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Cindy L Freeman – Overcoming Writer’s Block 10/14/20

Let’s be honest. Writer’s block plagues every writer from time to time. For me, it happens when I’m especially busy. I still spend time writing when deadlines or other responsibilities are looming, but I find it harder to be productive–to “enter the zone.”

Here are some practices I’ve found helpful in staying on track with my writing:

  1. If the words just won’t flow, get up and do something physical. I prefer walking, but any type of physical activity can reignite a sluggish brain.
  1. If your thoughts are constantly interrupted by a mental to-do list, make a list of everything that needs to get done that day or that week. Then, set it aside until your allotted writing time is over. The act of listing other tasks seems to free your conscious mind of its nagging until you are ready to tackle them.
  1. Move from your usual writing space. If you usually write at a desk, try taking your laptop to a recliner or sofa and vice versa. Sometimes a change in venue will be enough to spark your creativity. On nice days, try writing outside on the patio or deck. In the days B.C. (Before COVID) I would occasionally spend my writing time at Panera Bread or my favorite coffeehouse. I was shocked at how well I was able to concentrate in these public places. Of course, I always ordered some food or a beverage so as not to take seating from paying customers.
  1. If you are a blocked fiction writer, stop and read a chapter or two of a classic novel. For me, nothing works better to start the creative juices flowing than reading Brontë, Dickens, Tolstoy or Steinbeck. After only a few sentences, I’m feeling inspired by the beauty of language as demonstrated by great literary masters.
  1. Freewrite like you would in a journal, without making corrections, without deep thinking. I admit to finding this practice difficult. As an editor, I tend to want to edit as I go. But I’ve tried writing a first draft without correcting and it does work. You simply write whatever comes to mind without structure. You don’t worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation until later. This process seems to help me get past bludgeoning my brain for the perfect synonym or metaphor. 
  1. If you typically use a word-processing program, try writing long-hand for thirty minutes. Likewise, if you’re used to writing with a pen, try thirty minutes of typing into a computer. This sounds simplistic, but it seems to function like a factory reset for the brain.

If you’ve tried everything and are still blocked, consider Rachael Cayley’s advice. In her March 2018 blog she says: “Most graduate writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their thinking.” Cayley suggests that writing through writer’s block is the best way to conquer it. She recommends changing fonts to indicate that what you write next is for your eyes only and will be deleted from the paper before it is submitted. Then, write exactly what your misgivings are: “I’m worried that what I’m writing here…” followed by “To figure this out, I need to…”[1]

Have you suffered from writer’s block? What do you do to unblock? Please share your suggestions. We’re all in this struggle together.

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: UnrevealedThe Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available through amazon.com or hightidepublications.com  Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.


[1] Rachael Cayley is an associate professor (teaching stream) at the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication, which is part of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey- Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 12, 2020

I have chosen to reprint this blog because of its importance and relevance at a time when black and brown people across America and around the world are marching —  advocating for equality and an end to persecution. May we be reminded on this day, that ALL MEN AND WOMEN ARE CREATED EQUAL AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH.

Today, most people know that the legacy and achievements of the explorer, Christopher Columbus, who the nation once dutifully celebrated, depict a false narrative, honoring a man who initiated the colonization of the peoples indigenous to the Americas. Native people had lived in these lands for thousands of years before European contact.

I wonder if most people realize just how far-reaching the impact of Columbus and his voyages truly were. Within a century of European arrival, entire communities had begun to disappear. Natives were killed. They were enslaved. They died of disease. And they were brutally exploited for their land and belongings.

We cannot go back in time and change the attitudes of colonists and conquerors of a time now far away —  men who thought whatever they “discovered” was theirs to take. But we can act in a way that shows we will no longer celebrate the exploitation of one people by another.

Many cities, counties and universities have begun celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Day, instead of Columbus Day. It is a way of acknowledging the truth about the past, so we can make positive changes in the present. It is honoring the achievements of indigenous peoples whose social, cultural, artistic, musical, scholarly, and literary accomplishments have contributed so much to our country.

It is especially appropriate for Virginians. On October 3, 2018, members of seven Virginia tribes gathered to celebrate being formally recognized by the federal government. They gathered at Werowocomoco, in Gloucester County, on land once occupied by their ancestors. It’s been a long time coming. The Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, Monacan, Nansemond, Rappahannock, and Upper Mattaponi fought for federal recognition for decades. The designation guaranteed the tribes sovereignty to decide their own destiny. It restored to them rights that were stolen generations ago. Rappahannock Chief, Anne Richardson voiced the feelings of tribal members, “This is liberty for us. This is justice for us. We’re finally seeing the promises that are inherent in our constitution that we’ve been left out of all these years.”

Sharon Canfield Dorsey is an award-winning poet and author of a memoir, four children’s books, a travel memoir, and two books of poetry. Watch for a new poetry book, Walk With Me, out in October. Her books are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, High Tide Publications, and the author.

