On Writing

Harper’s Harpings – Overcoming Writer’s Block


I don’t know how to solve your writer’s block but this is how I overcome mine.

In the beginning I only ever concentrated on one book and when I became stuck on a chapter I would glare at my laptop and sulk. Leaving it for days until I started up again.

It didn’t occur to me to jump the chapter and write another one, I thought I had to write in order. That’s my OCD for you, and my lack of experimentation.

The thing is I still can’t jump around, it messes with my head, so if I get stuck I start writing another book or short story. I have different genres which helps, so if I’m not feeling the steamy romantic vibe then I can concentrate on the horror books.

Anyway I digress, I was given an excellent lesson in how to write a short story. I love writing short stories, Olivia Purley, my other author name will only produce short stories. It helps with my writing to feel productive as well as learn to write better.

Here is the exercise, walk around your home and pick up five items at random and place them in front of you. Now make up five stories.  I got one of my house occupants to do it for me and I have in front of me.

A mug; A bottle top; phone charger; pound coin; shopping bag.

Random items now make five stories.

The Mug: Half filled with steaming hot coffee, the person drinking it left in a rush as he had forgotten to pick up his friend at the train station. The friend had invited themselves and she wasn’t welcome. They weren’t welcome because she was in love with him and he didn’t feel the same way. The weekend would be a long one.

A Bottle Top

Beer bottle top, left on the floor of the kitchen, she treads on it in her hung over state and smiles warmly about what it meant. Drunken party the night before, met up with a gorgeous man, kissed all night, would there be a date?

Phone Charger

Chewed to death by the cat, she curses herself because she knows that the cat always chews every cable in the house. Her house mate never pays attention and leaves it out when he borrows it. She’s annoyed that he won’t buy is own and annoyed that she now has to buy a new one. She’ll seek revenge on him.

Pound Coin

A remnant of visit to London all those years ago where she was free and had no shackles. The coin weighs heavy in her hand as she remembers the day she met him. He was rain-soaked leaning over the rail of the bridge and she stopped to talk to him. He was throwing coins into the Thames making wishes.

Shopping Bag

It’s full of fresh vegetables bought from the market, she’s making an anniversary dinner for the husband she can’t stand. She feels like throwing it all in the bin but doesn’t. She’s a dutiful wife and for three more weeks she’ll keep her smile in place.

Five simple items and five potential stories, these could easily make a 4k story once developed. They could spur a stand alone novel. You may never publish them but it gets you writing. In my opinion writer’s block is specific to what you want to write not writing altogether.

It’s what I do, if I need to write a chapter I am stuck on or struggle with one of my short stories.

Thanks for reading.



Harper’s Motto: You will not be everybody’s favourite flavour, but that’s ok, because they will not always be your favourite flavour.   Be who you want to be and you will attract the people who will support you no matter what.


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