Chatterbox: Inkwell




This is a problem for every writer at some time or other.  Those 2 dreaded words.... WRITER'S BLOCK!!!! *gasps in horror*  and yes, sadly I do have it.  Do any of you have any ideas how to get rid of writer's blcok? Or, better yet do you have any ideas for my story?  (I spring board off of people's ideas I turn them into my own)  My story is about 4 orphans who become spies.  Any ideas?  please help me!!!!!!  MANY thanks to any one who takes pity on a poor stuck writer.  

submitted by Sam M, age 12, Saline Mi
(January 30, 2009 - 5:33 pm)

Sorry about your writer's block! Here are some tips:


1. Don't worry. The first step in solving any problem is to relax. Unless this is a project for school, there's no real deadline on anything, so just relax and don't worry about thinking of something. It'll come to you when it's ready. That said, however...


2. Get ideas from other places. This isn't plagarism if you just take the basic idea of a story you like reading and shape it into your own idea. For example, if you like Harry Potter, take your orphans to a magic school where they learn to become spies. See what I mean? I got that idea from Hogwarts, but when you put it into your own story, it becomes yours. I think.


3. Read your story so far. Reading what you've already written can kind of ease you back into the story and give you ideas.


4. Make forumlas. For some writers, planning out their story before they write it can help. You may not be this kind of writer, but if you are, planning out what will happen can stop writer's block.


5. Put it aside for a while. Just putting aside your story can help you. Relax. Do something else. Then, when you're ready, come back to the story.


This is going to sound crazy, but...


6. Change the font. I know it sounds crazy, but changing the font can really help you take a new view of the story. Switch things around a little and make it look interesting.


7. Set goals. When you have writer's block, writing one paragraph is a great effort. Two is wonderful. Three is heroic. Set yourself goals, like 'I am going to write 200 words today' and plow on ahead.


I hope these work!



submitted by Lena G, age 11
(January 31, 2009 - 8:49 am)

If you have a specific place you're really stuck on, just skip it and move on with the rest of the story. Eventually you can come back and fill in the blanks. If you're having trouble simply writing anything at all, open a blank Word document and just start writing. I may sound like a weirdo, but it really helps. Start typing anything that comes to mind: words, phrases, names, how mad you are at a teacher, even your phone number. I went to a writing summer camp and we would start every day like that, ten minutes of free write. We could write anything, even if it didn't make any sense whatsoever, as long as we were writing.

Another one of my personal writing strategies is that I have a document for each story I'm working on called "(Story Name) Ideas". In it, I'll write down any ideas I have for an event or character that I might want to include. If the story is dragging and I'm blanking on what to write, I'll just grab an idea and stick it into my writing.

Good luck with your story, and getting rid of your writer's block!

P.S. Can you tell a little more about your story? It sounds interesting.

submitted by Allison P., age 12, Orlando, FL
(January 31, 2009 - 3:34 pm)

I do exactly the same thing. I also have one with just a bunch of plot ideas. Anyway, I'd say also, just start writing. Even if what you write turns out to be horrible, you can just rewrite it. Or follow one of the excellent ideas posted above and ignore me completely. Not a bad idea, since my problem is more getting motivated, rather than writer's block.

submitted by Starfire
(January 31, 2009 - 8:16 pm)

I agree, Starfire! I'll just put it this way, I'm definitely not like TNO in my writing speed. My stories take forever because I'll work on them on and off. I also have a document with just general story ideas. Strange. I guess writer's minds think alike! :)

submitted by Allison P., age 12, Orlando, FL
(February 1, 2009 - 10:24 am)

u really want to read it? It's pretty long an im not even done.  but here it is



 v\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}o\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}w\:* {behavior:url(#default#VML);}.shape {behavior:url(#default#VML);}Normal0MicrosoftInternetExplorer4st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) }/* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0in;mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";}

OK, confession time. Yes, my friends and I did blow up the Eiffel tower and yes we did invitea gang of international terrorists to have some lunch with us but we DID fix itall later!  And it really wasn’t ourfault.  If the CIA hadn’t sent us on theRiccket mission none of this would have happened.  And yes, you did hear me right, the CIA ANDthe infamous Riccket mission.  My friendsand I are spies.  You’ve probably neverheard of us and for good reason.  We arethe CIA’s secret weapon.  We were thebest kept secret on the face of the earth. Until now.

My name is Rachel Sitorri.  I am 14 years old and I have the 3 bestfriends a girl could ever hope for Caitlin Eler, Maria Gomeza, and EllenZuma.  All born in the same month ofOctober and all outcasts, we have something else in common.  We are all orphans (and spies but that comeslater).  Oh, we all have differentstories but they all end up at Saint Catherine’s Orphanage for girls.  I hope you like long, complicated stories ‘becausethis one’s a whopper. So sit back, relax and get ready for our story.




“Welcome to Saint Catherine’s, dear”   said the kindly faced woman at the door “Ido hope you enjoy it here.” 

“Thank you Mrs…”

“Cathaway, Mrs. Cathaway”

“Thank you Mrs. Cathaway for your kind welcome.” I sayglancing around at my surroundings.

“It was no trouble at all dearie, follow me please” Mrs.Cathaway starts down a long hall to my left. Walking down the hall felt like I was walking to a prison cell.  Yes, the place was cheery enough, withbrightly painted walls and pictures by Van Gogh and Monet hanging on the wall,but I was still in shock from the news of my parent’s death and had anextremely gloomy attitude toward life in general.  I really didn’t want to make any small talkat this time but apparently, Mrs. Cathaway did.

“You poor thing” she crooned “having your parents rippedaway from you like that!” “How were you so lucky as to survive the crash?”

“I dunno” was my dull reply.

“Well you are a very lucky girl” she said. I just nodded myhead in reply.  She chattered on aboutthis and that for a little while until we stopped a door.  The room number was 1415.  Huh, Ithought, that’s how I am and old I’ll benext year. Right then I was pretty much letting every thought come into myhead no matter how stupid.

“Here we are!” announced Mrs.Cathaway cheerily.” “You’ll be sharing a room with 4 other girls that we’reexpecting this week.” “Right now Ellen Zuma has been the only girl to arrive,except for you” she said tapping lightly on the door.  After a pause, it was opened by a girl aboutmy age.  She had light red hair andpiercing blue eyes that were magnified slightly by the small round glasses shewore. I assumed she was Ellen Zuma “Oh, hello Mrs. Cathaway” she said.

“Hello Ellen dear” replied Mrs. Cathaway warmly. 

“Who is this?” asked Ellen.

“This is your new roommate, Rachel Sitorri.” Gesturing at meMrs. Cathaway continued, “I want you to show her around the orphanage and showher to her classes, OK?”

“Yes Mrs. Cathaway”

“I’ll give you a pass so that you’re not counted tardy”motioning for me to step into the room Mrs. Cathaway turned to leave.“Remember, dinner is at 5:30,goodbye girls!” she turned away and walked down the hall. Ellen turned to lookat me.

“Well I suppose you should come in” she opened the doorwider and stepped aside Walking in I looked around and saw what Ellen hadapparently claimed for her area.  She wasapparently into computers because she had 2 laptops hooked up and running pluslots of other electrical gadgets and stuff. Ellen must have seen me staring because she started to explain. “Myparents were computer fanatics, they knew all sorts of stuff about computersand they taught it to me” “I learned many different things that I could do witha computer and after my parents died in a fire I earned money by hacking andother illegal things for people.”

“Who would want you to hack for them?” I asked astounded

“Oh lots of people” she answered crossing the room to sitdown on her bed “Business people mostly, who wanted to send an email to lots ofpeople at once.”


“Well, pick your bed” said Ellen,gesturing at the remaining beds.  Turningaround I saw three other beds, all with their own desks and dressers besidethem. One bed stood against the east wall, one against the north wall, so onand so on.  Ellen had claimed the entiresouth wall, the one farthest from the door which stood in the corner.  A large window graced the west wall, andunder it stood a bed.  This one I chose,I liked to be close to the outside at all times. Plopping my large duffel downon the neatly folded comforter, I sighed. I missed my parents so much.  Ithad been a week since the crash had happened but it seemed like it had happenedyesterday. As if reading my mind Ellen asked,

“How did you come to the orphanage?” I unzipped my bag,stalling for time.  Taking out my clothesI began to tell my story.

“Last TuesdaySchool was let out early because ofan approaching snowstorm. My parents came to pick me up.  My parents are-were very good drivers.  My mother was driving excruciatinglyslowly.  At a busy intersection a carwent to fast, slid on a patch of ice and crashed into us.  I escaped with only a slight concussionbecause I was sitting in the far back. Since the car crashed into the front of our car both my parents werekilled.  Both my parents were onlychildren and my grandparents are dead. So the only option was to put me in an orphanage” I’m sobbing now, eventhough I want to put up a brave front for my new friend. 

“There, there” consoles Ellen.  She comes and puts her arm around my shoulder“just cry it all out; I know what it feels like to lose your parents.”   I cry until I can’t cry anymore. When I’vecalmed down a bit, I ask Ellen how she lost her parents.

“Well, my mother died in childbirth and I lost my father tocancer last year.” I lived with my only aunt and uncle for the past year butthen, they dropped me off here.”

“Why would they do that?” I asked, shocked that they wouldleave a kid who needs a guardian to watch over them.

“They were planning to move to India before I came, and itwas to much trouble to get the authorities to let me go to India too, so theykept me long enough to find a good orphanage that would take me and dropped meoff here.” Ellen finished her story with a bow. “Now you should probably getsome sleep when you’ve finished unpacking. You get up pretty early in themorning here.”

            Later thatnight when Ellen has powered down all of her computers and the orphanage isquiet, I look out the window at the stars above and say goodnight to myparents.  I’ve done this every nightsince the horrible car crash and I feel like their there watching over me as Isleep.   Then I drift off into the worldof dreams.



A harsh, loud sound jolts me out of sleep.  Ellen looks over at me, she’s already dressedand working at her computers.

“That’s the morning bell” she says “you have fifteen minutesto get to the dining hall.”  Shivering Iclimb out of bed. In a few minutes I’m dressed and ready to go.  Ellen joins me in the hall.  Walking quickly we soon enter the big mainhall where I first arrived.  Ellendirects me to the hall across from us.

“In there is the dining hall, the gym, and the door leadingto the garden outside.”  Soon we enterthe dining hall.  It’s filled with girlsaged five to eighteen.  The dark, woodpaneled walls show that Saint Catherine’s used to be a sophisticated orphanagefor young ladies.  Long tables stretchacross the room filled with girls in all sorts of outfits.  At the head of the room sit the founders ofSaint Catharine’s.  I see Mrs. Cathawayup there along with an imposing gray haired lady and a chipper looking matronwho Ellen told me was Mrs. Gordon.

“And the tall lady in the middle is Mrs. Marty.  She was the one who decided to found thisorphanage.”  We took our places at atable and Ellen introduced me to some older girls that she was friendswith.  Soon Mrs. Marty stood up andaddressed the gathered girls.

“Good morning all of you” said Mrs. Marty in a rich resonantvoice “I hope you all had a good night’s sleep and I want to welcome a new girlto our orphanage.  Rachel Sitorri pleasestand.” Blushing furiously I did as she asked and the gathered girls began toapplaud and cheer.  After the noise haddied down, Mrs. Marty addressed the girls again.

“Mr. Evelby is out sick today so your history lesson iscanceled and you will have extra free time instead. Now please join me inprayer.”  Instead of bowing my head likethe other girls, I looked around at the hall. My parents had never been big on the traditional religion, preferring toworship God in their own way and they never prayed over meals.  After the prayer the food was broughtout.  It smelled so good! The servinggirls, who appeared to be older girls specifically chosen for this, placed hugetrays of  sausages, eggs, pancakes, andtoast on the tables.  Digging into thefood  I felt as if I had gone toheaven.  This food was perfectly cooked.

“Who is the cook here?” I asked Ellen who was devouring herfood as quickly as I was.

“We have this cook who used to make food for the president”she replied “but he got fired and ended up here.”   Much to soon, the food disappeared and Mrs.Marty dismissed us.  Ellen and I walkedback to our room and she gave me my schedule for the day.  “You’re in my 3rd hour class, 6thhour class and 7th hour class” she told me as we reached the door ofour room.  Opening the door we walked inand gasped.  In our room was a strangegirl!  She was short, with olive coloredskin and long dark brown hair.  Walkingover to us she smiled and said.

“You two must be Rachel and Ellen, right?” Before we couldanswer she started in again.  “I’m MariaGomeza, and I just arrived.  A nice ladyshowed me into here.  She said her namewas Miss.  Bareitha.”  I must have looked confused because Ellenwhispered to me, 

“She’s the English teacher.” Maria apparently loved to talk because she went off again jabberingabout how much she liked this orphanage.

“It’s so much more different than my old one.  It was almost falling down it was soold.  This one is much more, I don’tknow, sophisticated.” As she talked, Maria moved to the bed that stood againstthe north wall.  She took out her clothesand started putting them into her dresser. 

“Whoa, wait a second” I said “you’ve been in anotherorphanage before?”

“Oh yes” Maria replied “ Both of my parents died in Venezuelawhere is was born.  They were part of agroup of rebels  that were fightingagainst the rulers of my country.  Whenmy aunt and uncle escaped to the USthey took me with them.  Then they had tocome back to Venezuelato take care of my Grandmother but they left me in an orphanage here.  I have been moved around to lots of differentorphanages here.  My old one closed andthey moved me here.  That is mystory.”  Maria finished her story andsuddenly a bell rang throughout the school.

 “We should get to ourfirst classes.  You two will receive yoursupplies when you get to your first class, new students all ways do.  Come on, I’ll see you to your classes.”  Saying so Ellen opened the door and we allleft for our classes.  This makes it final, I thought now Ireally belong to the orphanage.


  We quickly settledinto the routine of the orphanage. Wake up at 7:00,breakfast, lessons, break for lunch, a quick break in the courtyard, back tolessons, dinner, freetime, then bed.  Dayafter day we three girls became fast friends, but one thing we did wonder aboutwas when was our new roommate going to arrive. One day exactly one week after Maria arrived here she came.  It was a Tuesday and during break, we saw anew girl in the courtyard and wondered who she might be.  Of course Ellen concluded that if she wasnew, she probably was our new roommate but before any of us could walk over andask, the bell rang and in the mad rush for the door, we lost sight of the newgirl.  None of us saw her again untilthat night at dinner.  We were all eatingat our usual table, tonight was roast beef and potatoes when the new girl cameover.  We quickly sized her up.  With medium length blondish hair and darkbrown eyes she looked us over too.  Clearing her throat she asked

“Um, is anyone sitting there” in a high nervous voice.Looking at her Ellen said,

“Sure, go right ahead.”


“No problem”  After afew minutes of awkward silence Maria asked the new girl

“What is your name?”

“Caitlin Eler” she replied.

“What room are you in” Maria was plowing forward with herquestions eager to know the identity of this mysterious new girl.

“Um, I’m in room 1415” Caitlin replied nervously

“So you are our new roommate!” I exclaimed “We’ve beenwondering when you would show up!” Eagerly we finished the rest of our dinner and then started questioningCaitlin furiously.

“How did you come to Saint Catherine’s?” Ellen wanted toknow

“How old are you” asked Maria

“Tell us everything” I ordered “We’ll tellyou everythingabout us too.”  So Caitlin did.  Apparently she had been living a normal life,like me, before her parents had died. She was a black belt in karate and was fabulous at gymnastics.

“But then everything changed one night” she said her darkbrown eyes looking at the ground. “Somehow our house caught on fire. The firemen could only save me and my brother.  They sent my brother to a boarding school in Englandand me here.”

“When did this happen?” I asked.

“Just three days ago”

“Oh you poor thing!” we all cried and Maria gave her a hug.

“Don’t worry” said Ellen “We’re here for you.”

“I’m so glad to have made friends with you guys so quickly”said Caitlin. The bell sprang to life at that instant and  we all jumped up.  Walking quickly down the hall to our room,we, newly friends faced our future together.


 “Hey, Rachel did yousee that weird guy in gym class today?” Caitlin asked me as we walked to ournext class together.

“Yeah, and I think he had something with our lesson today,”I answered.  The gym lesson had beenespecially grueling today. We had to do lots of things that you only seecontortionists do and Caitlin, who was the most flexible in our class, hadhardly been able to do it all!

“Yeah, I wonder what the point was.”  Caitlin waved goodbye as she hurried into herhistory class.  The rest of the day’sclasses were just as strange.  Instead ofsticking to the curriculum, the teachers went out on all kind of tangents.  The science teacher gave an exam aboutsurviving in the wild.  .I was good atthis because my parents made me memorize all kinds of facts about surviving inthe wilderness.  The history teachertaught us about the history of the FBI and CIA, the language teacher taught ussuper complex things about language and so on and so on. The black spy lookingpeople were everywhere and I wondered if they had something to do with thewacky lessons.  At lunch we allcommentated on the strange day.

“I had absolutely no idea what the answers were for thatscience test” complained Maria.

“I was in Gym class, Oh my Gosh I have never had to workthat hard!” commented Ellen.  “Thelanguage thing was hard for me” I admitted.

“That was supremely easy” exclaimed Maria “are you sayingthat the lesson was confusing!”

“Yes I am” I counted “and while we’re on the subject, thatscience quiz was ‘supremely easy’ as you so put it.”

“Hey Ellen” Caitlin said “ I know you had to do well on thattechnology thin right?”

“Well yes” Ellen admitted “I thought it was very easy.”

“Huh,” said Caitlin “ We all thought 1 thing we had to dowas really easy, but the others were really hard.  I wonder….”

“Well what I’m confused about is why there are so many newadults around” I exclaimed pointing to a group of black- clad people “theydon’t seem to be teachers.  Why do youthink they’re here?” Before anyone could answer though, the bell rang and weall had to get back to class. 

“Well we’ll figure this mystery out later during free time.”Caitlin called back to us as we raced to get to our next classes. 


submitted by Fire Bird, age n/a, somewhere
(February 1, 2009 - 1:00 pm)

Okay, since I wrote this it has been copyrighted at 1-27-09 by Sam M.

submitted by Sam M
(February 2, 2009 - 3:15 pm)

Sam, that's amazing!  I'm going to get after you.

submitted by Leah G., age 12`, Saline, MI
(February 3, 2009 - 5:48 pm)

It's scary and sad, but you write very well. Keep at it!

submitted by Lena G, age 11
(February 3, 2009 - 6:59 pm)

Wow, Sam/Fire Bird (not sure which you are)! That is REALLY GOOD. You say you have writer's block (hate that)? Try looking at other spy or orphan stories for inspiration. Look at the ideas and you may be inspired. Also, this is just me being my usual nutto self, but give yourself five random words and try to write a short story using those words. It works, weird as it sounds. One time at school we had to write a paragraph with five vocabulayr words--well, I'm still working on it because it became this whole thing about this scientist, Dr. Wilhelm Meyer. I'm turning it into a sort of sci-fi fantasy thing. I encourage you to at least try to follow my strange advice. I repeat: it works.

And by the way, just one thing. At the beginning, Mrs. Cathaway names the three other girls coming to 1415. Well, she names Caitlin too obviously. But later-- a WEEK later, in fact-- Caitlin says that her parents just died three days ago. So unless Mrs. Cathaway is a murderous felon who PLANNED to kill them for some reason-- which might actually be a good way to dispel that writer's block-- I think you made a slight error. Another thing-- I'm an English fanatic so don't take this personally, but thereweresomanywordsblendedtogether. And no commas either. So this is just me being all grammar-ish, but please, sometime you may want to skim through this and edit, or get an editor to do it for you. Just a suggestion.

But otherwise, S/FB- SPECTACULAR! Blew me away!

submitted by Mary W., age 11, Blown Away by y
(February 5, 2009 - 7:15 pm)

Thank you!  I need to work with my time thing in stories.  Actually, when I put my story on Cricket, lots of words did blend togehter.  They're not like that in my orginial story.  Again, Thank You!Innocent

submitted by Fire Bird
(February 7, 2009 - 3:17 pm)


submitted by Sam M, age 12, Saline, MI
(February 1, 2009 - 11:59 am)

I guess so. Mostly what's put in my plot file are the ones that I don't want to start work on, since I'm already working on too many stories. I've also pretty much dropped work on all my stories except for my furthest along, and also, oddly, my newest. 

By the way, Fire Bird, you have what's her name, the computer girl's, parents dying in two different ways. The first time she mentions they die in a fire, and the second time, it's different. Also, the whole thing needs more spaces and punctuation. I like the plot line though. It's a very interesting idea. Just needs some reviewing. 

submitted by Starfire
(February 2, 2009 - 2:53 pm)

Maria's Parents die in the fire.  Rachel's parents die in a car crash. OK sorry for the misunderstandingWink

submitted by Fire Bird
(February 3, 2009 - 3:25 pm)

I think I know who this is, but here are some tips:

1. Use everyday ideas.  For the beginning of each of my stories, i start out with every day sayings.  Like three friends making fun of each other.

2. Don't think it about it too much.  Let the writing come to you.  Think about something else, and let the idea come to you.

3. Never, ever, spend all your time fretting over it.  Yeah, go to it every hour or so, but leave it to come naturally.

This is all I can say.  I hope you get out of it soon!

submitted by Leah G., age 12, Saline, MI
(February 3, 2009 - 5:34 pm)

Hola, Leah.  How do you like my story???? *GRINS*

submitted by Sam M, age 12, Saline MI
(February 3, 2009 - 7:18 pm)