Brain Freeze

by RV Howard

Deputy Sheriff Bernie Karpfinger sees a convenience store on the right.

He needs coffee. As he pulls up, a man dashes out with a revolver in his hand. The Deputy jumps out of the patrol car and shouts “FREEZE! Drop the gun!”

The perp freezes, raises his hands and drops the gun, which fires as it hits the ground. The bullet takes out the left front tire of the patrol car. The explosive kick hurtles the gun through the store’s window and topples a display of energy drinks.

Thinking he is being shot at by an accomplice still in the store, Deputy Karpfinger fires off a couple of rounds. The first smashes the other store window. The second takes the valve off a master tank of butane gas. It ignites and sends a vertical flame thirty feet into the air. The deputy takes cover behind the patrol car.

The now terrified perp runs toward him shouting, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I freezed like you said.” When he rounds the vehicle, the startled deputy faints.The perp, now concerned that the deputy has been shot by parties unknown, takes off running.

Station KFTV-9 at 11 reports a terrorist attack on Route 17A.

I wrote that, then remembered that O.C.Writers now has a professional editor on the masthead, so dropped out of Steve Barry mode and attempted to think of something practical, inspiring or informative – something blog-worthy.

My topic: Brain Freeze

The dictionary says one definition of “freeze” is to become fixed or incapable of speech or action, better known as Blank Page Syndrome, Writers Block, or brain freeze which is what I experienced when I saw the blog subject for December.

So I got practical. When I am stuck, balanced precariously on the edge of a pool of self-pity, I just start typing. Any word, even “freeze,” will do. That’s what I wrote, and Deputy Karpfinger showed up.

Someone in my writing group said, “It’s just words, create a space for them and be patient. Your subconscious will work it out.”

Not helpful? Here’s six more ideas for you:

  1. Try getting out of your head. Take a walk, or a shower, bake bread, meditate, go to a movie, listen to a Bartok concerto or pick up a book and read someone else’s pedantic piffle and nonsensical utterings. Embrace the chaos.
  2. It helps me to change my writing tool. Some days the screen inspires, other days the energy is released through pen on paper.
  3. One of my favorite devices for breaking a mental logjam when working on a novel is asking one of my characters to write me a letter explaining why he or she does what they do. Greta Boris put me on to that.
  4. Another trick is to change your writing environment. Leave your desk and go to a coffee shop, library, bookstore, park, or the corner tavern. I have produced words on the kitchen counter and atop the clothes dryer.
  5. Try copying or rewriting a scene from a favorite book. Just rewriting the last thing I wrote sometimes fills my lacunae of inspiration. When I write at night, two glasses of red wine fills it too.
  6. On the subject of helpful substances, Honore de Balzac wrote: “As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move, similes arise and the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.”

If none of the above defrosts your case of brain freeze, there’s always denial. Tell yourself there is no such thing as writer’s block. It was invented by an author looking for an excuse to go fishing.

O.C.Writer 101


RV Howard’s articles have appeared in The New York Times, Business Week, Consumer Reports, Family Handyman and a dozen trade and business publications. He now lives in Idaho, an hour from Hemingway’s cabin. His first novel, The Pastun Gene, is unpublished as of this posting.

And, he’s also my dad.

2 thoughts on “Brain Freeze

  1. Great ideas! On occasion, I’ll switch to a different project (marketing my books or writing a blog post, until my creative energy returns. I’m so thankful it always does! Thank you for the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.