Plowing Through the Writing Weeds by Tiffany A. White

Many of us participating in this ROW80 challenge hope to write for a living one day – if we don’t already.  Writing isn’t easy.  We don’t become New York Times Bestsellers overnight, or in a year for that matter.

But that’s okay – not many careers can be defined as easy.

Is accounting easy?  No.  Is architecture easy?  No.  How about teaching?  Absolutely not.  Engineering, practicing law, and working construction?  Not easy.

As if the process of writing wasn’t difficult enough, we unfortunately also find ourselves lost in a maze known as the writing weeds more times than we can count.  Our fingers become paralyzed, locked into place above the keyboard while we shake our heads from left to right.  If we’re old-school and draft with a pen and notebook, we might thrust the pen deep into the paper and slash back and forth until we’ve destroyed the little white page.

Obstacles exist in writing and every other facet of life; there’s no way around that.  We can, however, find what works best for us to plow through the weeds.

Reading a great book oftentimes opens a writer’s imagination and helps our own words flow onto the page.

If we write mystery, we can pick up a James Patterson novel and follow his protagonist, Alex Cross, as he captures the serial killers haunting the DC police and FBI.  The series is a great weed-eater because Patterson has provided readers with over fifteen Cross books we can use to familiarize ourselves with the detective and his many antagonists.

When we need a complete break from the written word, we can watch a movie.  While visual, movies still allow us to learn character development and follow the plot, or story arc, from start to finish while curled up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn.

If we write romance, we can watch Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile and witness Joan (a romance novelist, by the way) and Jack’s love/hate relationship to discover the give and take of what a strong romantic relationship entails.

We can also watch a favorite television program to clear a path through the weeds.

Pretend we’re working on a character biography for a strong female protagonist.  Why not click over to TNT and watch an episode of The Closer?  As writers, we can learn a lot by watching Brenda Lee balance her professional life with her personal relationships while working through each and every one of her character quirks and flaws.

Books, movies, and TV programs are just a few examples of fantastic writing weed-eaters.  Of course, we can always pick up a great style guide along the way too, like Save the Cat by Blake Snyder or Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.  Learning the craft of writing is an excellent weed-eater when we’re lost in the maze of writing woes.

So tell me, what’s your favorite writing weed-eater? 

On a personal note, Row80 keeps me on my toes.  Would you believe that I never once set writing goals prior to joining Round 2 earlier this year?  Now, the Row can’t get rid of me!  I’ve learned the importance of finding the perfect weed-eater to plow through my writing weeds and learning to balance whatever obstacles my manuscript throws my way.

I wish you continued success and hope to see you in future ROWing rounds.


Tiffany A. White



  1. Love the weedkiller concept, Tiffany. Fantastic!

    I use quite a few different methods, movies, television, doodling on paper, picking a random item from my never-shrinking research list (the personal one not the writing one) and playing one of a couple of games I enjoy. One of these will generally pop me out of the slump and get things rolling again.

    Great post. Thanks 🙂

  2. Gas powered or electric? hehehe. Seriously, great post. I like to revisit old movies and books to get my juices going again or to figure out how that author handled the problems I’m facing.

  3. I love to read – so that’s something I’m doing all the time even when I’m not stuck 😛 My favorite weed eater right now is writing prompts. If I can’t apply it to the story I’m stuck on, I’ll use it just to get some words flowing, which is often what I need to get the mojo back.

  4. Excellent ideas and examples Tiffany. Romancing the Stone is such a classic. One of the best inspirations, weed-eaters for me is actually in gaming. Alan Wake. The story pays homage to the horror/thriller greats like Dean Koontz and Stephen King as you follow the protagonist on his journey questioning sanity and the reality of what happened to his wife. It’s easy to soak up the literary motions and continually unwind the layers to the story.

  5. Okay, this is going to sound really bizarre, but when I hit a writing slump I watch…

    Murder She Wrote.

    Honestly. My daughter is a huge fan of Angela Lansbury, and about a year ago, she started loaning me the season DVDs to watch. When I hit a wall writing, I pop an episode in the computer or the DVD player. Sometimes I fall asleep. Sometimes I laugh at the 80s hair and clothes. But I always come away thinking, “I can write!” I don’t know what the magic connection is between my writing and an old television show that I never followed when it was on the air, but there’s something about it that gets me writing again.

    Like they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

    And now you know my secret weed eater.

  6. Love the idea of a weed-eater! I have a whole bunch of them. I love to read. Not always in the genre I’m trying to write…which is probably what I should be doing. LOL. I love The Closer though. And The Walking Dead. Plus *cough cough* I like soaps. Okay, I said it. I like soaps. They’re total brain candy. 😀

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