by | Mar 21, 2022 | Lisa Black, On writing | 6 comments

By Lisa Black

Writing isn't going well

I’m a very even-keeled person. Drama and moodiness are reserved for certain friends and family, not me. If you didn’t know me well, you’d have a hard time telling the difference between when I’m feeling sunny and when I’m feeling like if one more freakin’ person wants to talk to me I’m going to demonstrate why the verb ‘eviscerate’ is something they’d rather not encounter

But the moods are there, simmering below the surface—and desperately dependent on that day’s writing.

Yesterday I penned the scene of a man dropping dead for no apparent reason while surrounded by talented CSIs at a seminar, and this scene flowed very well. I had lots of things for my characters to do and they responded with competence and passion.

I had a spring in my step. I tackled my day job with efficiency and fabulous organization. I answered the phone to have a coworker tell me that, “Wow, you’re not usually so—perky.”

Today, however, I hit one of those spots. I have a bunch of stuff that needs to happen, but I’m not entirely sure what should go next and what should go later on. These transitional sort of scenes leave me dangerously prone to characters wandering about, having not-exactly-exciting conversations and doing nothing of any real importance.

It didn’t help that between answering emails and washing laundry and eating breakfast because good nutrition is very important and besides M&Ms have magnesium in them, suddenly it was well past noon and I hadn’t written a word yet.

The frustrations of writing

So I headed for that daily word count, while simultaneously on speakerphone with the home security company over a simple problem not yet resolved after five calls over two months and another forty-eight minutes today re-explaining the issue to six, count ‘em, six different people, all the while thinking I’m not getting my writing done.


Then I had to do the day’s workout because physical health is very important too and put the laundry away and take out the garbage and pay some bills and I’m not getting my writing done.

A low-level anxiety creeps under my skin and makes my skin itchy and my stomach unsettled even though I gave it M&Ms. My resistance crumbles until long-term fears ooze in and tell me this plot isn’t very good anyway and my protagonist is as dull as gray primer. And on top of that, my writing isn’t getting done.

Talk to me tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m going to kill someone else, with my character lining up the clues that point her to the villain. It will flow and the words will pour easily onto the page. 

I will get my writing done. It will be a good day.

What to do when the writing isn't going well.

What about you? Can your friends and family tell when not to talk to you?

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Karna Small Bodman

    What an incredible schedule you maintain, Lisa — a “Wonder Woman” to be sure (you could have consulted for that old TV show). Thanks for sharing your writing “moods” and routines….I can truly understand (and react to many of the same distractions!). Can’t wait to read your next thriller.

  2. Tracy Clark

    Preach!! Why do we do this to ourselves? Why are writers such gluttons for punishment? Oh, the worry, the self-doubt, the M&Ms!!! Still, we always manage somehow to get the writing done. The ideas always come. Wait. I just got one. Gotta go. Good job, Lisa!!!

  3. Jenny Milchman

    Ha, ha, stomach, wth? I gave you magnesium! [I did not know M&M’s had magnesium]. I hear you. You do seem super even-keeled though. Even if you have to kill someone tomorrow. Good luck!

  4. Mary Monnin

    Good to know M&Ms have magnesium. And if they’re peanut M&Ms, they have protein too.
    I hope your day today is better. It’s got to be, right?

  5. Alex Kava

    THIS…YES! You are so on target, Lisa. No one seems to understand that when a writer is killing someone, it’s best not to interrupt.

  6. Lisa Black

    Full disclosure: Upon checking, M&Ms do NOT have magnesium!

    I was mislead by a female comedian years ago! Her joke was “I am SO glad they started putting nutritional information on labels. That way, when your guy wakes up in the middle of the night and sees you downing a bag of M&Ms, you can say, “Hey, I need the magnesium.”

    Goes to show one should always independently corroborate one’s facts!