. She said – quit deleting things or you’ll never finish. Just write it.

Well, gee, I’d never thought about that before. It seemed so obvious. So easy. So simple.

The problem then came down to my terrible writer’s block. It was one thing to write something so awful that you wished only to burn it, but it was an entirely different matter to have nothing to hate on. I had to fix this.

I didn’t know where to begin. I began taking notes. You know, like, when you’re out at dinner and inspiration strikes so you scribble your idea on a napkin, take it home, and turn it into a bestselling novel. The trouble was, by the time I’d get home, I couldn’t get beyond the idea that I’d scribbled down.

I started to do exercises for the old brain. I would wake up a full hour before I had to get ready and go into work. Sitting in front of my computer with a cup of coffee, I’d just type a random word into Google. Fish. Cow. Fire. Purse. Cup. Sing. Apothecary.

From there, I’d click on that handy dandy “images” link. Closing my eyes, I’d pick a random number from one through 10. Then I’d open my eyes, choose that photo (even if I hated it, and more often than not I really hated it) and write 25 words about it. After doing that for a week, I raised that number to 50. Then 100.

Around that time, I started to think, “hey, this whole writing thing is coming to me pretty easily now. I need a bigger challenge.”

That’s about the time that I got it in my head to do 365 with A Twist – a photo/short story challenge. It sucked. I’m not going to lie, I agonized constantly over my words. I freaking hated almost everything that I wrote – but that didn’t stop me from publishing them on my blog.

And then, one day, I decided that I was going to turn one of those short stories that I actually quite liked into a book.

And that took me weeks and weeks to actually begin. In fact, the only thing that got me to start AND finish was a challenge I discovered through a publishing company. Without it, I can’t say I wouldn’t still be sitting on my laurels. The truth is, however, that I have two books out and I’m working on a third.

So now we’re to the point where you say, “well, gee, that’s great, but what does this have to do with writer’s block and making me a better writer?”

Maybe something. Maybe nothing. The thing is, I deeply wish I’d had a mentor during this time of writer’s struggle. I could have saved myself years of agony if someone had just sat me down and said “you’ve got the ability, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to practice. And here is how to do that.” Writing is like anything else – a sport, learning to cook, learning to dance. Practice makes perfect. Or, if not perfect, better.

I plan to offer advice on here. Advice as a writer, advice as a woman, advice as an almost 30-something that will hopefully show you, man or woman, that you’re not the only one feeling like your writing sucks. I also hope to offer various free exercises for my readers that can help them hone their own writing skills.

The advice and the exercises aren’t professionally backed. You’ll be participating of your own free will because maybe you think this crazy red-head can help you out a little bit. You game?