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Milli Thornton

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Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers
by Milli Thornton   

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Publisher:  The Word Nerd ISBN-10:  1591098181 Type: 


Copyright:  2nd Edition: June 27, 2003 ISBN-13:  9781591098188

Books & Java Bookstore
Fear of Writing ... putting the fun back into writing!

Fear of Writing is for writers (including closet writers!) who experience a familiar thud in the pit of the stomach when they visualize sitting down to write.

The process of learning to flow is demystified, and a triage of fun is applied to heal the old writing scars.

Through short stories about fictional characters with fear of writing, you'll realize you're not alone. Through writing exercises known as Fertile Material, you'll learn the skills you need to have F-U-N with writing . . . even if you've never written a story before!

Fear of Writing - buy it today for $13.99

If your creative dreams are still in the closet . . . or you feel you’ve lost your spontaneity in an effort to fit into the publishing system . . . or you just want to put some fun back into your creativity . . .

. . . then find out how writers and “closet writers” have ignited (or re-ignited) their passion for creativity using this little-known method. 

Author of "Fear of Writing," Milli Thornton - Photo Copyright © July 2007 Brian Williams

From the Desk of Milli Thornton

Dear Writer or Closet Writer,

Since you've ended up here, chances are, you've searched the Internet for something a little different. Maybe you weren't even really sure what that “something different” was.

As one visitor put it:

“I found the information on your site quite intriguing and I began to wonder if I qualified as someone who actually had a 'Fear Of Writing.' Even now, I am not sure. In fact, I've been trying to determine if I have a Fear of Writing, or if I actually have a Greater Fear of Not Writing.

“Regardless of how my current blocked situation is viewed, I know for a fact that I am tired of NOT being a writer. I am frustrated with my reluctance to pick up pen and paper or sit down at my keyboard. I am angry with myself for finding that I currently prefer to 'have written' than 'to write.'

“Can you help free me from these demons? Can your book and course unlock these chains?”

It turns out that this visitor, Walt Nickell, does feel that Fear of Writing has helped him. You can use the 60-second survey below to find out if it might also help you. 


Milli, you cannot imagine how much positive impact you have had on me, my writing, and I’m sure, tons of other people!
—Sandy Fleming, Pipe Creek, Texas


My goal in this letter is to let you know how my book can help you. You can know right away whether you’re in the right place by using these questions.

Have you ever . . .

. . . longed to write a story but felt you had nothing to write about? 

. . . heard a voice inside your head telling you your writing sucks?

. . . felt your creative writing was a chore (“I'd rather clean the oven or mow the lawn”) instead of fun?

. . . had your writing painfully critiqued by a well-meaning person and felt the passion go out of your creativity?

. . . studied lots of books on writing and publishing—but the more you do, the more the fun goes out of it? 

. . . felt overshadowed by the achievements of other writers

. . . felt haunted by this question: “There are millions of short stories and books in the world—who cares if I write anything?”

Or, on a slightly different note . . .

Do you know someone who would dearly love to take up writing but has been too intimidated to try? 

If even a single question on the above list speaks to you, then my book can help you.

The name of the book is Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers.


Fear of Writing does not promise to show you how to write a novel, find an agent or get published. The Fear of Writing method is designed to take you back to something more primal . . . joy in your creativity.

We all secretly wish we hadn’t forgotten how to play. We watch kids playing and wonder how we ever got so far from something that real. Fear of Writing DOES PROMISE to show you how to recapture that kind of joy and fun.

This method is active, not passive—and that makes all the difference to you.

Wait. To be more specific, part of it IS passive, because you get to relax and read entertaining and emotionally liberating stuff (more on that in a moment).

But this wouldn’t be a helpful book for your creativity unless you actually write something yourself. This book provides 112 ways for you to quickly, easily and painlessly start writing—and you can also use these 112 ways more than once for different results.

So, the sky’s the limit! Now you can use that enticing new notebook you’ve been too busy (or too nervous) to crack open.

112 easy ways to start writing . . . and that can easily translate into a year’s worth of material for your creativity. A group in Santa Fe has used this method on a weekly basis for almost three years and still never exhausted the possibilities.

Or the fun.

I'm still so amazed at how the Fear of Writing method WORKS for me. I can write creatively and leave my stuffy old left brain out of it!
—Sandy Schairer, Tijeras, New Mexico,
author of Extremely Short Stories for Busy People

 Jenn Martin, O'ahu, Hawai'i - Photo Used With Permission

Just read your first chapter last night, and you were speaking directly to me! If my fiancee hadn't been sleeping I would have shouted, “That is SO me!” I'm sure that is SO a lot of people, and I'm not the first to tell you that, but I just had to say thanks!
—Jenn Martin, O'ahu, Hawai'i


In five years of running writing workshops, weekly writing circles and online forums, I’ve never seen this method not work. Recently, a 79-year-old man came to the Fear of Writing Clinic with no previous creative writing experience. All he'd ever written since his school days was office memos. He came to the clinic because he was bored with retirement. After trying the Fertile Material writing prompts and sharing his newly-written stories with the group, the other workshop participants LOVED his writing. The feedback ranged from “Was that a true story?” (. . . it wasn’t, he was just using the vivid imagination we were all born with . . . ) to “Jim, if you don’t keep writing, you’re crazy!”

But you don’t need the Fear of Writing Clinic to show you how to use this method. The book gives all the ground support you'll need to unleash yourself into the stratosphere. One woman from Texas described it this way:


The Fertile Material exercises motivated a creative area in my brain that was lying dormant. One minute I was staring at the title of the exercise—the next thing I know I was shaking the pain out of my hand from writing five pages.
—Marlena Dammé, San Antonio, Texas 

Everyone suffers from the occasional onset of fear if not full blown writers' block. I offer FEAR OF WRITING as a remedy every time.
—Carolyn Howard-Johnson, instructor for UCLA Extension's renowned Writers' Program and founder of Authors' Coalition


The book is designed to deliver both active fun (112 irresistible writing prompts) and invisible emotional healing—for any writing scars you may have accumulated along the way. You’ll find that a certain rhythm comes with it. This is to strike a balance between absorbing the “good medicine” (without having to do anything but read), and actually getting some writing done yourself so the healing is complete.

Part of the “Passive Zone” includes four short stories that have been known to subconsciously work healing magic on the reader.

Based on my own intimate knowledge of fear of writing, I cooked up four memorable characters and threw them in the fear of writing cauldron. These characters first suffer deeply in rather creative ways, and then—just when you think they're completely doomed—they burn through to writing freedom.

Paw print from the Home Page of

The story “Worm Medicine,” with images I will never forget, made the point real—personal—alive and breathing. Afterwards, I went through and in a few hours fixed the corner I’d painted myself into with my novel. Woohoo!
—BJ Apostol, Santee, California

I’d been battling a case of writer’s block ever since the terrorist attack on September 11. Each word needed to be squeezed out of me like lemon juice, and when it hit the page it was just as sour. And then I read “Jack’s House.” Every obstacle Helen encountered, every fear she had, every thought she had, paralleled my own troubles so completely I was stunned. I'd been terrified that my fiction was trivial, meaningless, and without purpose, but when I finished reading “Jack’s House” I understood what I needed to do. This was the miracle I’d been searching for. Thank you!
—Jennifer Turner, Stevens Pt., Wisconsin, author of Stark Knight, Silent Knight, My Biker Bodyguard, and other titles, published after Fear of Writing helped Jenny understand that she already had what it takes to succeed 


Many of the writers and closet writers I've worked with over the past five years have felt slowed down by one kind of fear or another about their writing: fear of getting started, fear of finishing, fear of failure, even fear of success—the list goes on.

That's why the Fear of Writing method uses a completely “irrational” approach (fun and spontaneity) that works on you before your logical mind has a chance to ruin things. And then, with this new energy injected into your creativity, you can go on to learn (or continue) the kind of writing you most want to do.

But that will never happen unless you get started. Every one of the people who've used this method—including the ones who've gone on to get published—took the plunge, read the book, and used the exercises. And they found it so much fun that it took the bogey-man out of writing and made it something attainable.

That can be true for you also, but only if you act on your creative desires. So, what are you waiting for? Jump in and taste the adventure!


Milli Thornton

P.S. Using this method, you don't need any previous experience as a writer to get started. The emphasis is on fun and creativity—not good grammar or literary plums-in-the-mouth.

P.P.S. On the other hand, if you're an experienced writer you can still gain all the benefits of the freshness and fun of this approach. As J.R. Turner, author of Stark Knight, said: “One great thing about the Fertile Material is that I can take a break from a longer piece (such as one of my novels) and have some real fun! But the best part about the exercises is that each story can be saved and worked on again later—either as a novel or as a story that might be worth submitting to a magazine or writing contest.” 


