The Road to Writing


In preparation for writing this blog, I grabbed a broom and swept wet leaves off of my backyard deck. Wet leaves do not want to be moved, in case you didn’t know, so it sweeping wet leaves falls just slightly into the category of backbreaking labor. Hey, I’m a writer. Filing my nails can be backbreaking under the right circumstances (like, for instance, I’m cranky). Anyway, the point being that, when I don’t know what to write, I walk away from the computer (okay, sometimes I run) and I do something else. Something physical and mindless and not fun.

Not all writers take this approach. Some, the famously diligent, contemplate the blinking cursor with a death glare, staring it into submission. They will not move from the computer until words have been written. They will not give up. They will drag the words out of their brains or kill the cursor trying. The cursor always gives in first.

My cursor is made of stronger stuff. Or I’m made of weaker stuff. Whatever.

The point is that, while I’m doing boring physical type stuff, ideas unlock in my head. Words practically assault me, begging to be put on the page.  Scenes unfold in my mind while I’m folding the sheets, sparkling and bright (both the scenes and the sheets).

I wrote the scene below for HOW TO DAZZLE A DUKE after a quick run to the grocery store. The trip took twenty minutes. Writing the entire scene took less than an hour. That’s not bad time management, is it? At least I didn’t have to get into a staring contest with my cursor.


Groveling was the least she was prepared to do to attain her duke. 

The very least.

Penelope was quite well aware that Lady Caroline, Sophia’s daughter, and Lady Louisa, Sophia’s something or other, not to mention Lady Amelia and the episode in the mews, had each achieved perfectly respectable husbands in a matter of days, if not hours, by getting themselves well and truly ruined.

How difficult could it be to arrange for Edenham to ruin her?

With Sophia’s aid, it should be simplicity itself.

Oh, most girls of good family, and even those of questionable family, would look at ruination as being the worst fate that could befall a girl. Ridiculous. The worst fate to befall a girl was not getting what she wanted, and in her case, what she wanted was a proper duke. If she had to get him improperly, well then. What of it? Once she’d got him, she’d got him. What could he do about it then?

The thing to do, naturally, was to arrange for Edenham to ruin her before every man in the ton became aware that ruination had become the new betrothal. Once they had done so, and she was not so naive as to believe they could be kept in the dark about it forever, it would become nearly impossible to lure a man into anything even resembling a compromising situation, which surely would turn Society on its head.

Claudia Dain

29 Responses to The Road to Writing

  1. susan leech

    Loved the excerpt , Claudia and looking forward to reading the whole book. Keep on writting. susan L.

  2. Pam S

    Hi Claudia,

    I am website and graphic designer and have to take your advice from time to time as well !

    I enjoy your work and look fwd to reading How to Dazzle a Duke.

    Best of Wishes!

  3. catslady

    Thanks for a great excerpt and a little insight into a writer’s life 🙂

  4. Pam P

    Hi Claudia, just picked up your latest book. I agree with your advice, when totally blocked, and not just for an author, best thing is to get away and take a break. Funny how our subconscious will suddenly spark doing those other things, spark your mind or creativity. Can’t make a watchpot boil as they say, lol.

  5. Claudia Dain

    Maureen, LOL, it’s the same for me! My house looks fabulous when the writing isn’t going well. When the writing is flying out of me, I forget to pay the bills, do the laundry, buy food…it’s a seesaw life.

  6. Claudia Dain

    Carol, thank you!

    The trick for me is realizing that I *have* Brain Freeze. Sometimes I sit too long, frozen, before I realize that I need to move.

  7. Maureen

    Hi Claudia,
    When I am worried or upset my house definitely benefits because I focus that energy on housework.

  8. Carol L.

    Hi Claudia,
    I love your Courtesans books. Love them.
    I think when we get Brain Freeze , the best thing to do is get up and start moving . I loved the excerpt too . Thanks for sharing.
    Carol L.

  9. Guestauthor

    Martha, believe me, I’ve thought of that! Leaving the computer to watch my favorite show on TV doesn’t work AT ALL. LOL

  10. MarthaE

    Great excerpt! I think your approach makes sense because you step away from the block and that helps to refresh you mind so that it can come back with new material! Interesting that you do things you don’t care for… maybe that gives you incentive to get back to what you like to do! 🙂

  11. Guestauthor

    So glad you liked the excerpt, Sherry, Lexee and Little Lamb!

    I remember reading once that Einstein used to take a short nap every day and often came up with solutions to his problems upon waking. I think we need to look away from a problem for a while, let our brains simmer…not that I’m calling my books a problem!

    Well, not usually.

  12. Guestauthor

    Kathleen, you are so right! It’s amazing that anything good can come from a trip to the grocery store. It’s my most hated errand. Blech.

  13. Little Lamb Lost

    I thoroughly enjoyed your excerpt. It is funny how a break doing something completely different can shake something lose. I do a lot of my problem solving that way.

  14. Lexee

    Excerpt was great.

  15. Sherry H

    Love the excerpt!

  16. Kathleen

    Claudia I love the excerpt and I love where you wrote a scene while driving to the grocery store..
    Just goes to prove instpiration can came from anywhere….

    Good luck with all your books

  17. Guestauthor

    Glad you enjoyed it, Debby.

  18. Debby

    Hi Caludia, great excerpt and I enjoyed the readint he whole entry. thanks

  19. Guestauthor

    Glad you enjoyed the excerpt, Pam. Thanks for keeping me company!

  20. Guestauthor

    Thanks for dropping by, Anna! Happy Reading to you too!

  21. Guestauthor

    Valerie, thank you!

    Your advice couldn’t come at a better time. I’m currently struggling with a scene. I need to WALK AWAY! *G*

  22. Pam Keener

    This blog post makes perfect sense to me. I love the excerpt too.
    Love & Hugs,
    Pam Keener in PA

  23. Anna Shah Hoque

    Hey Claudia,
    Great post…really enjoyed reading it.

    Happy Reading!!!
    Anna Shah Hoque

  24. Valerie

    Hi Claudia,

    I’m a big fan of your writing and I really found this blog post interesting. Yep, sometimes we need to get away from something, do something totally different, clear the mind and whammy….we make progress!!!!

    Keep it up!!!

    in Germany

  25. Guestauthor

    It’s truly amazing, but someone did a study on brain activity as it relates to motion…or something like that, and when the body is engaged in mindless motion that involves both hands—like driving, showering, folding laundry, raking, mowing, washing dishes—the creative part of the brain lets loose. A door opens. I find that mind-boggling. But I know it works from experience!

  26. Beth C.

    Hey Claudia. My words unlock in the shower. Too bad the computer doesn’t work there. By the time I get to a computer…half the really cool ideas are gone.

    I’d rather shovel the dry clay than wet leaves. They stick in place and refuse to come off. (That was one of my chores growing up. No fun)

    Great book.

  27. Lisa G

    Hi Claudia! I have days where I don’t know whether I am coming or going! My mind just blanks out when it comes to chores. I hate household chores! At times, I believe the washing machine is attach to my side because no one else knows where that appliance is. Yet, sometimes, those are the times when I get my biggest inspirations. Strange!!

    Great Excerpt

  28. Guestauthor

    Hi Deb!

    I stumbled upon the boring manual labor tactic by accident, but there have been studies that prove that it works. Amazing how the brain works!

  29. Deb Marlowe

    Hi Claudia!

    Love that excerpt!

    I’m the same way. Sometimes I need to walk away. Usually I go sit on the porch swing or pace, though. I’ll have to try the boring manual labor tactic!

    Thanks for the tip!

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