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Knocking down blocks

Yesterday I hit a block. I tried repeatedly to start a scene, and just couldn't make it happen. My people (characters) thought the scene was boring and they wanted nothing to do with it. They were right.

What finally pulled me out of my state of stumped was Shirley Jump‘s Rule of Six. I'm taking her course right now, and I highly recommend it. Basically, making a list of six ideas for a scene forces you to dig deeper than the easy (read: uninspired) ideas that come off the top of your head. You can apply the rule of six to any part of your manuscript (e.g. scene goals, character motivation, book title, you name it).

So, instead of stewing in my head, I finally sat down, made a list of six goals for the scene, and came up with something totally unexpected. The new scene is not only more interesting (my people cheered), but it set up several future scenes where I'll introduce a new character, and begin weaving in background for turning the book into a series.

Such a simple tool, yet so powerful. The key is sitting down to do it.

What tools do you use to overcome writer's block?

P.S. For more of Shirley's wisdom, join her Just Write It group.

The Daily Squirrel: shoes

Jenna slid her foot into the spiky heels and stood up. The world looked different from her new height. She towered over the saleswoman and looked down upon the peons rummaging through the sale racks. In these shoes, she could do anything, be anyone. Her confidence soared.

Chin up, she strode forward with the grace and dignity of a princess, flipped her long hair back, and smiled at a cute guy as she…wobbled on the miniscule heel and landed on her ass between the sneakers and the baby shoes. So much for grace and dignity.

Tell your friends!


  1. Christine


    Another good one is to write down 20 things/ideas and don’t discard any till you vet them.

    Sounds like this course is a good one. I’ll have to put it on my “to be learned file!” So many things to do, so little time…

    Glad you worked past the block.

  2. Martha Warner


    WooHoo! Congrats on climbing that wall! What do I do? I go off to work on something else. Whether it’s another ms or hop up to play with the kiddos, whatever, just so my brain takes a break. Usually while I’m off doing other things the story starts to line itself up again and I know where to go!

    Love the Squirrel… that is so me. lol!

  3. Reply

    Christine: The list of 20 is another good idea. I’ve used that one in biz before. It’s kind of like that Thinking Like Einstein post from a while back.

    Martha: I have good luck taking a break too, sometimes. Running is also a big help for me when I’m stuck. Glad you liked the squirrel. I had fun with that one.

  4. Pingback: Must read for writers « The Edited Life

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