Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Delicious Phrases

Any writer will tell you that at one point or another, they suffer writer’s block. And any writer will tell you that there are many ways to overcome writer’s block. There are multitudes of books that talk about writer’s block and there are books to enhance your creativity. I should know, I have a few.

The popular advice given by such books are as follows:

-change location
-eat something (well, maybe it doesn’t say to eat something, but it never hurts to look in the cupboard)
-write freehand freeflow for ten minutes
-make sure you write at least ten minutes a day
-read books that are in the same genre as the book you are writing.

But what if that doesn’t work?

When I wrote my first book, Jackson Jones: the Tale of a Boy, an Elf and a Very, Stinky Fish, (yes I had to put in my book’s title – free publicity!) I had to have at least four things that didn’t change.

1) I had to be at Starbucks
2) I had to have a venti, soy, no water, no foam, tazo chai
3) I had to be listening to funky jazz music. Not slow jazz, not old school jazz, but funky acid jazz.
4) I could only write from 9 – 1pm.

I can’t tell you why it worked for me. I can tell you that if any of these variables were not in place, the creative juices were just not flowing.
For my second book (which is coming out this fall – more free publicity!), Jackson Jones: the Tale of a Boy, a Troll and a Rather Large Chicken, all of these factors changed.

1) I had to write at home. At my desk or in bed.
2) I had to be drinking a market spice tea from Teaopia.
3) I had to listen to the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. (Can I mention here I started writing it in April?)
4) I could only write from 10-1pm.
5) I needed a nap immediately afterwards.

Doesn’t make sense, does it? But I think you’ll find that any writer had some …er… eccentricities about them. I’m sure you have your own quirks so you can just stop making fun of me.

But now I’m onto something completely different. I’m not writing a third children’s book. I’m attempting adult fiction. An adult fiction/thriller/romance/literary whatnot. And my old quirks aren’t working. Hm. So now how do I deal with writer’s block?

Sometimes I write in my library, sometimes in bed, sometimes at Starbucks.
I already exercise enough.
I’m not hungry. And I’m tired of crackers and cheese.
Freeflow ain’t workin’.
My reading library at the moment is as follows: Bourne Identity, Chocolat, Little House on the Prairie, Archie Comics and Vanity Fair. I like to mix it up.
So now I’m stuck.

Ah, but then a thought comes to mind.

What about a delicious phrase?

A delicious phrase is exactly what it sounds like. A phrase that just rolls off the tongue and opens your mind to all new possibilities. When you are stuck, describe what is in front of you.

So, for example. At this moment, on my glass tabletop desk is a lamp, a blue candle, a brown candle, four pens, a water bottle, an old tea, the Oxford Dictionnary of Quotations (bought at a garage sale for $1!), pink nailpolish bottle and four swimsuits. And a copy of Vanity Fair opened to Rob Lowe’s interview. So from that, without taking much time to think about it:

Four swimsuits waited patiently to be packed.

See? Isn’t that cool? Ok, another one.

The sour tea resigned itself, its lid crusted with melted sugar mountains.

See? Ok, one more.

The blue candle was obviously more favoured as it was shorter, while the brown one sat with forgotten dust.

See? Fun! Why don’t you try it? Just write down what you see at your desk, at this very moment. I’ll wait.

Fun, isn’t it? Or maybe you just need some exercise and a chai latte.

Oh, one other thing.

Are you praying?

Are you asking God to bless your computer, to bless the words that come out of you, to bless the hands that type? Probably should have put this at the very top, but the whole post is important, isn’t it? Remember that God gave you a gift. And He wants you to use it. Frequently. And honourably. (wait, is that a word? I should probably have the dictionary on my desk as well.)

So … blessings to you and your writing!

Jenn Kelly is the author of the Jackson Jones books. The second one will be out in September 2011. She is currently working on an adult fiction/thriller/romance literary thingy.


  1. For me a walk often helps. But prayer---I rely so heavily on the Lord's creative power to fill me. And sometimes it's just a matter of time. Time I hate that takes too long in my opinion. But I find with steadfast work each day, and time, the prose does become delicious. It cannot be rushed.

  2. Hmm, my favourite spot for creating the first draft is a coffee shop, and I write with a pen. My brain can only create at the speed of hand-writing, computers are too fast.

    Now, what do I see? "A glass bowl, mostly yellow, filled with encouragement. A bouquet of painted flowers adorns the edges."
    I like this trick, Jenn. Consider it filed for future reference.