Writer’s block. Every writer has dealt with it at some point (Stephen King claims he hasn’t but I’m calling bull), and it can be a huge deterrent when it comes to expressing yourself and getting your stories out. I will touch on some of the main issues that cause writer’s block, but the focus of this article is to explain how to push past the block and to go over the strategies I’ve personally found to be beneficial to me.
“MAMA!” Noah cried out as he woke from the scariest dream ever. Nobody replied so he kicked his Ironman blanket off and jumped out of bed. He hurried to the door and then down the hall to Mama and Daddy’s room. He tried the handle but it wouldn’t turn.
“Mama I had a scary dream!” Noah said as he knocked on the wooden door. “Mama! Mama!”
He tried the handle again the other way and this time it worked. He pushed the door open and his eyes were drawn to the TV. He paused in the doorway and watched as people talked and some ran around. One looked like they had red paint on them and it reminded him he was scared. Noah padded to Mama’s side of the bed.
“Mama.” He whimpered as he climbed into the bed. Mama didn’t move, but as he settled in the middle he realized the bed felt wet. He moved around a little before poking at the blanket that was over her.
“Mama the bed it wet.” He said, but she didn’t wake up. He pushed his hand into her long, dark hair, and felt himself calm a little bit. He turned to find Daddy gone.
“Daddy?” Noah called out, but the TV drew his attention again. Now there were people fighting on it. A whole bunch of them! Lots more red paint. It made him think of his dream again.
“Mama I had a dream you were driving and then you turned around and your eyes were white and you were a scary witch zombie!” He said in a rush. Mama didn’t respond. He was about to get under the blanket with her when the shadows by the closet moved. He jumped and looked closer.
The shadow made a growling noise like a lion sleeping. It scared him. “D-daddy? I’m scared.” Noah tightened his hold on Mama’s hair, but she still didn’t wake up as the shadow approached the bed. Noah stared wide-eyed at Daddy, and all the red paint on his face and chest, as he stood beside the bed and looked down at Noah The sleeping lion noise sounded again, this time definitely from Daddy, and Noah closed his eyes. It IS a dream. It is a-
“MAMA MAMA!” Connor cried out before yanking his Paw patrol blanket over his head. He huddled on his bed, too scared to run down the hall. The room felt cold to him, just like the last few nights. He hid under the blanket and waited.
The door opened moments later and the cold disappeared instantly. He stayed under the blanket though, not seeing meant nothing scary. A hand nudged his back before patting its way to his head.
“You shouldn’t cover your face, Connor.” Mama’s said softly as she tugged the blanket away. “It isn’t safe.”
He turned around and threw himself into her arms. “It wasn’t a dream!” He cried as he clung to her.
“Tell me about it. What happened?” She asked as she laid them both down. She positioned the blanket over him as he clutched her night shirt in a small fist.
“Spooky. I saw a monster wif long arms, long legs, a long mouth, and really long spiky hair. And it didn’t wear clothes! It looks kinda brownish. It had long fingers and red eyes too!” He gushed, wishing she had been there. He glanced at the closet near his bedroom door where it had been standing, and she looked too.
“Connor it was just a dream, honey. You’re safe.” She hugged him tight and he sighed against her. “I’m right down the hall, but I need to go back to bed, okay? I’ll close your closet door.”
“Please stay until I fall asleep?” he begged, not wanting her to go.
“We all have to be up early, Connor. You can go to sleep it’s okay. I love you.”
“Okay mama.” Connor knew crying wouldn’t get her to stay but he wanted to. Maybe if he waited till she left, then he’d slip out of bed and run super fast to her room.
Mama kissed his forehead and tucked him in, then walked over and closed the closet door. Connor eyed the long handle as she called out another good night and left. He looked at the door as it took away the light then he jerked his gaze back to the closet. It’s a dream. A dream.
Little bumps appeared all over Connor’s arms and legs as it got so cold. He shivered and stared at the long closet door handle. Without a noise the handle turned upwards before the door easily slid open. Connor whimpered and closed his eyes as he called out for Mama again.
“Go to sleep, Connor!” She called from down the hallway.
