Help with writers block, more


I didn’t say a good nights sleep, just sleep.

12:29 and I had just finished lunch. Sitting at the restaurant table with a friend and my cell phone goes off. The call, a family member has been rushed to hospital again and is in emergency room. The long drive down the freeway to the hospital at a reasonable speed. Ending up with me in the hospital is not going to help anything.

Hours of tests. Days of waiting. Time dragging by waiting for more tests.

The first day I don’t get out of the hospital until 1:00 a.m. the next day. Waiting for tests to be run and when my family member sleeps I try to write. It’s hard, no one knows what’s going on. Tests are coming back that everything is OK. Using pen and paper or computer the words won’t come, the plot has stopped. With the family member sound asleep I head home late that night. Sleep in a little.

The next day is better. Tests still coming in with good results but they still don’t know what’s wrong. The words are coming the plot is moving, but it is still unreasonably cold outside. Well we can’t have everything.

So if you have writer’s block stop drinking coffee and soda and get some sleep. It doesn’t have to be a good sleep or extra sleep just get some sleep.

Side note, you know you have been spending to many days in a hospital with someone when the nurse brings you a tray of food that they serve the patients and the food taste good.


Write on, draw on.     Professor Voltage

Writing advice from a real writer

The other night I tripped over a YouTube video of an interview of JK Rowling.

The video was made in 1998 and she was working on her second Harry Porter book.

It shows her in a coffee shop or tea cafe having a cup of something (it never showed her drinking form the cup) and writing long hand on unlined paper. Of course she has beautiful hand writing. (and yes there are times that I can not read my own hand writing so I type what I write but I do write in a note book and have a note book with me at all times).

Writing long hand is quicker than printing but more importantly it forces you to get your thoughts straight before you put them down.

There was no loud music at the shop. The shop was not crowded during the filming and the conversation in the back ground was not loud. Not like the big-name chain coffee shops around here. Packs with kids or young adults, noise and distractions.

Side note she pronouns her last name as Row-ling not Rowl-ing.

Now get out there and write.


Write on, draw on.   Professor Voltage

Batting less than 100 with books

Just finished reading a book by a famous author that I really like.

It was Meh. They can’t all be winner.

The book was a let down. So I made it a learning experience.

What was right with the book. It was fast paced. I could not tell what was going to happen next. I couldn’t figure out the problem.

What was wrong; I didn’t care for the hero, the end of the story was a let down (not inventive enough), the villain had a killer that was to good.

The hero didn’t care, so why should I. The hero has five days to save the universe and he spends two days just goofing around. He doesn’t try to solve the problem, he’s convinced that fate has predetermined he will save the universe so he doesn’t care and doesn’t try. He doesn’t even try to make saving the universe safer or easier. A big let down after the book started so well.

The end of the story left me cold. Big build up, people in jeopardy, armies ready to attack. Almost a Deus Ex Machina.

The story had a killer that had killed over 2000 people and no one got upset. One of the people he killed was the vice ruler of the world. Why didn’t the rulers of other worlds do something about this killer. Family and friends of the killed did not do something about this killer? This is not a serial killer of prostitutes.

I did finished the book. If a book is not fast paced or interesting I won’t get half way through.


Write on, draw on.     Professor Voltage



Kids breakfast and a changing world

Between writing and serious family obligations I don’t get out much.

The other day I had a doctor’s appointment. A five hour appointment. The instructions said bring a lunch ( a fatty lunch so I got a cookie to go with the sandwich). It’s 8:00 in the morning and I stop at the local Subway sandwich shop. There’s a line out the door of high school kids. Many were eating their sandwiches at the tables in the shop.

What struck me was, less than half of them had backpacks and the backpacks were not heavily loaded with books. They were getting sandwiches not the breakfast specials or flat bread wraps. They were mostly girls and they were not over weight.

The lack of backpacks stood out because schools today don’t have lockers. When I went to school you got issued a locker and hopefully it was an older locker that could hold all your books and your jacket. Even with a locker I had to haul two or three books home each night to do reading in or home work from and I wasn’t the greatest homework doer.

A sandwich for breakfast is better than an “Egg McMuffin” with grease soaked potatoes but as a school kid I ate a lot of cold cereal for breakfast (chocolate coated corn and sugar bombs or multicolored corn and sugar bombs). I also cooked a lot of scrambled eggs for by brothers and sister. I could cook a skillet of scrambled eggs at one time and feed everyone. Everyone wanted fired eggs but that meant cooking an egg or two at a time while everyone complained about how long it took to cook the food. You either got scrambled or cooked them yourself, and only after I was through cooking the scrambled eggs. After one or two times cooking their own eggs they went back to eating scrambled eggs and complaining. Amazing how lazy people are in the morning. Sometimes when things were good we got cheese or peppers or chorizo thrown into the scrambled eggs. Eggs were a couple of pennies each back then and are only fourteen to fifteen cents each today. How can kids afford six to seven dollars for breakfast? That’s almost as much as a cheap breakfast in a sit down place. I can’t afford to buy a Subway sandwich every day.

