Connecting Readers with Finger Lakes Authors

When you just can’t get words down…

It’s a dreary day. I’m off work on a vacation day. Before I fell asleep last night, my last thought was, I’m going to start Chapter 5 tomorrow.

And then I woke up this morning, put out Jim’s birthday cards and gifts, fed my horses, ate breakfast, did today’s Wordle, sent the agenda for tomorrow’s FLARE executive committee meeting, hung out the feeders for the Baltimore orioles, hummingbirds, and gold finch because I read on Facebook that they’re all back here in our area now, (which means I wasted a little time on FB), took care of a couple of emails to students in my creative writing class at Keuka College, and updated the FLARE website with the upcoming events.

And, now it’s 12:30 p.m. and instead of working on Chapter 5, what am I doing? Why writing this post, of course! I’m hoping this will lead me into working on Chapter 5. I’ll turn off Facebook, click out of my email, hit publish on this, then get to work.

It’s not that I don’t love writing, because I do. I spend a lot of time thinking about it. It’s that I make the mistake of not being intentional about blocking everything else out so I can concentrate. Here are the honest-to-God proven steps for me to getting words on the page (hold onto your hats…I’m sure the anticipation is killing you!)

I need to sit down in front of the computer and start typing! (Shocking revelation!)

Here are the other prerequisite steps I’m going to take right now because over the years I’ve actually trained my muse to respond to these cues that it’s time to write:

  1. Light a Yankee Candle Blueberry scented candle (don’t ask me why it HAS to be this scent, but it does, and it works. Again, I think it’s that I’ve brainwashed my muse.)
  2. Put on Chopin’s Nocturnes. Yup…I’ve also trained my muse to respond to that music. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics. My muse loves Chopin…she’s kind of snooty, isn’t she?
  3. For this writing session, because I know I’m starting Chapter 5, I’ll set up that page in a file so it’s ready and doesn’t distract me after the next step.
  4. I’ll open up the last part of Chapter 4 that I wrote and re-read it. I’ll also edit and revise it at the same time because it gets my head into the story. (I’m not good at just going into a new chapter cold.)
  5. Because I know me, I’ll probably agonize over the opening line because my dear friend and writing mentor, Mary Buckham, will be rattling around in my head insisting that the first line(s) better be a good hook to snag the reader’s attention. (I can think of worse people to have in my head!)
  6. And, BOOM! I’ll be off and writing. I’m thinking this might be the first line:

When Kaylyn came out the front door to head to school, backpack slung over her shoulder, the last thing she expected to trip over was two worn bike tires that laid against the bottom steps of the porch. No bike in sight, just two worn tires.

Is it great? Not at the moment, but what it did do was get me past that blank page that seems to always trip up writers. I can always go back to revise, but at least now I’m ready to get this chapter going. My advice to you? BICFOK (That’s not a swear word, by the way!)

Basically, you’ve probably heard other versions. If you want to get any writing done, the essential steps are:

Butt In Chair Fingers On Keyboard

We writers need more BICFOK in our lives.

Laurie Gifford Adams is the author of seven novels (not all shown here), multiple feature stories in magazines, and in her past life, numerous news articles for weekly newspapers. Visit her website at