Block, Novel, Writing

Sometimes You Already Have the Answer

I wrote some strong, honest words this week. I had a burst of writing on one of my WIPs—it’s the one you see in the sidebar, temporarily titled FISH. I started off writing it at a good pace (for me), but that came to a stop last November at about 14,000 words.

bluechairsI hung up my writer’s hat for the month of December. In January, I went back to work and wrote steadily, but stopped again at 26,000 words because I came to a bridge scene and couldn’t decide how to cross it.

Since I try to write something every day, I switched to working on my other WIP (working title TEA.) After I’d gotten 10,000 words into that one, I distracted myself with trying out Scrivener by setting it up to work on TEA.  As you know from my last post, that was a good experience.

But I wasn’t writing.

I set up all my folders and text files, and even found celebrity photos to attach to my character cards for TEA. Then I decided to set up another Scrivener project for FISH. And, of course, I had to find photos to represent my FISH characters too. And I researched 1970s home interiors, bathing suit styles, and marijuana laws because FISH is set in 1974.

But I wasn’t writing.

I wasn’t “blocked” from working on TEA. I just felt strongly that I needed to return to writing FISH, partly because I’ve lived with it longer, I’m comfortable with it, and partly because it’s another women’s fiction novel, while TEA is more an experiment. But I still hadn’t worked out that particular scene.

I felt guilty about not writing. So I tried to read because that usually sparks my writing (which is why it usually takes me forever to get through a book), but I couldn’t concentrate on reading. I went to sleep every night trying to figure out how best to move into the next section of FISH.

Now we all know a writer writes … right? So I decided that until I figured out the solution to that sticky scene, what I needed to do was open that project’s Scenes-to-Write folder and work on a scene I’d written the bare bones of previously. That was a success, and it led to reworking a few too-short scenes, raising my word count by a couple thousand.

Then I opened and read another skeleton scene—just dialogue with a few “stage directions”—started months ago. I expanded the dialogue and turned those directions into narrative. Four hundred words grew to thirteen hundred and counting. And then it hit me: if I changed the setting, this scene would be the perfect bridge!

I’m continually amazed at the Muse—and by that I mean a writer’s mind. In the background or in this case, in advance, it’s always working. Sometimes the answer we’re looking for is already there. We just need to get out of our own way to find it. BICHOK*


*For those who don’t know, this stands for Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.

12 thoughts on “Sometimes You Already Have the Answer”

  1. Some would say that as soon as a problem poses itself the answer is simultaneously created. Of course the answer could be a way to circumvent the problem. In this way of thinking, you are not creating the solution just discovering it. It can get a little maddening when you know the answer is right there in front of you, but you cannot see it!


  2. Hi Linda. Your name is in my list of acknowledgments for helping me with a one-liner for my book Buddy for David. I appreciate your taking time to do that. I see that you are on your second published book and writing more. Congrats. Blessings to you…


  3. Activity creates activity which in turn stimulates creativity. You may not have been writing but you we being active and look at the amazing results. I love how that works! I am working hard on book 4 of the Amanda travel adventure stories. When I hit a road block, I get busy doing other stuff and whamo, an idea hits me.


      1. I know what you mean, cookies burnt, meals only half prepared, closets pulled apart but not put back together, the list goes on. The eggs exploding after boiling dry in the pot is the funniest one. Good thing my hubby has a sense of humour.


  4. I like this! I find that I almost always already know the answer and it’s just a matter of letting my instincts take me there. Sometimes I can be incredibly stubborn and forget all of that. The past two years, however, I haven’t suffered from writer’s block at all. I think I’m finally getting stubborn enough to just push the dang wall down or write around it. 🙂 knock on wood that I don’t get stuck soon hah!


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