Some authors complain about the elusive malady of writer’s block. If you believe you suffer from this illness, prescriptions from educators, book doctors and helpful friends are readily available. Like many disorders, if there is disagreement about its existence, treatment options are variable and may be unreliable.
There are no dark conspiracies like we’ve seen with COVID-19 and hydroxychloroquine is not an antidote. But maybe a stemmed glass of Writer’s Block red wine and relaxation beneath a starry sky would stimulate ideas, generate some antibodies and immunize you.
During decades of practicing ER medicine and documenting serious life crises in patients, I did little writing for fun. My writing was primarily documentation in medical records. I accumulated files of novel and scene ideas, lists of anecdotes, funny conversations and quirks for memorable characters. Retirement allowed more time for me to write for fun but I felt compelled to first write books on medical topics of concern.
ER work revealed a marked lack of basic knowledge in people treated for trauma, illnesses and mental health. ERs treat people with many diseases and injuries that are preventable. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in both men and women in spite of the half million people who have died of COVID-19 over the past year. I decided to first write a handbook on heart health because for years I had wanted to provide patients a book to help them understand disease processes and recover sooner.
Heart disease and other pressing medical topics got in my way of writing novels because serious health problems are prevalent but hidden from view. Predators and Sexually transmitted diseases can kill, too.
Child abuse, incest, domestic abuse, rape, and venereal disease are all too common. I have felt compelled to write about each. In the eleven years since retirement, I have written almost daily, publishing three nonfiction books and four medical thrillers.
I am never at a loss for topics to write about, so I may be immune to Writer’s Block. If a story line slows or I need to develop a subplot or improve a character, I will set a novel aside and start another project, working on it for days if not weeks. However, a note to myself is a reminder to remedy the issue in the parked novel. To do this, I use One Note. The program is easily accessible, pinned to my lower menu bar and I write ideas when they come to me.
Over the years, I have used many methods to glean ideas for books, names, character ideas and locales. Here are a few of my favorites: watch people, listen to dialogue, note unusual mannerisms, capture scenes in your mind’s eye or take up photography, interview experts, read obituaries and tabloids. Read tombstones for names and sometimes learn unique qualities of the deceased.
This month I completed drafts to two more novels:
Undercurrents of Loon Lake is set in 1960 in a resort area in Northern Minnesota and co-authored with my sister Bev. A friend described this murder mystery as Psycho meets Lake Wobegon.
Blood Ties addresses incest: Anna, age 13, finds herself mired in three generations of sexual abuse and incest at the hands of one man. She can’t save her own mother, but she must find a way to rescue her daughter.
I hope to publish both this year and have four more novels in progress.
Thanks for stopping by.
Best wishes for a healthy year of writing.