The power of writer’s block – Cynthia Ellingsen
By Cynthia Ellingsen
Some say writer’s block is a myth. Others claim it’s an excuse. Still others think it’s real. I’d never given it much thought… until it happened to me.♥
I’d just finished my second novel, Marriage Matters, about three generations of women who plan to share a wedding. The book was so much fun to write. When I was finished, I had a hard time letting it go.
The thought of stepping into a new world with new characters and new situations seemed so daunting. Plus, I knew I had to write something “appropriate” for my genre but the typical plotlines seemed played out. My writer’s group told me not to panic, that I had time.
So, I didn’t panic. I read a lot. Watched movies. Reminded myself I had time. But then, weeks turned into months and months into a year. It was official: I had writer’s block.
Imagine my terror when my writer’s group’s annual retreat rolled around. Every year, we spend five days away from real life to hide out in a farm house in the country and write. A painful process, when you have nothing to say.
That first day, I sat staring at the keyboard. Finally, I decided to just do something, anything creative. I put together a slide show with images that spoke to me. At the time, I was obsessed with shipwrecks and buried treasure.
I put those images together and watched them on a loop while playing Midnight by Coldplay. The song and the photos captured a mood and suddenly, I started to write. Random stuff, about a lighthouse and a ship going down. A lost treasure.
For the first time in ages, I was getting somewhere but I knew I couldn’t use it for anything. I mean, I couldn’t base a contemporary women’s fiction story around a shipwreck.
Yep. Those early writings became the backbone of The Lighthouse Keeper: the story of a woman who buys a lighthouse at government auction and while remodeling it, confronts a century-old scandal about her great-grandfather, a ship captain accused of stealing lost silver.
In the future, I plan to listen to writer’s block. The Lighthouse Keeper was the story I was longing to write but hesitated, because it was unconventional. In the end, it was the exact story I was meant to tell.
Cynthia Ellingsen is the author of three novels, The Lighthouse Keeper, Marriage Matters, and The Whole Package.