Writer’s Block? Make some Quick Dough – By Sherry Hartzler

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Writer’s block? Do you have little tricks to stay at the computer and focus on writing? Some people light candles and won’t blow them out until they’ve written 2,000 words. This method does not work for me. I forget to blow out the candle and don’t remember until after leaving the house for an errand. Also, I’ve read many articles on writer’s block that suggest that you sit down and just write, don’t bother thinking about it, just write. This suggestion reminds of the scene in The Shining where scary Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) sits in that big hotel on a snowy mountain typing page after page after page of All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

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There are times when a writer just can’t find the words to tell a story. The blackboard is blank, the mind shuts down, the fingers are sick and tired of traipsing across the keyboard. It’s frustrating and maddening, downright Sybil-to-the-tenth-personality. At this point, you just gotta change course.

Writing can be compared to slicing open a melon, and then scraping everything out right down to the green rind. It’s difficult and energy draining. Writers are extremely self-critical by nature, because we analyze our characters, and we learn every good and bad trait about them, extremely exhausting. After all, there’s nothing about our characters that doesn’t come directly out of us, is there?

I believe writer’s block is a tiredness that saturates every muscle and cuts into to the marrow of every bone in our bodies. For survival’s sake, we need to swim to the surface and take in a great big breath of normal life that oftentimes gets neglected. By doing this, we might shun our craft for a few days, a week or whatever, and feel extremely vulnerable when an enormous sense of guilt washes over us about abandoning characters mid-sentence, halfway through a plot, or suspended in a pivotal scene.

Call it a vacation from our work, call it lazy, call it whatever you want to call it, but I feel these spaces of not working are important to embrace and make the most of it by doing something totally not connected to writing.

When I get into one of my writing despairs, I find comfort in going back to the basics, and my way of doing this is to make dough, not the kind you spend, but the kind that makes bread.

I love making my own pizzas, and I have a great pizza dough recipe that can ready to use in less than an hour. There is something very healing about taking a tablespoon of yeast and a teaspoon of sugar, then adding it to a ¼ cup of warm water. Within a few minutes it bubbles and gains volume and the smell is like, well, yeasty. It gives me a sense of grounding and balance.

Here is my pizza dough recipe. Enjoy.

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PIZZA DOUGH

2 to 2-1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 T yeast

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup very warm water (120 deg. To 130 deg.)

1 T olive oil

1 T honey

In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour; the yeast and salt.  In 1-cup measuring cup, combine water, oil and honey; stir into flour mixture until soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto floured surface.  Knead dough, adding some of remaining flour, if necessary, until dough is very elastic – 10 – 15 minutes ( Note: I just use my dough hook – 10 minutes).  Dough should be ready to put into bowl – so easy).

Wash, dry, and lightly oil mixing bowl.  Place dough in oiled bowl, turning to bring oiled side up.  Cover with clean cloth; let dough rise in warm place, away from drafts, until double in size – 30 to 45 minutes.  Shape and bake following whatever recipe you are following.

Note: I make a thin-crust pizza, so I only use half the dough. The remainder of the dough can be put into the fridge for a few days. I usually make bread sticks from the remainder dough. So yummy.

Be creative with the toppings. On this pizza, I topped the sauce with sliced green peppers and chopped ripe olives, along with thin slices of pepperoni.

Sherry Hartzler is the author of Three Moons Over Sedona, Island Passage and Chasing Joe, all available on Amazon.com

 

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/189-6210355-0480833?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=sherry+hartzler

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14 Responses to Writer’s Block? Make some Quick Dough – By Sherry Hartzler

  1. Those breaks are certainly useful, although in my case the breaks seem to be a bigger problem than the problem they’re supposed to solve: writer’s block. Or perhaps more accurately: writer’s fatigue—the lack of energy to continue writing. The ideas for plot developments are there, but the mere thought of working them into the story, and thus doing actual writing, drains the battery.

    From the ‘Too Much Of A Coincidence To Be One’ category: the first things I noticed in this blog post where two images from Stephen King’s ‘The Shining.’ Guess what book (or should that be ‘which book’?) is my current bedtime reading. 🙂

    Hey, I’m currently writing a ghost story set in a hotel (between the massive bouts of writer’s fatigue), so I reckoned that if I’m going to learn the trade, I might as well learn it from the master himself. 🙂

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  2. Doris says:

    Oh Sherry, sounds yummy, if I could eat it. Still you make a great point. To me if I am writing life, I do have to live it. Many times I go for walks, clean or just read. My mind tends to keep working whether I’m at the keyboard or not.

    Loved this post. Doris

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  3. sstamm625 says:

    Great post, Sherry! So nice to hear someone say that those seemingly fallow times are useful, instead of the chorus of “there’s no such thing as writer’s block” we frequently hear. Yes, sometimes it’s just procrastination, but sometimes, as you say so well, we need a break where we focus on something else. And thanks for the pizza dough recipe! 🙂

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  4. Nancy Jardine says:

    I’m having a bit of an enforced break from ‘new’ writing just now as I can’t focus in the short snatches available to me (family ties), but since I’m blogging every day, and doing social media posts, I know I am writing in a ‘sort of way’! I’ll get back to WIPs very soon but meanwhile I’m thinking of trying your pizza recipe tomorrow lunchtime! Thank you, Sherry. 🙂

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  5. erinfarwell says:

    Love this. I’ve had a difficult time focusing on anything with the house in an upheaval and non-writing related topics looming. For me, I needed to clear my computer of all games because when I got stuck, I would go to a game rather than write through the block or problem. The other problem is just letting life get between myself and my computer. I was getting better at this before the flood and hopefully it will be better again.

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  6. You made me hungry, but I don’t think I’ll make my own pizza. I’ll see if there’s one from Schwann in my freezer.

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  7. Mike Staton says:

    Make bread … slang for making money. Bringing home the dough. Again, slang for making money. Writing novels. Slang for dreaming of making money while making dough and baking bread.

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  8. katewyland says:

    Great post. I’m fighting procrastination right now. Have ideas but don’t want to sit down and work. Unfortunately doing something else like making dough doesn’t help. Need some other way to break through the resistance. Maybe I’ll try the candle idea.

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  9. Great post Sherry. I’ve had a writing hiatus for almost a year now (except for my posts on this blog) and am getting ready to start writing again. Although mine was forced due to ill health, I realize it has helped me gain new perspectives and ideas. I’m currently working on updates on both Inzared books and ready to start the third. When I don’t want to write I usually take a walk, read or play my guitar. Usually an hour away helps but if it doesn’t maybe I’ll do research or something. Love the pizza dough recipe. Will try it this weekend!

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  10. Wranglers says:

    Sherry, great blog. I loved all the comparisons, and I really loved the pizza dough recipe. I don’t care much for pizza, but I love breadsticks. I might like homemade pizza. This was a great blog and I think we all go through writer’s block in some way. Cher’ley

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  11. Neva says:

    Easy to relate to and I agree with your remedies for writers block. And I agree with making a different kind of dough, other than money, once in a while. Copied the recipe and intend to try it soon! Thanks for the good read. Neva

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