Tell Me a Story About

So you’re sitting in a room with a blank piece of paper or a blank screen in front of you. There is a third blank, and it’s your brain. You say to yourself, “I don’t know what to write about.”

Never you fear.

The first thing you do is look up and straight ahead. What do you see?

For me it’s Garfield sitting on top my monitor. When I think of Garfield, I think of Odie and Jon. Jon is Odie’s human. I used to have dogs too. One who comes to mind is Cindy. Garfield loves lasagna. I love lasagna. I’ve cooked lasagna, and I find the dry noodle method gives the noodles better texture than boiling the noodles first. I have a friend who makes awesome eggplant parmesan.

So do you see what I’ve done there? I’ve made a list of only some of the things I associate with Garfield. With this list, I have come up with all kinds of things I could write about:

Cats, dogs, my dogs, Cindy, lasagna, cooking, my friend who makes eggplant parmesan, and so on.

So you see, there is no such thing as “writer’s block.” You are never blocked as long as you look around you. Ideas are everywhere. Just list them, then pick one, or two, or more, and start writing.

I finish the handout for my students. As I’m printing it out, my cat jumps up on the desk. Her name is Marie, and I adopted her from the ASPCA. She looks at screen, reading. She turns to me.

“You’ve written and interesting handout,” she says. “I believe I shall never have writer’s block again. When I first jumped up on the desk, I have to admit that my mind was blank. But now, thanks to your handout, I know I can write something.”

“Thank you, Marie, I’m glad you approve.”

You see, even Marie thinks this is good advice. Do you see how that could get me started on the story about how I have a cat who can read and speak English?

What? You don’t believe me? If you think that’s amazing, then you’re definitely going to like what happens next.

Now Marie begins to type on my computer. She types, “I love to read the comics section of the newspaper every morning. My favorite cartoon, as you might guess from my being a cat, is Garfield.”

So as you can see, this solution for writer’s block can help you as well as your cat.

Okay, the next thing I see, just past Garfield, is my printer. I’m now printing this informational how-to handout on writer’s block. I did a survey, and ten out of ten people and cats surveyed say that they have printer stories to tell.

I could go on. There’s a clock, a painting of windows opening up on a meadow, a Hawaii-English dictionary, a tiffany lamp that was my mom’s, a high-speed scanner, a fan, photos of my goddaughter, me on the Big Island throwing a bottle of gin into Halema‘uma‘u as a gift to Madame Pele, a painting of Ke‘anae on the island of Maui where my family camped in my small-kid time – and all this is just in front of me. Can you imagine if I turn to either side and list everything I see?

Now do you catch how this works? You will never have writer’s block again. Ever. I guarantee it.

Tell me a story about a printer. Tell me a story about computers.

Tell me a story about . . .

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