Breaking Thru Writers Block: “Honey, where’s the kayak?”

August 11, 2011

I spent two weeks at the family cottage up north and was able to break through some serious plot points. KERPOW! I had been struggling with these various knotted, tangled plot nubs for some time, trying to massage and release them, and all of a sudden, they literally unfurled in my hands like rose buds. I got it!

And what was my secret, you ask?

Well, I simply hopped in the kayak, and paddled around the island to the marsh. There I would float, looking at all the water lilies bobbing on the water, listening to the wind in the trees, watching dragonflies land here and there (most of them copulating, one on top of the other) and slapping away the occasional horse fly…

The family cottage is quite remote and on a lake with only a few cottages. In the middle of the week, it’s dead quiet. Quiet enough that you can float in the water, hear nothing but nature, and think nothing but…plot.

The question is…now that I’m back in the big, bad city, how do I recapture that sense of stillness so that I can focus and work through the writing issues I need to work through?

Sure, there’s nature around here. I have a garden. The city has parks. But its just not the same. For one thing, it’s…noisy.

I know I am able to tune the noise out. In the past, I’ve proven myself an excellent mutli-tasker. If you need someone to cook, clean, come up with a character for a scene in 19th century Bath, while simultaneously writing an entry on Facebook & Twitter, reading a library book about a crime in ancient Rome, stopping a fight between a 4 & 6 year old over an old Happy Meal toy that neither really wants and asking the hubby what colour to paint the bathroom…then I’m your woman! I have done it. I CAN do it.

But sometimes I can’t. And locking myself in the bathroom with my laptop while shouting at everyone to BE QUIET just isn’t the way to solve the problem.

If only the kayak would fit in the bathtub…?


  1. I wrote a fairly successful shareware program when I had two and later three small children in the house. That program was actually the difference between being able to buy diapers, and not more than once.

    Concentration is tough. It really is. There are five adults in this house. We have five bedrooms, one being used for a storage area, another for a library/storage area.

    My work area is in the living room, where the television is. During the winter when the Leafs are playing, I get to listen to my three kids who are in there twenties scream at the television. The two boys tend to be loud enough to wake the dead. I’ve gotten to the point where I only notice what they say if a goal is scored.

    But I took a lot of work. I’d make notes before a writing session, then sit and try to write. I started tracking my word count every day, and pushing it. I no longer do that. I know that I run off between 4000 to 5000 words per day, and some days when I’m going crazy I hit 10000 words.

    But it took a lot of practice. Remember the old saying. Practice makes perfect. It’s not true. It should read, “Practice Makes You Better”.



  2. Oh, and if the Kayak did fit in the bath tub, you’d never get the kids out of it, and just THINK of what it would do to your water bill!


  3. Wayne, thanks so much for you comment. I guess I just have to keep building my ‘concentration’ muscle! I thought I had pretty good ‘powers of concentration’, but sometimes it’s tough & I just want to lock myself in a quiet (padded?) room so I can think properly!

    Interestingly, after I wrote this post I wrote for several hours on a pivotal scene amidst the usual family dramas and it worked out okay. Perhaps I just need to get back in the groove!

    Julie J.

    • I don’t know if you play guitar. I keep both mine (6 string electric and electric bass) beside my desk. When I need a break I pick one up, and strum away. I don’t plug in it. I don’t play a song. I just noodle along on the strings, doing nothing in particular.

      It settles my mind, and since they aren’t plugged in, it doesn’t interfere with the TV watchers 🙂

      Can I make a suggestion? Why not post a couple of chapters? Let us take a look, and get some feedback. How many depends on how long they are, I wouldn’t post more than 5000 words in a chunk.


  4. Hi Wayne, I already have some excerpts on this site, thanks for asking! They are listed under #teasertuesday but I have also added ‘novel excerpts’ under categories.

    I have thought about adding more but there’s too many scenes that give the ‘game’ away! But if you’d like to read some of it, its here…and I’m thrilled your interested!

    Julie J.

  5. So funny! I have some of my best ideas come to me right after I’ve cleared my head by paddling around in my kayak. Glad to know another writer who finds inspiration on the water…

    • Yes, it was amazing how well getting out for a paddle worked to focus my attention. I worked thru quite a number of thorny issues with ease. I enjoyed it a lot!

Leave a Reply to busywriting Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: