Why you aren’t writing – Reason #3

This week I’m writing about how to sort out the endless ideas you have knocking around in your brain. I always liken this condition to a jar full of angry bumble bees. The best thing to do for the poor things is remove the lid and set them free. Same is true for your story ideas.

The first order of business is to get it all outside yourself. You have to.

image from honeybeehaven.com

image from honeybeehaven.com

Follow these steps, and you’ll be on your way to cranking out stories the world is waiting to read.

  • Get a new notebook (don’t try slogging through the mess of notes you already have)
  • Devote one page to each snippet in your brain: Do you have the physical form of a character? Write only that down at the top of the page and move on to the next page. A name? Same idea. Write it at the top of the next page and move on. Are you hearing dialogue, sound, a voice? An image that won’t leave you alone? Do you have a storyline brewing? A motivation? An obstacle? Allow each piece of information to take up space on the page.
  • Begin to expand on each snippet, one-by-one. This may be hard if you’re a person who has way too many ideas, but each snippet is a nugget for a full-blown story. Give each one ample time and learn to be okay with setting the others aside for now, knowing that you’ll eventually get to each one.
  • If you just can’t possible set all the others aside, set a timer and devote a specified amount of time – say, 15-60 mins. – to each page on your writing day(s).

Sounds too simple, I know. But it will work. Promise.

Please leave your nuggets in the comments below.

Why you aren’t writing – Reason #2

image credit: deviantart.com

image credit: deviantart.com

This week I’m writing about how to write even when you don’t know how or where to begin.

While this may feel forced and artificial at first, it can get you well on your way to getting a story on the page.

Think of this as priming the pump in three steps:

  • Get clear about the story essentials you need to create a workable framework.
  • Plug in the info.
  • Write.

So, what are the story essentials?

1. Imagine a protagonist/main character (think about gender, age, physical appearance and trust that the rest will come). Don’t spend a ton of time on this. Just jot down what comes to mind. The process actually works better that way.
2. Put the character in a space.
3. Give the character a desire.
4. Give the character a reason for the desire.
5. Imagine an antagonist (the person or thing that will interfere with the protagonist’s main desire).
6. Let the antagonist interfere with the first character’s desire.
7. What desire is behind the second character’s actions?
8. Why does the second character have this desire?
9. Make the two characters talk to each other.
10. Fill out the scene(s) by evoking the five senses.

Don’t think it to death.
Just jot down what comes to you quickly.
Trust your intuition.
Make it easy.
Keep writing…

Here’s an example

43-year-old woman with long, wild red hair in a car
Driving across the country to meet her birth mother for the first time

22-year-old guy
On his way to meet his girlfriend at an abortion clinic, rear-ends the protagonist’s car

What happens next…?

IMPORTANT: It doesn’t have to be good at this stage. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll come back and refine it on the rewrite. That’s what everyone does. Even the best writers.

And that’s how you begin.

Do this over and over and over. Before you know it, you’ll have several beginnings you can build on.

Trust me.

Who are your protagonist and your antagonist?


How understanding the Root Chakra can help your writing

The Writing Through the Body™ process is both generative and corrective. It’s generative in that it can help you build a character or a story from nothing, and it’s corrective in that it can move you forward if you’re stuck. Here’s how.

Oftentimes with writing we’re faced with a chicken-or-egg scenario. Maybe we want to write but we’re coming up blank. Or maybe we’ve started a story but it just isn’t going anywhere.


To clear that block and generate story, we can simply begin by imagining a character (think simply at first: gender and age – woman, 35 years old).

"Migrant Mother"  by Dorothea Lange

“Migrant Mother”
by Dorothea Lange

Then, give her a Root Chakra (located in the area just in front of the tailbone) problem: survival fears or fear of abandonment. This can take the form of her literally not having enough money to buy food and shelter for herself and her kids. It can be an irrational fear of not being able to provide even if she does have the resources. Or it can be her fear of her husband leaving her, which makes her suspicious and on edge. The fear doesn’t have to be founded on any evidence. It just has to be present.

Next, pick a setting, the writing element I pair with the Root Chakra, because setting plays significantly into the shaping of our identities. (Think of your childhood home.) If we put her in her kitchen (a logical space for someone struggling with survival fears… food, sustenance, or lack thereof) and get her to move around, we’ll bring her to life. What’s she making for dinner? Can she make dinner? What are her kids doing in the background?


image credit: lightworkers.org

image credit: lightworkers.org

On the other hand, if we’re already well into a story and we have a character who is already struggling with basic survival needs (sometimes these things just come to us organically), we can consult the chakras and know that she’s struggling with a Root Chakra problem.

The Root Chakra governs our Tribal Power. Generally, we think of this as our family of origin. So when our character is struggling to put food on the table at home (or fearing that she won’t be able to) or fearing she’s going to be left, we can begin to look back into her family constellation and dynamics (her back story) to understand her relationship with money, “having enough,” or “being enough.” We can then begin to know why she has this fear and let that information inform the story. We might even try bringing a family member into the story to see how it helps character development and storyline unfold.

We don’t always have to tell our readers every detail about our characters’ back stories, but we, as the writer, have to know them.

Who’s your character and what’s your setting?