ALL THINGS WRITING: September 4th, 2019

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Today’s Topic: Using music as a creative motivator

“Writer’s block” – a dirty phrase if ever there was one . . .


“It’s okay,” the keyboard coos. “It happens to everyone.”

I grimace. Few things make my stomach churn more than false sympathy. “Not to me. I’m always good to go. I don’t know what’s wrong.”

Perhaps it was the drink, too little sleep, or the endless stress of deadlines and bills and not enough golf.

“Or,” I think, “perhaps I’m so far past my intellectual prime I can’t even manage to fake it anymore. Maybe my last book was really my last book. No more stories, no more chapters, hell, I can’t even muster enough words to make the beginning of a beginning. Sh*t. F*ck. F*ck-sh*t-f*ck. What now?” 

The writing space is cold and quiet. Too cold. Too quiet.

I scroll through some possibilities. “Ah, there it is. That’s the one.” 

Image result for we are augustines

Roland’s song.

I had the idea for the scene (from my upcoming novel, The Turn Point Massacre: Book #6 of The San Juan Islands Mystery series) but lacked the words to bring that pivotal moment in the relationship between Roland and Adele to life. You see, a story is very much like a dance. There is a rhythm, a backbeat, which if done right, helps to propel not only the conflict and characters forward but the reader along with them. They hear what you want them to hear and once that sense is opened up, the other senses of sight and taste and feeling will soon follow.

The music begins. My head nods. My eyes close. My feet tap.

The scene takes shape.

I hear it. I see it. I taste it. I feel it.

The words arrive. The story begins.

This was that moment—Roland’s song where for better or worse he captures Adele’s heart completely. After this, it doesn’t really matter what happens between them. This brief yet very intimate spark of light that they share in a crowded room will never be fully extinguished. Time will pass, others might come into and out of their lives, but for Adele, there will always be a part of her that belongs only to Roland Soros.

So, if your own writing has lost its way and left you standing alone in the proverbial wilderness, try a bit of music to help guide you back home.

D.W. Ulsterman is the bestselling author of the San Juan Islands Mystery series and The Irish Cowboy.

He lives with his wife of 26 years in the Pacific Northwest and is the proud father of two grown children, Devan and Sienna.

He’s also best friends with Dublin the Dobe.

When he’s not busy writing you’ll find him navigating the waters of his beloved San Juan Islands.

All of his novels are available HERE

DW Ulsterman -