It was surprising to me that it was mostly girls in the line at Subway shop and they were not massively over weight. I figure the guys and overweight girls were over at the fast food places.

OK, how do I work this into the next story. The story is set in 1880’s so the schools girls are dressed in uniforms. They have rich parents or they would be working in the factories so they can afford to eat in a cafe. It’s a French style cafe so they would be getting coffee and a croissant. Alternately trying to look grown up and talking like little girls.


Write on, draw on.   Professor Voltage

Writers Block, Tips for writing through it Part 5

You’re desperate, nothing helps, everything you’ve tried doesn’t work.

Tip 5

Hit the plot complication button.

Stop trying to be original, stop trying to come up with a new story line. Use the oldest cliche you can think of. Can’t think of an over used cliche just watch ten minutes of TV. Reruns and Mystery Science Theater 3000 are good ones to watch for stale, tired plot complications.

Stop trying so hard and write.

Write using the old standards from daytime soap operas. The evil twin, he’s not really dead, the husband that deserted shows up at her wedding, are great places to start.

Remember the goal is to start writing. The most worn out cliche can be fixed in a rewrite.


Write on, draw on.    Professor Voltage

Writers Block, Tips for writing through it Part 4

Tips 4; use brainstorming.

Shoot the hero. No particular reason other than to get the story moving. If it’s a romance novel make sure the hero’s love interest uses a magnum handgun. We don’t want the hero chasing a wimpy girl.

There are hundreds of ways to brainstorm. Get on the Internet and look some of the methods for brainstorming. It will get you out of your rut.

Brainstorming methods.

1. Focused writing;

Write down the reason for your writers block. Get it out of your system.

Write why the hero is doing nothing.

Write why the hero is running out of time, and write about someone (mentor, sidekick or love interest) telling him he running out of time.

Write why your hero must save the day and why it is more important than the hero realizes. Could be a TV new story about a killer that everyone knew had problems but no one did anything about.

Write about a theme (it doesn’t have to be the theme of the story) or a word phrase. The hero puts on tennis shoes and decides to just do it.

Write about what the hero could do. He could do nothing, something small, something big, or everything.

Write about the unintended consequences of the hero’s past actions. He saves one person but that causes another person to be killed.

2. Brainstorm lists;

List the hero’s actions. Actions that need to be done. What are his day to day actions.

List the villain’s actions. The villain is busy planning, leaving red herring, dropping the kids off at school. What does the villain do on his day off?

List the sidekick actions. Partying, cleaning up after the hero, buying grocery.

List the throwaway characters actions. Time to change the smoke alarm batteries and stumble on the dead bodies.

List the story world actions; flood, fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, 911.

3. Take the long view;

Write about how the story is impacted if the villain wins?

Write about how the story is impacted if the hero wins but how it is still bad for the story world?

4. Brainstorm audience expectation (customer satisfaction);

Write about what the audience expects.

Write about what the audience wants.

Write about how to give the audience what it wants but unexpectedly.


Remember when brainstorming don’t criticize yourself or others.



Write on, draw on.   Professor Voltage.

Writers Block, Tips on writing through it part 3

Tip 3

Bring back a throwaway character.

You had a character who’s sole purpose was to impact some tiny bit of information or do an action. The throwaway character has an endearing trait but would never be seen again in the story. Make the character a reoccurring character. Take another throwaway character and combine the two. Give the throwaway character a job that makes the character able to appear again and again in the story. Think about the guy with the lisp behind the hotel check-in counter in the Eddy Murphy movie.

Make the minor character frustrating because they live in their own world and don’t care about the hero’s world but hold key knowledge that the hero needs. Have the throwaway character only give the knowledge up if asked the right question. The gardener knows that the dead lady was allergic to raspberries because he grows prize winning raspberries and she wouldn’t let him grow them at her place. Or the busybody gossip saw the yoga instructor in Prada high heels at noon time when the instructor only wear tennis shoes and has been seen bare footed in public.

Don’t forget the villain’s sidekick. Write about him doing the villain’s dirty work. Building don’t magically blow themselves up, somebody has to plant the explosives and it takes a lot of explosives to blow up a building. Show the villain’s sidekick planning to shove the villain aside and take over. Better yet have the sidekick plan his escape (he’s smarter than a rabbit and a rabbit always has more than one exit hole out of it’s den). Still better yet show the sidekicks has his own agenda, he’s going to take the explosives that the villain plans to use to blow up the massively polluting power station and use them to blow up the National Security Administration’s satellite data gathering center.

Remember throwaway characters, minor characters are important. Some throwaway characters have spawned their own wildly successful series.


Write on, draw on.   Professor Voltage

Writer’s block, tips on writing through it part 2

Tip two.

Make a list, make a bunch of lists.

On a sheet of paper list ten items in column A of things the hero has to do to win or get to the end of the story. In column B list ten items or things the villain must do to achieve his goal. These can be big goals or little goals. The hero’s goals could be to save the world, get the girl, get a job, get out of debt. The villain’s goal could be to save the world, get the girl, (he’s already got a job), win fame as the savior of the world, even lead a revolution to save the world.

Now take the top item from column A and the bottom item from column B and mash them up. Doesn’t offer a quick fix then try another item from each column. Save your most important items for the end of the story. It may not sound like much but matching a column A item like getting a six pack of beer with a column B item like taking over the world ended up with the hero pouring warm beer into the villain’s doomsday device and the beer shorting the device out thus saving the world.

Make another list of the things the hero needs to save the day. Make a column of things the villain needs. List the items with the least important item on top. Write a scene showing the hero or villain making or getting the item he needs. No cheating by having him drive to the discount mad scientist outlet. Have the hero stand behind the villain in the checkout line at the hardware store where each is buying something they need.

Make a list of places the hero would never go and make him go there and show the problems he has there and why he dislikes being there. Do the same for the villain.

Make a list of things the sidekick could do to help the hero but would instead help the villain.

Make a list of red herrings.


Write on, draw on.    Professor Voltage

Writer’s Block, tips on writing through it part 1

I’ve read over and over again where author’s tell you to write through writer’s block. Not very good advice when you have a bad case of writer’s block. Here’s some tips on how to write yourself out of writer’s block.

Background. I’m in the hospital with a very very sick family member. Yes, I use to many adjectives and adverbs. Twenty four hours in ER. No windows, noisy, don’t know if it’s light or dark outside. The clock on the wall crawls at half speed. The hospital is full and there’s no place to put my sick family member.

My family member finally falls asleep so I pull out the writing pad. Ink pen and real paper. Working on a story will make the time go by faster.

I can’t write. I’m an emotional wreck but I got to write and it will take my mind off my problems. Things are getting better.

Tip one.

Don’t blame yourself for writer’s block, blame your hero, your protagonist. It’s not that you have run out of stuff to write about. It’s that your hero has run out of stuff to do. The story is about your hero doing interesting things so go have him do something. Have him go to the bank then have a holdup take place while he’s there. Now make the bank robbery part of the story or have the villain involved (villains need money and it worked in the Batman movie). Or show the hero’s flaws, he goes into a cheap pizza place to buy a very cheap pizza because he is so cheap he doesn’t want to pay the delivery fee or tip the driver because it’s the driver job to drive. The hero lacks will power and over eats when feeling down and the villain has just defeated him. He’s down because the world is so unjust and hard. It shouldn’t be so hard to defeat the villain. It should be easy just like TV or the movies the plan should just fall into place like the A team. Suddenly in the pizza shop he sees the delivery guy and realizes that this is the drug delivery boy (you want some heroin with the pizza?) and the delivery guy can lead him to the villain.

Better yet switch to the villains perspective or even into his mind. Show that the villain is not some mental case that just does things to be bad. He has plans, has long range plans. He’s been working on and executing these plans for years. Show how he reacts to the hero trying to stop him. If that simpleton can figure the plan out then the police or the government can figure the plan out. Show him shaken up and changing his plans so they are harder to stop. This is the time to show the key weakness to the plan. For example the villain going to blow up railroad bridges that run from coal mines to power stations. He’s trying to stop mankind from generating so much CO2 and causing global warming. A few people getting killed on the railroad train is nothing to the number of people that will die from global warming in the near future. The villain doesn’t think about it being the middle of winter and all the people that will freeze to death without electricity to move the natural gas and oil needed to heat homes. The bridges will take years to replace and he’s using the environmentalist group to oppose rebuilding the bridges (the environmental group is getting ready to stop rebuilding bridges that have yet to be destroyed and that is a way for the hero to find out which bridges are threatened). Then show how he is going to blow up a large number of bridges and how he changes the plan so that which bridge that is going to be blown up can only be detected one hour before it blows. We’ll talk later about how to write yourself out of this box.

Or have the hero show his reluctance to be a hero. It’s so bad that the hero wimps out. He wants to go back home and starts packing. Have his mentor beat the crap out of him for quitting. Or have the people depending on him tell him that he’s the one, the chosen one, and he can’t un-chose himself and the only way he is getting out of this is in a pine box, and the dwarf has a hammer and there are plenty of pine tree on the side of the mountain. (these are the good guys, his buddies).

Remember write it down. Thinking up a way out of writers block will do you no good if you don’t write. Beat writers block by writing.

Tip two coming soon.


Write on, draw on.    Professor Voltage.


Reading slows writing down, but you have to do it.

To get the scene I’m writing correct I had to read a book on Tea. It took effort and time away from the writing. Then for the next page I had to read a book on the British Navy in the eighteen hundreds and torpedoes. I’m losing hours of writing time having to read books just to write a page or two, but those pages will be accurate.

It all makes sense when the title of the book is “There’s a Torpedo in my Teacup”.


Write on, draw on.  Professor Voltage