Sunday, March 22, 2009

Writer's Block is a Crock

Our good friend Nick Russell is a newspaper man. Before he and Miss Terry retired ten years ago, he had owned and published several small town newspapers. Today he owns and runs the world’s only nationwide RV publication produced and distributed entirely on the road.

Nick also puts out three or four daily blogs ( ), writes books, teaches at seminars and runs two RV rallies each year.

People sometimes ask Nick how he can find something to write about every day, when they get writer’s block every time they try to write. His response is that writer’s block is a copout. Professional writers write for a living. A newspaper can’t go out with eight empty pages because the editor can’t think of anything to write about. You just sit down and write.

While I was casting about for something to write about, I thought about writer’s block, and look here, I’ve already got four paragraphs!

I find writing an intellectual challenge (sometimes just talking coherently can be a challenge!). Every morning while I am checking our email and reading others’ blogs (this can take up to an hour or more daily), Suzy has her own intellectual challenge to work on, and it involves words as well. She is into Jumble puzzles. She subscribes to a bi-monthly Jumble puzzle book, and she haunts the bookstores for new collections. Today she is on Jumble #108 out of 511 puzzles in the second big book.

If you aren’t familiar with Jumbles, they are word puzzles in which the letters of from four to six English words are, frankly, jumbled. For example, the puzzle FEBRYL is solved with BELFRY. Easy, right? Not always. Try these: SILAMY. Or YAHNE.

Once she solves these words, each word has one or more letters circled, and the puzzle asks her to come up with another Jumble using those letters, which are in no particular order. As a clue, there is a cartoon drawing of some action or event, and a statement leading to a solution.

Example, two men are arguing in front of a mechanic’s garage, with a third man trying to calm them down. The clue is “Can help to avoid friction.” The letters to rearrange are ROUCINIBTAL. Suzy struggled with that one for a long time before finding the answer: LUBRICATION. Often, the “surprise answer” they are looking for is a play on words or a clever turn of phrase you wouldn’t expect.

Sometimes she is absolutely stumped, and asks me for help. Often I’m just as stumped, but occasionally I get it right away. The letters ITSHGTAR had a cartoon of four card sharks playing poker and a clue “You wouldn’t expect this to be a crooked poker hand, would you?” Did you get the answer? It’s a “STRAIGHT.”

Suzy says the Jumble uses "real words," unlike some crossword puzzles that make up words that will fit the spaces and letters that are available. I have to agree. The other day I had to enter a four-letter word meaning "levy." Turns out the correct answser was "SESS." Did you ever hear of "sess?" Our dictionery denied "sess" and one or two other words from that puzzle.

Writer’s block? There’s always something going on to write about. Oh, by the way, SILAMY becomes MISLAY, and YAHNE is HYENA.

If you need an intellectual challenge, keep reading our blog. Maybe you’ll find a PYOT or TYPO to tell me about as we follow … Our Life on Wheels.


  1. No comments yet?

    Neil Diamond sings: Is anybody out there? Can anybody hear me?

    All you lurkers, leave us a message so we know you are still alive!

  2. Sorry Jerry, didn't get a chance to read your post any earlier -- we've been on the run all day and yesterday (our travel day) was ... well don't get me started! Rain, thunderstorms and lightning big time here near Dallas and on US 180 coming in from the west.

    Great blog, I couldn't agree more that if you are really a writer, there is never a lack of words! I never have any problems.

    We envy you your good weather~~we hope the worst is over here.

    Joy and Phil

  3. See, I knew you'd come up with something to write about!

    My problem is never what to write about,it's finding time to get it all done. But I've learned to set priorities, and sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

    In my case, I have given up dieting and exercise.

  4. Yep Jerry we're still here. As you know I believe in a schedule. People need to know when your going to publish. That way they don't have to keep checking time after time just to find you haven't published.
    I find it hard to keep them short. The king of Blog's, Tioga George, says to keep them short and sweet, so not to bore people. Nick does a fine job of it.

    All good advice, but not always easy to follow. I enjoy your blog.
    Hang in there



Here's your chance to tell us what you think!