The TENNIS BALL Under the RADIATOR: When the Creative Process Gets Stuck

photo 2When it’s cold outside, our dog loves nothing more than an indoor game of fetch. But though we all do our best to toss the ball strategically, it invariably ends up wedged under one of the many radiators in our old house. Sometimes I wonder if Sophie deliberately rolls the ball under there.  The point is – it ends up wedged beneath radiators an awful lot.

Like Sophie’s tennis ball, sometimes my creativity gets stuck under the radiator of writer’s block or the baseboard of problematic plot issues. But, like Sophie, I’ve learned from experience how to extract the ball of creativity so the game of writing can continue.

Now, in celebration of Sophie and tennis balls and fetch, here are four strategies she (and I) use to get “unstuck”.


1. Keep pawing until it budges. For Sophie this means getting staying focused, head down, rear up, paws under the radiator until the tennis ball bounces free.  For me it means staying focused, trying different things, pen in hand until I make a creative breakthrough.

2. Find another toy. For Sophie this means playing fetch with her stuffed turtle for a while. For me it means taking a break from the stuck project and working on something else instead.

3. Bark for help. For Sophie this means making a ruckus until someone comes and gets that tennis ball moving again. For me this means reaching out to a trusted critique partner to give me honest feedback on what’s not working and to offer encouragement to keep going.

4. Learn to avoid the radiator. Sophie’s not very good at this, but it’s still good advice. For me it means taking time to figure out how my story got stuck under the radiator in the first place, then learning from my mistake so that the next time I find my writing rolling in that direction, I catch and redirect the ball of creativity before it gets stuck.

Woof!  That’s all I have for today.  Happy writing and may you enjoy the process – radiators and all!


6 thoughts on “The TENNIS BALL Under the RADIATOR: When the Creative Process Gets Stuck

  1. I always knew we doggies were smart. We have more to teach our humans than cuddling and hiking and loyalty and love, love, love. Well done, Sophie.

    Love and licks,

  2. For one of my kitties it is the twisties (those strips that you use to close bags) that he loses under, well, everything.
    Good analogy for getting stuck, except that for the twisties I haven’t persuaded Mr. Cat to avoid his lose’em spots.

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