Footsteps sounded on the wood floor, a tapping click that sounded like Daddy’s pen when he was bored. Connor jerked the blanket over his head and tried to lay still as he shivered. Something sharp tugged at the blanket near his foot and he struggled to keep a hold of it. Fast like Flash, his blanket was taken away. Connor uncovered his head enough to peek between his arms. His cry for help was stuck in his mouth as he stared at the monster, inches from his face as it leaned over the bed.
“Hello, child.” It said in voice like one of Daddy’s saws. Its long mouth, which was touching its chest, spread from side to side and Connor cried out for Daddy. Long, long fingers wrapped around Connor’s leg a couple times before it lifted him from the bed and strode back to the darkness of the closet. Connor cried out as he tried to grab at the floor, but he couldn’t even reach it.
“Go to sleep, Connor!” Mama called from the safety of her room. Connor yelled again before the door shut and everything turned black.
Flashes of the accident assaulted Ben’s dreams, quickly turning them dark. Piercing screams, the blaring alarm, and overwhelming terror as a wave struck and Ben was plucked from the deck like an ant against a river. The taste of the salty water felt so real Ben thrashed about, which drew him from his nightmare.
With a strangled cry he jolted awake. He blinked against the blindingly hot sun and lifted an arm to shield his eyes. I’m on land? How? He jumped when water lapped at his legs. The tide was slowly rising, easily soaking him to the waist as he lay on the beach. He pushed himself back out of its warm reach and peered around, trying to ignore the severe headache pounding against his skull.
There was water. So, so much empty water. He fought down the panic that constricted his chest as he turned and surveyed the land behind him. There were trees, thank God.I can work with trees. Did anyone else survive? Did the ship even sink? He couldn’t recall anything after the pain of hitting the midnight water head first.
Ben pushed himself to his feet and wobbled for a moment before working his way inland more. Years of basic survival training as a kid came in handy right now. He shoved the anxiety over the accident to the back of his mind, surely to resurface once he fell asleep, and started formulating a plan. As he strode along the beach something caught his eye. He altered his course and approached the rounded, white object. When he got close enough to see that it was a human skull he stopped.
“That is not a good sign.” He whispered to the hot, still air. Having been so focused on the skull itself he failed to notice the crab that had claimed the long-unused bone. Ben watched in a mixture of amusement and horror as the crab started to crawl away, dragging the skull with him.
After he made it a good five feet, Ben shook himself from his daze and dashed after the crustacean. He scooped it up and cradled the skull in his arm as the crab tried to pull itself as far into its makeshift shell as it could.
“You’re either going to be my buddy or my dinner.” Ben announced as he started towards the trees. “I’ll make you a little pen so you don’t abandon me, and only time will tell.” He continued into the trees, glad to see some with vines.
Before Ben stepped out of sight of the ocean he looked back, hoping for a sign of the ship. Or any ship. He didn’t want to be here, but he was going to make the best of it if he were truly stuck. He looked down as the crab tentatively poked at his arm, seeking escape. His voice made it duck back under cover.
“We can scope out the island tomorrow. Maybe we’re just on the other side of an island resort, huh?” The crab hid in his skull and Ben sighed. “Fine be that way.” He looked around to find something to dig with, silently thankful for some form of company, even if he was getting the silent treatment.
The soldier rolled his shoulders as he stared at the rocky mountainside before him. His sword arm was sore and barely responsive, but he flexed and stretched it. He needed to be prepared. He watched as a small segment of the mountain twitched, like a horse trying to be rid of a fly.
“But why?” A small voice broke through the soldier’s thoughts. He blinked several times and suddenly he was back in a small, purple bedroom. He looked at the sleepy child in her bed at his side and reached over to stroke her cheek.
“Why what?” He asked.
“Why did the mountain move, Papa?” She asked, coughing hard. Her tiny body convulsed with each cough and it took everything in him not to reach down, scoop her up, and rush her back to the hospital.
“Because it’s alive, sweetheart. Let’s keep reading, yeah?
She nodded and pulled her purple blanket up to cover her arms. He picked up the book and opened the page again to show her the photo of a lone soldier that stood against a gargantuan mountain with a long grey sword in his right hand that pointed out towards the ground at his side. A thick cloak attached around his shoulders and billowed around his legs as the breeze blew past. The tall green grass around him was bending from the wind as well.
