Several years ago, while writing my fourth novel, I found myself completely stuck. I sat in front of my computer and realized that I had nothing. No words, no ideas. Zilch. Nada. Nil. The problem was that my deadline was less than a week away and I had, had, had to finish writing that story! Being the chill person I am, I started to freak out. I’m talking hyperventilating and sobbing and declaring my entire career irreparably damaged.

It was curtains for me—I was sure of it.

So, I sent a text to my agent, asking if I could pay back the advance and crawl under a rock for the rest of eternity.

See? I’m a completely calm and rational critter.

My agent sent back this text: “Put the kids in the van and go get some ice cream. Then get back to it.”

Being one easily tempted by ice cream, I scooped my three darlings up, tossed them into the minivan, and treated us all to cones of creamy delight.

When I got back home and sat at my computer, the words started to flow once more.

Was the ice cream magic? Well, maybe. But I think the charm really was found in getting away from the work for a spell and letting my mind focus somewhere else for a bit. My poor little brain needed a rest. And some sprinkles. And a little whipped cream.

If you find yourself struggling today (or someday in the future), maybe get a little ice cream. Or coffee. Or some fresh air. Let your brain take a little bit of a nap.

Then get back to it.


Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA best-selling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, and Stories That Bind UsThe Nature of Small Birds, and other novels. Her latest title, The All-American, releases in July. Susie and her husband have three children and live in Western Michigan. Learn more at

Susie will be one of five presenters in the “What I’ve Learned” coaching class and mentor at the upcoming 2023 Cascade Christian Writers Conference June 25-28. Susie will also teach three afternoon workshops: “When the Well Runs Dry,” “Researching Your Mid-Century Novel,” and “Pitch-Perfect Voice.” For more information about the OCW Cascade Christian Writer’s Conference, visit our conference page.