BY DAKOTA LOVE
My writing journey began when I was a wee girl of four years old. I wrote a story about a Native American girl named White Lily as she and her family prepared to travel to their winter lodging grounds. From that one-page short story, I continued writing as I grew older, filling notebook after notebook with tales of fantastical realms, thrilling journeys to the stars, and tales of noble heroes who faced deadly hordes of enemies. But sometimes, inspiration would fail me, and I’d find myself staring at an empty page, and the words wouldn’t come no matter how hard I tried.
Being home educated, my awesome teacher was my mom. She gave me the freedom to explore different forms of writing and hone my skills. And when I hit a brick wall, I asked her how on earth to overcome the terrible curse of writer’s block.
She had a unique solution. ‘You just need to write a stump story!’ she declared. ‘That’s what to do when you get stumped.’
‘What should it be about?’ I asked her, my eyes wide.
‘Why, a STUMP, of course!’
I glared. Why on earth would writing a story about an actual stump help me solve which heroic adventure I should write about next? I stormed out of the room, and grabbed my notebook. Pencil in hand, I sulked as I stared at that taunting, empty page.
Rolling my eyes, I eventually gave in. At least this is better than doing long division, I thought to myself. And I wrote a choppy short story about an actual stump in the forest.
After writing that extremely odd story, I felt better. All the weird stuff cluttering my head was suddenly nonexistent, and I had a much clearer idea of what to write. So I began to write a story about a brave prince and his precocious little sister who got into trouble more often than not.
After a wonderful afternoon of writing, the sunlight was turning golden as it streamed through my windows. I got up and showed my ‘stump story’ to Mom and grudgingly admitted that it had helped a lot.
‘Sometimes, that’s all you need to do,’ Mom explained, then waited for me to finish.
‘It is,’ I agreed. ‘Because it helped me see that writing about my hero is a lot more fun than writing about that dumb old stump!’
I think we can all agree I was a handful.
But I’ve never forgotten that writing tip. Over the years, I’ve written a few stories about stumps, even doodling a stump as I tried to find inspiration for my new manga series. It was the best writing tip I’ve ever received: When you get writer’s block, write something, anything short and weird, and just let all the clutter get out of your head. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about an actual stump. But the old stump story has been a tried-and-true friend through all my years of writing.
About the Author
Dakota Love began her writing journey when she was only four years old.
Writing through school with the support of her family, Dakota tried many forms of
literature before falling in love with graphic novels. Her first series, The Allies: Family and Friends, debuted in 2017, followed by the Freedom’s Legacy historical fiction novels.
Dakota’s newest project, the manga series VALOR, celebrates the infinite diversity
of the United States. Dakota writes to preserve the past and inspire the future
through the power of the written word.
To see Dakota Love’s works, follow these links: