Breaking Writer’s Block

Subject Search

By Annette Rey

Are you having trouble finding  a subject about which to write? I have found that odd subjects are alluring to many readers. People are curious. Many are seekers. A lot of them are ravenous readers and read package ingredients, posters, and billboards. They are hungry for information and they wish to escape their realities. So don’t think you won’t please an audience if you write on subjects out of the ordinary.

Who doesn’t squirm when a hairy spider is described? Yet, like people who watch ghost stories or sensational news clips, their eyes peer between the fingers covering their face, so as not to miss a thrilling moment.

Let’s talk about roaches.

Cockroaches can live a month without their heads! That statement deserved an exclamation point.

They can go months without food and a month without water.

Have you ever studied the crunchy underside of a roach? – Did you get a chill when you read that line? – Good.

If you have the steely nerve it might take to turn him over, you will see suspending tissue that sways with air movement. These fibers tell the legs to run. In essence, the cockroach runs before the brain knows why it is running. This is an interesting fact on which you can elaborate. Is it this feature that has helped them escape death since the dinosaurs?

And think about the cheetah, the fastest land animal. He has competition. The cockroach can run fifty lengths of his body in a fraction of a second.

A tiny roach has the power to make a very large human squeal and run. They are creepy and ooze white fat when flattened by a braver human. But, they are no less an exciting being about which to learn. And a good subject about which to write.

Research the roach. Then write about the him. Put a roach into a woman’s blouse in your story and see what happens. Maybe in a crime scene in your story roaches are meandering in and out of a dried, open, tissue-blackened wound in a long-dead body.

Ok, ok. . . not for the squeamish. But you get my drift. One subject leads to another and another. Writing generates itself. You can take a subject anywhere. Follow the thread.

You don’t have to believe there is such a thing as writer’s block.

Here’s another example. Have you ever been to Minnesota? I have and, trust me, the mosquito is the Unofficial State Bird. The first time you see one you’ll say, “What in the world is that?” The legs hang down many inches and they seem to have human feet they are so large. The body supports those legs and the wing span is several inches wide. Minnesota has fifty species of mosquito.

Now you can write about this mosquito and add humor. Mark Twain said of the Minnesota mosquito, “Two could whip a dog and four could hold down a man.”

I own a T-shirt with an image of one on it wearing tennis shoes (remember the big feet I mentioned) with the caption “Minnesota Air Force.”

A little research reveals it is the female that bites and sucks blood, but she can’t drink it because it is too thick. So, she injects a blood thinner from her body – into your body. Is this as yucky to you as a white-oozing roach?

Further, the mosquito has no feeling in her abdomen, so while drinking your blood, she must stroke her abdomen with a back leg to monitor the swelling organ before stopping her bite.

Your friends should be turtles, frogs, and bats – they eat mosquitoes. Say, there’s another subject – bats. Do some research and work those into your story.

Now turn that mosquito story into an exposé, using a journalistic approach. One million people a year die from mosquito borne diseases, i.e. encephalitis, West Nile, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika. Does that figure shock you? It will shock your readers, too.

Just because others have written thousands of words on any subject doesn’t mean you have nothing to add. Put your own view on it, insert your voice.


Finding a subject is no problem, you will not have a blank screen. Open your mind. Create possibilities. Pick a word, an animal, a past disaster, a future dread, and just begin writing about it.

The words will flow.







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