The “B” Word

How to face the dreaded writer’s b****

By A.J. Llewellyn

Until my father died six years ago I’d never experienced the B word. Okay. I’ll say it. Writer’s Block.

For many years I had multiple deadlines with several publishers, and I didn’t have time for the B word. I was superstitious and thought even saying the word aloud would jinx me. Over the years I had lots of writers emailing me, or asking me at conferences how I dealt with um, the B word and I’m sure they thought I was lying or being delusional when I said I couldn’t give in to the mere thought of the B word. I may have sounded snooty when I insisted my books wouldn’t write themselves.

Looking back, I think fear kept me going. Not to mention those deadlines. I had two whiteboards in my office with titles of books written on them and the stages each one was at. I’d always dreamed of being a writer and pushed myself even when I was sick or exhausted. Every romance writer will tell you that your newest book drives your back catalogue. So, for me, this was a dream come true and I had to be faithful to it.

I’d written my first book when I was eight. It was terrible of course. The heroine was very sick, and she loved horses and a certain mysterious prince. Everyone died at the end of the story, including the horses. But still, I bought another exercise book and worked on a new story.

Remember the old Jona Lewie song, You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties? Well, you will always find me hidden somewhere writing on napkins, bits of paper, toiler paper, paper towels. I never stop writing.

Then my father died, and my writing well ran dry. It was a bit of a shock at first because I’d always thrown myself into my work. It had been my refuge, and suddenly it was my big black hole. I didn’t know how to cope at first. I had deadlines and I realized how tired I really was. How stressed out. I’d pushed myself for a long, long time. And I was burnt out. There were no other words for it. I didn’t even want to write shopping lists.

I wasn’t sure what to do and didn’t want to tell anyone. Like I said, I was superstitious and did not want to admit I had writer’s block. I guess I had it coming. There are so many books written about the subject and everyone has an opinion. For me, the only thing that worked was not to write. I started taking art classes with a wonderful teacher who facilitates soul collage cards. These are cards made of collage that you accumulate and learn to give yourself readings. It is a fantastic tool because you are opening yourself to other forms of creativity.

Soul collage cards
A collection of soul collage cards

I signed up for every soul collage class I could find and loved it. Not pushing or punishing myself to write helped me relax and become unblocked. Then I stumbled across a wonderful website called

It’s free for 30 days. After that you can pay for it but it’s not expensive. It’s music and undertones that help you focus. You choose the kind of music you want to hear and how deeply you want to focus. It helped me start a book I had been unable to finish. I mean, three paragraphs, but it was a good start.

I also went back to the best resource I know, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. What a gem that book is! I started doing morning pages, which she advocates. I found that it became easier to write about my dad, and the anguish I felt over his passing. I made myself go on artist’s dates. Usually a movie, lunch, then a bookstore visit. One artist’s date I went to the Grammy Museum. Another one was a visit to an art gallery that celebrated Eloise, still one of my favorite fictional creations.

Eloise makes me feel good and she loves her dog, like I do. And tea and cakes. Ahem, yes, I adore them too. Eloise reminded me of all the things I loved as a kid and had forgotten that I still do.

It was hard getting back to writing because I was having so much fun not writing. I realized that my crazy schedule had robbed me of the pleasure of what I love doing more than anything in the world.

I took a good look at that and slowed down my output. When my longtime writing partner, DJ Manly died two years ago, I fell into another depression and stopped writing again. By this time, I’d developed so many other artistic interests that it became easier to lean on those things. I had been volunteering at my local library every weekend and loved helping out there. Once I got locked in by accident and was thrilled. It was me alone with all those books! At one book sale during my second bout of writer’s block, I came across a funny little book called Writer’s Block by Jason Rukelak. It’s like an oversized flip book with tons of tips for dealing with the B word.

I bought it for a princely 25 cents. So, I got a bargain as well as an amazing little book that changed everything for me. It’s filled with writing prompts and some of them are really cool. One of my favorites is writing a story about having a romance with your favorite celebrity, first from their point of view, then yours. As a romance writer, this was priceless.

Writing prompts are excellent tools to jump start the creative process. And what they and all the other things I’ve been doing, taught me was this. I can’t and won’t stop being a writer.

It’s who I am. And I learned that when I feel stuck in life, or on the page, the only choice I have is to write.

Aloha oe,


A.J. Llewellyn

Bestselling author A.J. Llewellyn

lives in California, but dreams of living in Hawaii. Her passion for the islands led to writing a play about the overthrow of Queen Lili’uokalani’s kingdom.

A.J. never lacks inspiration for writing erotic romances but has many other passions: collecting books on Hawaiiana, surfing and spending time with family, friends and animal companions.

A.J. Llewellyn believes that love is a song best sung out loud.

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