“He looks like you, Papa!” She said with a smile. He smiled down at her as he continued reading, knowing she would interrupt again but if it prolonged their story then he didn’t care.
With a deep grumble, the mountain shifted slightly. The soldier widened his stance to keep his footing, and waited.
“What’s he waiting for, Papa?”
“To face the monster, sweetheart.”
He closed the book, keeping his thumb on the page. “Because it’s his job to protect the people.”
“But what did the monster do?”
“I don’t think this story tells us.”
Her brow wrinkled as she frowned in thought. After a moment she looked up at him. “It’s the soldier’s job to fight the monsters?”
“Yeah.” He smiled softly at her.
“But, not all monsters are ones you can see, right?”
He closed his eyes briefly before he nodded. “Yeah. That’s right.” His voice cracked with emotion as he cupped her head in his hand.
“Like the cancer.” She added in a matter of fact tone. He nodded, though he couldn’t speak.
“So can this soldier fight the cancer too, Papa?” She asked, peering up at him with owlish blue eyes.
He opened his mouth to tell her no. To say that cancer is something that they couldn’t fight with swords and fists. But he also wanted to assure her that maybe there was hope since everything else had failed. He wanted to say yes so he wouldn’t feel the crushing weight on his chest and wouldn’t fear to leave her side in case it was the last time.
“Can I sit with you, sweetheart?” He said instead. She nodded again and scooted over, making room for his large frame in her tiny twin sized bed. He settled onto the squishy mattress, making it sink under his weight and she fell against his side. She settled her bare head on his bicep and one of her thin hands rested on his broad chest.
“I love you.” He said as he wrapped his arm around her so he could hold the book again.
“Love you too, Papa. Can we finish the story? I’m tired.”
The soldier turned around to peer behind him. His short grey hair stood out against the greenery around him. He looked back with bright blue eyes and a set jaw. A small child sat huddled on the ground staring up at the tall soldier.
“Can you see it move too?” The child asked in a scared whisper and the solider nodded.
“I see your monsters, child.” He spoke in a gravelly voice, and when he did the mountain began to writhe. “I’ll chase them away.” He added before turning back to the monster that was rising to its feet. Each jagged claw was the height of the soldier, but he stood firmly rooted in his spot between the child and creature.
“Do you see the monster’s eyes, sweetheart?” He asked, knowing she would like the catlike effect. He reached up to brush his hand over her head, missing her red curls. “Are you asleep?” He whispered, glad she was finally able to. He set the book up and turned on the bed, the springs creaking under him.
Her eyes were closed as she rested against him. He smiled at her sweet face for a brief, peaceful moment. Then a thought started tugging at his mind and he swallowed before shifting his gaze to her chest. The image of a cat on her shirt was still without her breath to move it.
He swallowed away the lump in his throat as he reached over and placed his hand across her chest. There was no movement. His breath hitched as he looked at her peaceful face.
“Elly?” He asked in a broken whisper, knowing she wouldn’t respond. “El?” He said again before he wound his arms around her and pulled her to his chest. Tears burned his eyes as his wife appeared in the doorway. Her hair was still wet from the shower and the towel in her hand froze as she stared at them. He couldn’t push words past his lips so he just shook his head. With a strangled cry, his wife rushed to the bedside, the towel forgotten in the hall. She ran her hands over Elly’s back and head as sobs ripped free from her chest.
He closed his eyes and cradled his daughter as his wife crawled into the tiny bed too. It had been a long time coming, but he wasn’t ready. He would never be ready. He wasn’t strong enough for this. As tears rolled down his face he heard his daughter’s voice in his mind, comparing him to the strong soldier. He shook his head, knowing he had never stood a chance against her monsters.
I startled awake. It was cold in the room and goosebumps covered my bare torso. My wife’s chilly hand was clutching my forearm and I turned to her, panic constricting my chest. Her short red hair was messed from sleep and she had slight bags under her eyes as she stared over my shoulder towards the doorway. Even in the silence of the late hour her whispered warning was barely audible.
“Jeremy, there’s someone in the house.”
I blinked several times, and just like every night for the last seven months, my beautiful wife disappeared from beside me. I reached my hand out to touch her unused pillow and sighed heavily before withdrawing my arm.
It always felt so real. The fleeting moments when my brain was struggling to pull itself from dreams into the painful reality I, barely, existed in. I closed my eyes and heard her voice again.
“No, I heard someone. I’m scared.”
I shouldn’t have brushed it off. I should have listened and called the police or something. Anything besides getting up with a frustrated, exhaustion induced sigh and storming away from her to check out the noise from downstairs. I shouldn’t have called out to the cat once I got into the kitchen, making my location known. Shouldn’t have joked about calling in the SWAT team. Maybe then I would have been there to protect her from the man that crept upstairs. I could have taken the bullet that ripped through her stomach when she got up to see why I was just standing in the hallway. I should have done a lot of things.
I rolled over so my back was to her place. I squeezed my aching eyes closed and willed myself to go back to sleep. It worked, surprisingly. I began to doze off again. Until I felt a cold hand on my back.
“Jeremy, there’s really someone in the house.” Claire’s voice called in a frantic whisper. My eyes snapped open. She never said those words that night, or touched my back. I prepared myself to turn around and face the hallucination as a floorboard outside of my closed door creaked. I looked towards the door, my breath frozen in my lungs as the door handle slowly turned.
I rubbed my aching eyes as I waited. The wall clock was ticking loudly as the minutes passed, and each tick ricocheted around my head painfully. Marie had stood after a while and started cleaning her fur. I tried not to glare at her for the annoying tongue noises. She usually did that in private.
“You would think they’d have multiple doctors or something.” Marie murmured as she cleaned her foot. “Especially in this part of town.”
“Maybe they’re all sick.” I offered lamely. I’m pretty sure this is what death feels like. I closed my eyes against the harsh overhead lights and tried to tune out the sounds of the waiting room.
A paw on my good arm startled me from my doze. I didn’t even remember passing out, but I wasn’t surprised it happened. I looked over to find Marie watching me as she removed her paw. She blinked slowly before turning to the hallway behind the receptionist desk where a nurse stood with an expectant look on her face. She brushed the loose part of her long brown hair over her shoulder. When she looked down the hall I could see it was in a half ponytail.
She called my name, for probably not the first time, and I nodded as I struggled to my feet. I should not have sat down. Ugh. I looked up from my shuffling steps to see the nurse glaring at Marie on my trail.
“She’s coming with me.” I declared and the nurse’s olive green eyes went to my face. She stared at me for a moment before nodding slightly and turning. I followed her slowly down the long hall, past numerous closed doors. Her scrubs were a mix of various reptiles. Most of them I knew, there were a few that I had no guesses on. She motioned me into room 23 but kept walking. I went to the tall examination bed and eased myself up on it as Marie took the empty chair in the corner opposite the door.
My head swam from walking. My eyes drifted closed again, so when the nurse returned I jumped. As I fought the pain of being startled, the nurse set to work taking my blood pressure and all the things I wish they would skip so they could just heal me. A groan from another room sounded and I looked towards the door worriedly. Was that the lobby girl? The nurse kicked out with her foot and closed the door with a heavy thud before turning her attention back to me.
“I’m going to clean you up before the healer comes in.” She announced. I nodded, just ready to be done with the day. “Have you taken any medication in the last 24 hours?” She asked as she opened a cupboard above the sink. Numerous bottles, all identical in shape but varying in color, were stuffed into the cabinets. She selected a red and blue bottle as I shook my head, which I immediately regretted. She tsked and sat at the computer. “Tell me what happened.” She commanded and I obliged while focusing on her fingers flying across the keyboard.
By the time the nurse left the room, my whole body was on fire. Not literally, but man the cleaning had burned. Looking at my arm though, it looked even worse without the solid coating of stinking Maw blood. Marie was grumping from her chair in the corner because the nurse had cleaned her up too. Well mostly.
“I was fine.” She groaned.
“You were sitting in a puddle of blood.” I replied.
“Not really. It was small.”
The door opened to emit the healer then and cut off my retort. He wasn’t what I was expecting from previous healer visits. Middle aged but fit, his wore dark green scrubs that showed cats, which I found interesting. His short brown hair was slicked back and he wore thick glasses that showed grey eyes when he looked up.
“Hi. So I hear you had some issues today.”
“A few.” I replied, lifting my burned hand in a wave. His eyebrows rose slightly as he took in the visible wounds on me. Then his gaze shifted to Marie in the corner and his mouth dropped open.
“Is that…is that a Faeline?” He whispered with his grey gaze glued to her. She stared at him a moment then looked to me.
“Yeah. Marie the healer. Healer, Marie.” I introduced them.
“I’m Chade.” He said as he set his clipboard down on the bed and walked over to kneel in front of her chair. I looked down at the clipboard and cocked my head to the side before lifting the pages to reveal a large bite shaped chunk missing from it. Well that’s awesome.
“I have never seen one in person. I’ve read about them religiously. They’re such a fascinating species.” He whispered as he stared at her. He lifted his hand and slowly approached her head. It was so hard not to giggle.
“She uh, doesn’t like to be pet really.” I offered before he got bit. He stilled his hand and let it drop before nodding.
“What happened to her beautiful face?” He asked, turning to me. I saw Marie shift her front feet before she surprised us both and replied.
“That dumbass got himself attacked and I saved him.” She said smoothly. The laugh that escaped my throat was way louder than I intended as he fell backwards onto his butt. He stared at her with wide eyes as she hopped off the chair. She walked towards his head before licking his cheek once.
“Mace, I like this one. Can I keep him?” She said as he stared dumbstruck.
“No, Marie. He needs to stay here. He needs to fix me, preferably soon.” I said. She tsked and returned to her chair as he struggled to recover.
“She…she …talks? You have a talking Faeline?” he said, though his gaze never left her.
“Well we kinda have each other.” I said before narrowing my eyes. “Don’t they all talk?”
He shook his head and sat back up.
“No. Only a few select lines did. Most were used as guardians. That is absolutely amazing. I didn’t know there still were speaking ones in the world.”
“Yeah she’s one of a kind.” I winked at her but she just ignored me.
“So many believe these lines died out…” He was still watching her, as if she would magically transform.
“Well she didn’t. Anyway, I’m kinda in agony here.”
He looked over at me for a moment before his gaze focused and he pushed himself to his feet. ”Of course, I’m so sorry.” He went to the sink and washed his hands before searching through the cupboard above. I couldn’t read any of the labels but I hoped it was for something to numb the pain. He gathered bandages as well before turning to me. He handed me a small white cup of a light blue liquid that was definitely not water.
“Drink this, and then I’m going to start with your burn.”
I downed the berry flavored drink then gave him my hand. He squeezed some of the dark green gel from the similarly colored bottle onto my palm. I hissed at the icy feeling as he began to spread it around. By the time the gel covered my entire upturned hand, the pain of the burn was a dull ache. He left that sitting on the table while he washed his hands again and retrieved a brown bottle from the cupboard. He sat down on my other side and gave me a look.
“This will hurt?” I asked and he nodded. I took a steadying breath and offered my shredded arm.
“HOLY HELL!” I yelled as dark orange ooze dripped from the bottle and he slathered it across my entire forearm. It was an achievement that I was able to stay sitting. Marie had jumped off her chair to the table and sat beside me, offering silent comfort.
Once I got over the agony of him touching me I opened my eyes to find him suturing some of the teeth marks. I couldn’t feel it at all. The pain was there, but I suspected that was from the bone-deep bites. He worked intently, though I saw him glance at Marie several time. I closed my eyes because watching him was making my stomach churn. By the time the orange goo started to wear off, he was finishing up.
So you’ll need to come back in in a couple weeks so I can make sure there is no infection and such.” He said as he stood to clean up. I looked down at my sutured arm and sighed. Marie walked around me to inspect them before sitting down and looking up.
“Well the scars will be bad ass.” She said and I glared at her. Chade smiled at her before addressing the burn. He washed the hand and applied another, thicker ointment and bandaged it. After he was completely finished with the various cuts and scrapes I had, he gave me medicine for my head. I appreciated that he didn’t bug me about what happened. Saying it once was enough. Well twice. You told Lobby Girl too.
I started thinking about her as my gaze roamed the room and settled on the clock. Wow two hours flew by! I narrowed my gaze at the ticking hands.
“Is that clock correct?” I asked. Chade looked up from the clipboard he was scrawling across and followed my gaze before nodding.
“Yes it is. Why?”
“I’ve been here for two full hours already?”
“Yeah. Good thing the rest of my day has been clear.” He returned his attention to his notes and I looked at Marie, who was curled up on the table. She must be completely exhausted. We aren’t even close to home either.
I slid from the table and stood on shaky legs. I hadn’t eaten all day. I was so sore. The goo was wearing off of my body parts and steady throbbing took its place. I closed my eyes at the hollow feeling.
“If you want to head to the small kitchen in back, Helda will feed you while I tend to Marie.” Chade offered softly. I opened my eyes to stare at him. He seems sincere but I don’t trust him.
“I’m fine. I’ll wait.” I moved to the chair and sat as Marie lifted her head to stare at Chade.
“No funny business, handsome.” She purred and I rolled my eyes. He smiled and gently reached out for her. When she stood, she left a bloody splotch on the paper that covers the table. I watched tiredly as he inspected her before he rummaged around the cabinet for a couple different white bottles. One of the ointments took her nose swelling away. The nurse hadn’t washed her as thoroughly so between that and her current bleeding, she had matted clumps of fur in several spots. Chade rubbed a black gel into those and when he rinsed them the mats melted away with the water.
As he worked he chatted softly with her. It was weird to see someone else talking to Marie. I couldn’t remember many doing that before. He told her he had always adored cats, and especially Faelines.
“Do you know much history of the Faelines, Mace?” He asked and I opened my heavy eyelids. He was suturing the big cut on her side. When did she get that again?
“Well I know it all.” He said as he turned to me. “I know that they were bred into existence. Coveted for their ingenuity and fierceness. Only those that were exceedingly loyal and smart survived.”
He turned back to Marie, who had her eyes closed and dug her claws into the table. “They slowly decimated the feline population until none lived in the monster realm.”
“But when the Sages split the realms, didn’t they make it so ordinary creatures could cross without issue?” I asked. My brain was fairly fuddled and I hoped I didn’t sound like a dumbass.
“They did, yes. But the cats just never returned. No one knows why.”
“Probably because we’re superior and would slay them.” Marie mumbled. I smirked at her. Always the glorious warrior.
Chade finished with her side and did one more inspection before announcing she was good to go. She stood and stretched slightly before sitting again and looking towards me. I nodded and tried to stand, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. I’m so freakin’ tired. I looked up when Chade appeared in front of me, his scarred hand outstretched. I took it and he easily hauled me to my feet. He offered to Carry Marie as well, but she politely refused. Marie. Polite. HA.
Chade helped us to the lobby where reptile nurse was sitting at the front desk. He asked her to call us a car, which I tried to turn down, but he insisted. The phone began to ring somewhere down the long hallway and he excused himself to answer it, but not before thanking us for giving him a chance to meet Marie. She purred at him while I held back an eye roll.
As I was easing into a chair in view of the door, a familiar voice called out from behind me. I jumped and turned to find Lobby Girl smiling shyly at me. Why is she still here? I thought as she stood, throwing a green khaki shoulder bag on as she approached. She sat beside me, opposite of Marie.
“I’m sorry. I hope it isn’t weird that I waited for you. It’s just…” She paused and turned her amber gaze to my face. She’s pretty…for a possible spider. “You are so intriguing. I really want to know more. Can you tell me?”
“Of course!” My mouth said before my brain could register it happening. I tried to backtrack but she reached over and offered her hand.
“It’s lovely to meet you Muhmace.” She said with a smile. I snorted on accident and tried to recover as smoothly as I could. STOP doing that!
“No, sorry. Just Mace.” A low growl from beside me made me add onto my introduction. “Oh and Marie.”
“Hello Marie.” Morrigan leaned around me to smile at Marie, and as she did so a thin, black corded necklace fell from inside her shirt to reveal a beautifully carved raven in flight. I realized the area my eyes were focused and snapped my gaze back to Morrigan’s face.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well.” I offered her a smile as the car pulled up to the door.
I am sorry it’s been so long since my last update. Sorry for the missing chapter as well. It’s there now. I have decided to step back from writing this story for a while and really focus on world building for it. I hope to continue the story sometime in this month (August) but I have several other projects at the forefront right now. Thank you all for following along and I promise I will pick it back up!
Faeline- fay line
Araneae – air an A
Hasselti- Hass el tee
Monere- Mon err ahh
Chade- Ch aid
Morrigan- m ohr ih g in