Beyond Writer’s Block

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by Preston Shires

A lot of people talk about writer’s block. To be honest, and I say this whispering, I really don’t know what they’re talking about. However, I do know that in order to write, one must have the perfect atmosphere, and you must stay in place to take advantage of it. So, I think I’ll write about that.

And the first thing to mention, of course, is the cat. Every writer must needs have one. My wife procured the ideal writing kitten. For whatever reason, its hind legs are inert, and it just sits on the chair beside us and purrs. Purring, of course, is the key. It relaxes the writer as well as the cat.

Next, and I know you could see this coming, you’ll need a dog…preferably one who gets along well with a kitty that’s stuck on a chair. I place my dog under my desk, just in front of my chair. The advantage here is, that if you begin to relax into a slumber at your desk, the dog will invariably lick your toes. Now this means that you have to write barefoot, but I believe that’s a given. Two dogs, naturally, are preferable. I place a second dog behind my chair.

The chair, then, should be of the rolling type. I possess this kind of chair and it works perfectly with dog number two. His name, by the way, is Jeeves. Jeeves’s job is to prevent me from leaving my desk. He understands that if I leave my desk, I will go into the kitchen and make tea.

Tea is the great procrastinator, the archenemy of any writer. A good tea to use, and again I say this in a whisper, is English Breakfast. It always makes you feel, as you partake, as if you’re just starting the day and haven’t lost a minute’s time, even if it’s four p.m. Naturally, you’ll want to add lemon. Squeeze it by hand. If you use a juicer, all the seeds will be held back and you won’t get to spend five minutes fishing them out of the bottom of your cup before the dégustade. I’m not sure dégustade is a word, even in French, but that’s what I mean, but don’t déguste (taste) before adding the sugar. I may not care for sugar, but putting it in does add seventeen seconds to the procrastination clock, stirring will add another four.

Anyway, this brings us back to Jeeves. He needs to lean up against the rollers of your chair right after you sit down to write. Thus positioned, if you ever try to roll back to get up, he will let out a yelp. The yelp will alert your wife that you’re attempting to make tea.

Yes, you’ll need one of those too in order to keep you in place. Preferably she’s also your beta reader. I chose one with a PhD in English so she can do editing as well. Strange thing is, she’s originally French, but this comes in handy when you throw in a French word like dégustade that the French Academy hasn’t got around to recognizing just yet. In any case, as your beta reader, she’ll want you to finish whatever you’re writing so she can critique it. (Here’s where the French part really comes in to play…the French love to critique).

So, here I am, seated at my desk, a kitty purring in the background, a dog blocking my escape, another licking my toes, and I’m ready to write. Trouble is, I can’t think of anything to put down on paper.

“The first rule in writing humor, of course, is that you must be willing to exaggerate.” @pdshires #ACFWBlogs #writing #writetips Click To Tweet

Preston Shires teaches history at a community college in Nebraska. He and his wife live in the country, where he writes historical fiction and farms. He’s currently writing the Nebraska Mystery Series and has just finished book two: Saved by the Bullet, a follow-up to Life in a Casket. Visit Preston at



Comments 2

  1. I’ve never suffered writers’ block
    as at my desk I perch.
    But now, ten minutes, by the clock;
    it’s time for some research.
    There’s so much on the Internet
    to inspire writing dreams,
    so first thing, now, I will get
    a selection of good memes.
    Main characters need their bosom buddies;
    you can’t argue with that.
    So next I’ll do some Youtube studies
    to find the perfect dog or cat.
    Wow, the time, it’s off to bed
    with investigations streets ahead.

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