Road Trip Wednesday: Bird by Bird

Today is my first Road Trip Wednesday.  Thanks for making a pit stop here!
The question posed at YA Highway: How do you beat writer's block?

I wish I could say that I were immune to such a thing, but I'm not.  How I deal with writer's block has definitely changed over the years as my responsibilities (and children) grow.

Back in the old days, when I was in college and grad school, I would simply put down whatever I was working on and hit the pavement.  My favorite place to walk was the Lakewalk in Duluth, Minnesota.  Who wouldn't be inspired by such loveliness?  I would think about my work, turn over ideas in my head, and listen to Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, Rick Springfield.  Music from the 80s that got my feet and brain moving.

My son Toad at the Lakewalk ~ July 2011

In Mankato during grad school, if I had time I would walk a few blocks down to the Betsy-Tacy bench.  Maud Hart Lovelace's books were the first to inspire me as a young child to write my own stories.  Betsy Ray grew up to be a writer, and I wanted to do the same.  I even lived in "Deep Valley" for a couple of years.  It wasn't as idyllic as it was in Betsy's time, but over the years, the Betsy-Tacy Society has worked hard to preserve Betsy's and Tacy's houses on Hill Street and provide opportunities to experience that feeling, even if just for a couple of hours.

The Betsy-Tacy Bench ~ Mankato, Minnesota

Times have changed.  I'm out of school with a full-time job and two amazing, busy, and (dare I say) demanding children.  Most of my writing is done after the kids go to bed or on the weekends.  I don't have time for writer's block.  I don't have time to take a walk to work out my thoughts and ideas.  I tend to have epiphanies in the shower at 5:30 in the morning. 

What works for me now is to just sit down and start typing.  Take it one bird at a time, as Anne Lamott wrote in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  I take it one scene at a time, one idea at a time.  Most days, the words work themselves out.  Sometimes those words are more amazing than I could have imagined or find a way to fix what's lacking in the manuscript.

Sometimes, when it's ten o'clock and I'm just sitting down at the computer, I'll write for a few minutes and I won't feel it.  It's just not there.  And that's okay.  I've given it my best shot for that night, and tomorrow will be better. I will continue to be struck and stuck by writer's block, of course.  Hazard of the job. 

I'll just keep taking it bird by bird.

Wolf Ridge Chickadees ~ Betsy Bowen


  1. Seems to me that writing can easily fill any amount of time. If you have all day to write, that's when the blocks come because you have plenty of time to be blocked. If you only have half an hour on Wednesday mornings to write, there simply isn't time to be blocked. It's weird how it works like that.

  2. betsy ray is the reason i started writing, too. i'm so jealous that you got to live in "deep valley." i can imagine that just sitting on that bench can help alleviate writers block...especially if you have some of mrs. kelly's delicious unfrosted cake with you!

  3. Lovely pictures. Doesn't nature seem to help tremendously with writers block?

  4. Great choices. I keep meaning to plan a road trip to Mankato to see all where the Betsy Tacy books were written. Love the view of writers block at the end of this post.

  5. Oooh - I want to walk in those places!

    Yes, my strategies to tackling writer block changes, but I find getting away and exercising work best for me.


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