Monday, August 13, 2018

Stuck...It's not such a bad thing

Shipwreck Buser
Shipwreck Buser

Shipwrecked, stranded, and especially the word STUCK comes to mind with this image. Ever feel that way when everything you are trying to do in your writing feels frozen? 

IF you're like me you have to set everything aside and focus on something new to get moving again. I've been cleaning house, tossing out old papers in my office, cleaning elsewhere in the home, thinking about painting, and window coverings....baking sourdough breads (my go-to source of comfort lately), but mostly throwing stuff away. 

One example, and boy did it ever feel good, was to throw out a file drawer full of research on a nonfiction book I almost did for an educational publisher years back. I kept thinking this would be great for historical fiction. Most came from hours of copying at a university library.....Why? Because the network was still questionable back then when it came to research. Yet all that work, I kept reasoning.....surely it could be used elsewhere. So I had a serious talk with myself. IF I were to seriously do historical fiction, wouldn't I use online resources after all? Wouldn't I? So into the garbage it all went....volumes worth. And how did I feel afterwards? A sense of freedom.

Now that I'm clearing the plate so to speak, I am beginning to see my office and goals more clearly. This is not to say I'm now unstuck, however. As I'm kneading the dough for sourdough pitas, and letting another batch of dough rise for sourdough crackers, I'm toughening up to start writing again. It's time for the explorer in me to investigate this hunk of junk before me.  

To be honest, that's how my current manuscript feels at the moment. My Na-No experiment awhile back left me with a story that began twisting and turning in strange ways. Was it the creative juices taking over or do I really need to start again? I'm hoping there are treasures to find nonetheless as I investigate. Time to explore! If I come up short, I'll bake more sourdough. 

"Sourdough Pita Bread"

2 cups flour (my favorite combo: 1c whole wheat and 1c spelt)
1 T. sugar
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/2 cup sourdough starter (freshly fed)
1 T. olive oil
3/4 -1 cup water (room temperature)

Mix flour, sugar and salt together. Make well in center and add oil and starter. As you mix, add water 2-3 T. water at a time as needed to make a workable dough. Knead until soft and elastic. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise to about double. Punch down. Shape into 8 lemon-size balls (thickness of two tortillas). Cover with damp cloth and let rest for 5 min. Meanwhile, heat up a griddle or skillet to medium heat. Roll dough balls into 6 inch circles and fry in light oil. When the dough puffs up you can flip over for a few seconds to lightly brown. Enjoy!


Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing


  1. Sometimes, cleaning house is the best thing as well as doing something completely different sometimes gives us the right impetus towards our real goals. You will succeed as long as you are not too hard on yourself and just take in what the IWSG says to everyone. I will often close a door because it feels overwhelming and I can do that again and again and then something just...snaps...and I attack the room and get it done. Now, that rusty boat actually intrigues me, i wonder what it looked like when it was new. What kind of boat is it? What ghosts are on board? If one found out that Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Myrna Loy partied on this boat, this boat would ta’e on a whole new meaning.

    1. You know, this is so true. In addition to cleaning house, I've been re-doing my office space and have created a cool writing cave. It's still ongoing and I have clutter all over the dining room right now waiting to be put away, but I think some of this will stay out of the office, and some tossed. Functionality of our things, although important in the past, changes. I discovered lost items too like the 'handwritten' letter I had wanted to answer the old-fashion way. Until you clear the clutter you can't see what's important. One visual change I made was to face my desk to the window so I could have a view outside when I typed. A previous office had been set up this and I realized I had done my most writing then. Previous view here was of a wall of maps. I actually want to sit here now, but time will tell. Thanks so much for your comment, Birgit! Had also thought of posting with IWSG, but missed the deadline. They are an amazing group. And point taken on not being too hard on myself. It's easy to do. I hadn't thought of the boat as a celebrity party boat. Gives new meaning to the photo for sure :).

  2. It always seems like doing physical things, like organizing, is a good way to get un-stuck. It's an external clearing of space, and possibly a metaphor for an inner, mental space clearing.

    I haven't been writing, but I do know that I will return to it, absolutely. In my case, it wasn't a feeling of being stuck, but more that I had two competing desires. I want to scrapbook my entire life, which takes time. I also want to write. When I do one, there isn't time for the other. Recently, I decided the scrapbooking is a higher priority, so I am now determined to finish those 25 years' worth that are waiting to be done, before returning to the writing.

    Barring unforeseen events, and given my usual time constraints, I could be done in 4-6 months.
    But then it will clear an enormous amount of mental space to truly and forever focus on the writing.

    I'm also big into gardening, but I've found that it takes no more than 10 minutes each day. It's not much of a time-consumer, and it's seasonal, to boot.

    I hope you get un-stuck soon!

    1. True, oh so true. Clearing and organizing the physical external space also clears the internal mental space. There is no better therapy than that, and I urge anyone reading this discussion to do the same. It really is freeing. Thanks so much for your comments, Cathy! I know you will return to writing when the time is right. 4-6 months sounds like a reasonable goal. I love your scrap booking project and have thought of doing some myself, but only two or three albums. In my cleanup I re-discovered a file of items saved from my children's growing up phase, and thought of how beautiful your scrap books are. I'm inspired at least. We'll see if I follow through :) Gardening, as you well know, is big on my plate too, but with all this hot weather and SMOKE, it might as well be a blizzard outside!

  3. Know what you mean about how freeing it can be to throw things away. I got rid of a bunch of old notes last year and haven't regretted it. Glad to hear tossing all that research has helped clear your head!

    And best of luck with your current manuscript! Hope you do end up unearthing treasures once you start digging through it...

    1. You know, I hung onto to that research file far too long, but I reached a point where common sense took over. Part of this came from the recent move of my mother into a studio apartment at the retirement home. I helped her sort through decades worth of minutia that should have been tossed away ages ago. I saw how freeing it was after the process was over. I continue to help her keep the clutter down (you know, it easily comes back) but thankfully, she appreciates the help. I'm more optimistic too that I can see through my own clutter in unearthing those treasures. Have my fingers crossed. Best of luck to you too, Heather. Thanks for commenting!


"Stay" is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary
(A.B. Alcott). Stay and visit awhile. Your comments mean a lot to me.

About Me

My photo
You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.