Writer's Journey bookA lot of writing is sitting with your eyes closed, visualizing what’s going to happen next, who’s going to say what, and how. And while writers can write anywhere (and typically write everywhere) at all times and in all places, there is an art to sitting still and letting the story tell itself.

You can push. You want forward movement and you can certainly make anything happen that you like. Unfortunately, pushed scenes that sound forced and trite, and they’re the first ones you delete upon re-reading. Good stories tell themselves. It’s the writer’s job to listen and let them.

While you’re listening, if truly nothing is happening, you can begin to lob nouns at your characters. Maybe a storm hits, an elephant enters the room, or an angry uncle shows up, or the car was never green but blue… There’s no end to the spaghetti noodles you can toss to see what sticks when the story is ready. When something does take hold, write. Write feverishly, and capture every detail of the scene and how it affects everything else you want to say.

There’s a flow to writing, and you know when you’re in it because you stop looking at your word count and page numbers and instead get swept up in the current, a cartoon character sitting cross-legged on top of a wave, busy fingers clacking on an old and buoyant typewriter and at the end of the day, you suddenly look up and realize you no longer recognize your surroundings. Look around with new eyes, because everything has changed and even you aren’t the same anymore.

Before and between waves, stories nudge and stories whisper while you are anxious to write and feel forward progress. Quiet that anxiety so that you can hear the story around you. You’re not blocked. You never were.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing