Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 12, 2010

How To Beat Writer’s Block

I think you will enjoy this article by David Caruba – enough said.

Recently, something bad occurred in my work life that spilled over like an over ripe avocado into my writing life.  The result was a first class case of writer’s block.   I couldn’t—and still for the most part can’t—bring myself to write a single fictional word.  It’s not like editors and agents are banging down my door with contracts, but even still…

Writer’s block and I are old friends.  We’ve been known to Foxtrot together on many an occasion.  Sometimes it lasts for days, sometimes for months.  Currently, I’m up to month number two.  And yet, over the years I’ve developed some coping strategies (beyond indulging in criminal amounts of chocolate or overpriced Starbucks coffee!).  Herein, at Kathy Temean’s bequest, I share my secrets:

How to Beat Writer’s Block
By A. Blocked Writer

1.  Ale’s Good for What Ails You

Most doctors will tell you to avoid the bubbly.  The path to depression hell is paved in alcohol, you see.  Down in the dumps?  Try a nice cup of tea.  Can’t write a stitch?  Have milkweiser.  But at all costs, banish the bottle of Burgundy-delight.  Fortunately, for all my writer block-head moments, I’m of the opposite ilk.  I say, when in Rome, have a Roman orgy, oops I mean…When down in the writer’s block doldrums, drink copiously.  Nothing spells mental relief like a margarita.  Make it two, and don’t chinse on the lime.

2. Exercise Is the Ticket

Do a dozen push-ups on your knuckles—what else could be simpler?  Lift 150 pounds freestyle.  Swim like you’re the last survivor of the Titanic.  I’m a big believer in banishing the bulge…and the writer’s blues.  And believe me when I say, nothing unblocks a creative artery like a robust jaunt in 104 degree weather.  I’m feeling better already!  When you finish, you can join my fit and firm critique group at the cardiac intensive care unit.  Our motto:  Write!  Write!  Write!—and Avoid the Light!!!

3.  When All Else Fails, Try Plotting

True story: a friend and fellow children’s book writer suggested I get out of bed, warm up the computer and give it the old college try.  Here’s his secret: give the magnum opus a break.  Instead, work on plotting.  Plot your next vampire story.  Still suffering from writer’s kabash, plot the rest of the 50 book series.  Live a little, make it dystopian.  And if you can throw in a strong lead character (with an eye towards eBooks), all the better.  Here’s what I came up with when trying to shake the blues:

Book One:  Sammy the Snot Goes to School—No, not a June B. Jones knockoff or parody, an anthropomorphic piece of mucus that’s little Jimmy’s best friend.  Sometimes Jimmy eats Sammy, sometimes Sammy eats Jimmy.  Entirely in verse.

Book Two:  Sammy the Snot Vampire Diaries—No, not a vampire novel, but a whole new genre.  Vampire mucus.  Sometimes Sammy sucks Jimmy’s blood, sometimes Jimmy sucks Sammy’s mucus.  Sometimes they both just plain suck.  And sometimes they both go for a jog in 104 degree weather and end up feasting on pathetic writer-wannabes in the cardiatric unit.

Book Three:  Sammy the Snot: Escape from 2035—No, not math class, but a truly unique dystopian vision of the future.  You see, twenty-five years from now, the human race has been reduced to walking, talking, mucus.  And Sammy, bless his soul, has pulled a Pinocchio and become the last boy on earth.  Will he escape and find the last vestiges of humanity?  Will he be devoured whole by a vampire snot (think: cross marketing!!!).  The good news: this plot has been optioned by actor Kurt Russell for a sequel to Escape From New York and Escape From LA

4.  When Plotting Fails—Try Sex

Who needs antidepressants when God created Viagra?  😉

 5.  Go Gay

It’s a known fact.  Gay writers never get writer’s block.

 6.  When All Else Fails, Here’s to Random Hugs

Recently, I was hanging out (read: groveling) in front of the palatial Penguin USA offices down on Hudson Street—you know, the hallowed land of Putnam, Phil O. Mel, Viking, Dial, and so many yummy others.  It’s pure nirvana, even in the most oppressive of times (and believe me, in the middle of the heat wave, in the height of my mighty, might writer’s block, everything about my sweaty, snotty, engorged self [10 Viagras] was oppressive), a hug can go a long way.  Dutton Uber-Editor Steve M. stepped out of the building.  So I hugged him.  “How lovely,” he said (read: “Get the hell away from me you *!#$$#$%*–censured by K. Temean).  Some junior editor from Phil O. Mel headed out to lunch.  So I hugged her.  She let out a joyous squeak, before roller blading away like the E Train.  To a literary agent who’s last name rhymes with Oh Well (or, when he rejects me, Oh Hell), I bequested my Sammy the Snot series and he bequested a hardcover right hook, direct to the jaw.  Who knew the novel Girl Parts could pack such a punch.  Double the Viagra next time!

I’m doing better.  I’m feeling better.  I’m thinking a tryout on American Idol might just be the ticket.  I’m sure they’d welcome a pudgy, balding, middle age children’s book writer (with a big nose).  And what the hell, if all else fails, I’ll write about it.

Great article, David.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am sure others will too.  If you have an article you would like to post on my blog, please send it to me.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Very funny and in good fun but not all that helpful. I definitely can’t break writer’s block with alcohol, though coffee has been known to keep me awake enough to keep typing (even if my prose doesn’t make any sense until it has a good edit).
    PS How come gay writers never get writer’s block?


    • Thanks Zeus,

      You shouldn’t knock the suggestions until you try them. All.


  2. Great David! I think you’ve answered your own problem. Write about an alcoholic gay kid with writer’s block.


    • Mary,

      Thank goodness you understand me! It’s a struggle being a straight, sober block-head.


  3. Aside to Kathy Temean–

    Kathy, savvy sneaking in a plug for more guest blogs:

    Great article, David. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am sure others will too. If you have an article you would like to post on my blog, please send it to me.

    But don’t you think you’re taking advantage of alcoholic gay kids with writer’s block?


  4. David, this was absolutely HILARIOUS! Thanks so much for the laughs 😀 😀 LOL


  5. Wow, I really admire writers who are funny…you are truly gifted! Thanks for sharing, David!
    Kathy R.


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