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – Seasons

Wish I had found you in the spring
of my life when we were twenty
somethings–bronzed, fearless,
rushing headlong toward the future.

If I had found you in the summer
of our days, we could have nested
together in a cozy cottage,
raised brilliant, beautiful children.

Fate introduced us in autumn,
 after beginnings and painful endings
with other partners in other places,
lives we each wanted to leave behind.

His and hers children grown, we were
free to wander – climb mountains,
hike island rain forests, return together
to the fearless spring we’d missed.

We had plans for the winter years,
reading to each other by the fire,
spoiling our his and hers grandchildren,
but it was not to be.

If I could rewrite
 just one season of my life,
I would ask that
you not leave me so soon.

(In memory of Don in his birthday month of October)

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning poet and author of four children’s books, a memoir, two books of poetry and a travel memoir. Watch for her new poetry/art book, Walk With Me, to be released in October. All books available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble, High Tide Publications, and the author.

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Cindy L. Freeman – So Little Time 9/22/2020

Had I known I would one day become a writer, I would have done far more reading in my early years. Reading good literature is probably the most important preparation there is for becoming a writer. I wish I had devoured all the classics as I was growing up: Dickens, Brontë, Austen, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck and others. Of course, many of these authors’ works were covered on my required reading for school, but I should have consumed so many more…when I had the time…instead of playing catch-up in my sixties and seventies.

Classic literature, like classic music, has stood the test of time for a reason. By definition, it is recognized to be of the highest rank of excellence. The classics are works of enduring significance that I could have studied all these years, learning at the knees of the great masters.

The ability to express one’s thoughts on paper with accuracy and elegance is a craft which, like any craft, requires study, practice, critique, rewrites, and more practice. In many cases, talent plays a miniscule role in producing a good essay, poem or novel. 

Perhaps the Brontës were inherently gifted as writers, but according to Juliet Barker, author of the biography, The Brontës,[1] their literary upbringing served their talent well. They were voracious readers. On page 169, Barker writes:

“From the books that we know the Brontës possessed, it is possible to deduce something of the education Patrick [Brontë] offered his children.”

Barker goes on to list history, geography and grammar texts. “Each,” she says, “was heavily annotated” by the children and undoubtedly provided inspiration for the people and places they would invent. But, according to Barker’s research, the Brontë household’s collection of books also included second-hand volumes of classic literature by Homer, Horace and Virgil, to name a few–second-hand because books were expensive in the nineteenth century and were considered an extravagance–and other literary treasures:

“…a 1743 edition of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, a 1791 edition of the hymn writer, Isaac Watts’ Doctrine of the Passions and a 1797 edition of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.”

Also displayed prominently in the Brontë home library were numerous volumes of the Bible, plus poetry books, texts from their father’s Cambridge education, and a copy of The Union Dictionary. What I find incredible is that they mastered the art of writing without the benefit of internet research or a readily available Thesaurus. Theirs was a thorough, well-rounded education whose teachers were books.

As a late-blooming author, I am envious of the Brontë sisters who were encouraged to start early and fill their days reading. At my age, I’ve had to adopt the mantra, “So many books; so little time.”

Now, please excuse me while I curl up in my favorite chair and whittle away at my reading list.  

Cindy L. Freeman is the author of three award-winning short stories and three published novels: Unrevealed, The Dark Room and I Want to Go Home. Website: www.cindylfreeman.com; Facebook page: Cindy L Freeman. Her books are available at amazon.com or hightidepublications.com Coming soon: After Rain, Devotions for Comfort and Peace.


[1] Juliet Barker, The Brontës, Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family, Pegasus Books 2010

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Sharon Canfield Dorsey – Remember When…

…people hugged and shook hands without feeling guilty.
…going out to lunch was a treat, not a possible death sentence.
…school and teachers were taken for granted.
…clerks in grocery stores were just a part of the scenery.
…walking into a store did not trigger anxiety.
…toilet paper was just another grocery list item.
…Extra Strength Tylenol was not kept in a locked box.
…going to the movies did not require Clorox spray and wipes.
…we were always promising to clean our cluttered closets.
…presidents and first ladies were role models for our children.
…we could stop to get gas without masking and gloving up.
…meetings were in person, not on Zoom.
…we could love on our grandchildren without fear.
…seniors were not locked up in retirement centers.
…the nice man coming to repair the stove did not strike fear.
…masks were for Halloween, not political statements.
…birthday cards got delivered across town in less than two weeks.
…miles-long lines for free food were non-existent.
…a $1,200 check wasn’t a dire necessity against homelessness.
…200,000+ Americans were still alive, loving and being loved.

Remember last January?

SHARON CANFIELD DORSEY is an award-winning poet and author of four children’s books; a memoir, two books of poetry, and a travel memoir. Her work has also been included in several anthologies. Read about her books on her website, sharoncanfielddorsey.com or her Sharon Canfield Dorsey Author Page on Facebook.