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Writing road block: Editor's Notes #390
May 03, 2023

…we cannot look at the roadblocks and see the road at the same time.
—Tamron Hall

In this issue:

1. Writing road blocks
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1.Writing road blocks
If you are a writer, you may have already run into some writing road blocks. The writing road blocks here are not the same thing as writers’ block where you are stuck and can’t write. The writing road blocks I’m talking about are outside forces that hold you up. The image I’m going for is a road block the police set up to check for impaired drivers. You are driving along to wherever you have to go, and someone with more power than you have in the situation puts your schedule all out of whack. Your destination and your willingness to get to it have not changed, but your timetable is compromised, and you cannot change that fact.

Writing road blocks take many forms. Here are just a few: illness, yours or that of another; a cancelled interview with an important resource; fires, floods, or earthquakes; unexpected financial set-backs; a new baby in the family; death in the family; eviction; change in your marital status; a change in laws or regulations; theft of the computer that has your only copy of your manuscript; an agent drops you for reasons beyond your control.

Writing road blocks slow down your progress. They do not need to stop you. When I drive, I have road block material with me just in case I have some unexpected down time. That is often a book. It could also be a knitting project. If you accept that writing road blocks may happen, you have time now to think about what you could do if you were stopped in your tracks. Here I suggest two broad categories: working on another aspect of your project and switching to a different project. (There is a third suggestion. Take a break. Get away if you can and want to or have a staycation where you explore your own community. Your work has stopped, so make the most of the chance for down time.)

Work on another aspect of your project. When significantly blocked in reaching someone I needed to interview, I turned my attention to the marketing of my book, even though I was nowhere near finished the writing. The result was a complete overhaul of the physical book to make postage low enough to ensure much higher sales for those who would buy the book as a gift. That market turned out to be about 50% of sales, and it would have been single digits otherwise.

Take the time to investigate newer publishers. Take a course related to your topic. Broaden the scope of your research. Get a critique of the work you have done so far. Expand the worth of your project by considering an accompanying workbook or Web site.

Work on a different writing project. A big writing project can take over our lives. A pause gives us a chance to take on something new. Write poetry, write for magazines or blogs, write letters to the editor. All of these build up a clip file to prove that you can write. The more you publish, even in small venues, the more likely a publisher is to consider taking a second look at your main project. But don’t stop at publishing. Write to reach out to others who could use the contact. Writing with no end goal other than to show someone else you notice them and you care enriches two souls, yours and theirs.

If there is nothing on this list that appeals to you, take time to think of what you would do if you hit a writing road block. Then when the interruption happens, you can stay calm and carry on.

Every time I have faced a writing road block, the pause has improved the project or I have come to understand that I really should be working on something else. Either way, the road block has made the ultimate result better.

2.Tickled my funny bone
I just saw the police arrest a dog that was giving birth at the side of the road. Apparently it was littering.

3. Interesting Web site
Here is a great outline of what is entailed in publishing a book. Is there an area you could explore in more depth?

4. Writing prompt
The word block can be a noun, a verb, or an adjective. Use this versatile word as a springboard to write whatever comes to mind as you consider its many meanings. I would love to see your result.

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