15 March

Story Brainstorm - Sink that Writers Block Boat...


Your mind's eye saw the start of your tale.

You motored along... click-clacking away with wild abandon...

Then, your fingers stopped. You stared at the screen. Your mind went blank. The cursor blinked on, and off, and on, and off, and OH, FOR THE LOVE OF PETE!, and off...

You knew it. The chickens finally came home to roost. You have nothing. You're an imposter. A writer wannabe. Your plot creation brain you thought you had hung a sign on your synapse door, reading, Gone Fishing.


Crikey. Just when stuff was getting good, too. Janey was almost up the hill. She could see the lighthouse in the distance. The black silhouette shape menacing her,  pursuing her, was gaining speed...

Annnnnnd, yep, there it was. Nothing.

  • This is NOT the time to berate yourself. This is NOT the time to berate Janey. She's doing her best with what you've given her, which is zilch. She should jump off the page and hit you with something hard and sharp.
  • This is not the time to swear; although, I won't hold it against you if you do (says me, the drunken cursing sailor).
  • This IS THE TIME to brainstorm. NOT to quit. NOT to bash your tale or your characters or your creativity, or look derisively at your pet who's made a bed in that pile of printer paper, blaming that poor wee fur ball for your mis-tale-deeds.

As I've said before, you can't make it out of a dark forested tale if you don't know your way.


  • Shut down that laptop.
  • Pull out a sheet of paper and your favorite pen.
  • And start brainstorming... scribbling down every insane thought that comes your way, vis-à-vis Janey and that lighthouse, and her menacing pursuer.


  • Do this top-of-mind exercise for at least 30 minutes.
  • List Action - Cause - Effect outcomes for each idea.


  • Idea #1: Janey turns around - picks up a fieldstone - throws it at her pursuer > and misses. Ugh.
  • Idea #2: Janey hides under a bush - waits for the pursuer to run by > they run by, she's in the clear! Oops, the pursuer smells her Chanel No. 5 she sprayed on herself this morning in the hopes she'd bump into Rex at the hardware store > pursuer finds, her, takes that fieldstone, and bashes it over her head. Ugh.
  • Idea #3: Janey stops dead in her tracks, waits for the pursuer to catch up. She sees it's Rex from the hardware store. They run into the lighthouse, hand in hand, and make passionate goo-goo eyes at one another. > Aww.... that's the one!

(Psst: Rex is a lousy kisser, and he doesn't know a Philips from a Robinson. Methinks, this tale isn't going to end well for Janey. ;-) )

What I Need You To Do:

  • Brainstorm with this Action - Cause - Effect exercise into AT LEAST 50% of your book.
  • Yes, no plot point is carved in stone. You can alter at any time. But it will force your brain to CARVE A PATH to safely get your writer self out of that dark forest tale.

The Juicy Benefit: Your fingers will not be able to keep up with those brand-new visuals inside your head. You will be a story-telling master of your new plot world!

Now, the only thing that'll make you curse is the regret you have at not taking that high school typing class more seriously (Okay, that may be just me. I'm the only typing organism I know who mastered the fingering and as soon as I passed the course, returned to my two-finger pounding... sigh...)

HOMEWORK: If this is you today, STOP STARING AT THE SCREEN, shut down the laptop, and start brainstorming. Consider this the exercise you need to find that compass or GPS to get you and your characters through this exciting adventure. 

  • ASSUME you'll discard 80% of those brainstormed ideas, keeping 20. 
  • Write each subsequent plot point down on real or virtual cue cards.
  • Start flipping those cards in the order in which the tale unfolds in the book.
  • Keep doing this until you run out of cards, then repeat the brainstorm process, until you type The End.

Don't make your writer life harder than it already is. KNOW WHERE you're going. 

This is a general carved-out path for you to follow that WILL STILL ALLOW for on-the-spot creativity, but will NOT get you lost in that plot forest or drowning in that leaky Writers Block boat.

Being a writer doesn't assume that by laying fingers on keys the Story Gods will bleed a wondrous tale onto the page for you, simple-dimple. Maybe that's your uber-romantic notion of this career, but that's Hollywood versus reality.

Your New Mantra: YOU NEED TO KNOW WHERE TO GO. Say it with me, now,  three times... la-dee-da! Get up from your chair and do the mantra dance! I'll wait.

Now, with those newly minted plot cards in hand, go and storm your world. 

That leaky Writers Block boat has gone out to sea. Oops, there it goes, stern first, into the drink. Glub, glub, bubble bursts... so sad. (DIE! DIE, I say!)

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