No matter what multi-purpose, efficient, streamlined software you have on your computer, sometimes the old pen and paper are the best tools on your desk.

I’ve been using Scrivener, a fantastic software program designed to help writers create and manage large projects. I can’t say enough good things about this program. But this morning I got stuck. It wasn’t a case of writer’s block, more like a case of idea block. I needed something to happen (my two main characters need to find a clue that will lead them to the murderer) but I couldn’t figure out how to make it happen. What is the clue? What kind of action will take place?

I stared at the screen and I scrolled through my chapters. I had lunch, I shared birthday cake with neighbors at the marina, and I tidied up the galley. Nothing. At 2:30 I grabbed a blank piece of paper and a pen and I sat on the back deck. I started writing a list–a typical brainstorming list. 15 minutes later: I have my clue and I have my action.


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