I’ve studied hundreds of books on writing. This book has proven to be the best investment ever.
—D’Arcy Mayo, professional writer, Sydney, Australia

Milli's techniques are so friendly and non-frightening. . . . The book is very laid-back, conversational, and downright funny! Even the cover picture of the dog holding a match to his manuscript makes me laugh every time I look at it. The exercises are fantastic—they wind up your imagination and let it go and then wonderful things happen.
—Susan Smith, San Antonio, Texas

“I’ve had loads of fun doing the Fertile Material exercises!”

—Dena Harris, Madison, North Carolina, author of Lessons In Stalking ... Adjusting to Life With Cats

Milli's book contains 112 creative writing prompts known as the Fertile Material. The idea is to have fun and let your creative imagination go wild.

The book provides tips for writers on how to use the Fertile Material, but these prompts will unleash you even with no prior instruction. You can get started right this minute.


Go ahead! Pick a writing prompt and let your creative imagination go wild.

Remember, there's no rule that says you have to use every detail given in the prompt. Just let it trigger your imagination and see where it takes you. You can write a short story or just a story fragment. The main idea is to have fun with it.


Roach Lover
You are a cockroach sympathizer giving a speech at a rally for animal rights.

As Juicy as They Come
Your spouse is addicted to mangoes—that slurping sound drives you wild and makes you want to kill.


Play Big
You are a musician in a sought-after jazz band. Your name is Clarence and you travel with the band for six months of every year playing concert halls and jazz festivals. How old are you? Give the band a name. Choose your instrument. Portray the other band members and the feeling you get when you play together. Eleanor, a high fashion model, is interested in one of you. She has wiles and she uses them. Will the band survive her foxy tricks and secretive smile?


You’re out hiking in the mountains. Some shale slips under your feet, and suddenly you’re sliding down a steep embankment. Describe how you feel as you slide. It’s a rough landing and you are injured. How do your companions react? Are you calm or upset? Is your speech lucid? You need help right away. How can the nearest Search & Rescue team be notified? When they do arrive, how do you feel about your rescuers? Describe how how they bring you to safety. What effect does this mishap have on your life?

Excerpted from Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers by Milli Thornton Copyright © 1999

Professional Reviews

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson (Authors Den author & book reviewer)

So, you’re a writer. Maybe you have trouble admitting it at a party. Or to yourself. Maybe you don’t feel like a writer because a bad case of the block has got you. Milli Thornton’s Fear of Writing to the rescue!

There simply is no way a writer can read this book without stumbling over a reflection of themselves somewhere in its pages. No way one could come away from it without improving her image of herself as a writer, without some new ideas to write about and without actually doing some writing.

If you are so blocked that you don’t believe this, Milli Thornton will take care of that. Her exuberance—her pure force of will—will see to it not only that you read Fear of Writing but that you also read it right. That is, you must pause to do the exercises which she calls (aptly) Fertile Material. And if you but think of sitting back on your laurels for having gone this far, her enthusiasm will propel you forward.

This book is not a big book in size. However, it will consume you and consume some time as well. The author advises that you read it during the daytime when you can write, not before bed when your natural tendency to snooze might interfere with your resolve. Be assured, though, nothing will interfere with Milli’s determination. She will make you into an active writer and probably a better writer. All you must do is give her a chance.

Readers will note that I gave this book a five star rating. I believe in rating a book on content. Rating one any other way is rather like judging a book by its cover or by the press on which it was printed. To be sure, this little book could use some sprucing up in its next edition. Please don’t wait to read it until then. Put aside a writer’s natural tendency to stall over formatting or other details and dig in. Milli Thornton’s book is not about the fine art of making a beautiful book, it’s about the special art of vibrant writing—something she knows much about.

Reviewed on Inside the Marketing Mind, a blog by Neil Tortorella

Neil is a veteran graphic designer and marketing consultant with over 30 years' experience. His focus these days is helping independent professionals and small businesses in the creative services sector communicate better with their audiences.

Fear of writing getting to you? Here's a cure.

Most of you who are regular readers of this blog are probably pretty aware that I’m big on writing as a promotional tool. But, I’ll venture a guess that many of you didn’t major in English and the thought of writing an article, white paper or blog scares the heck out of you. “Oh geez, is it ‘who’ or ‘whom?’” “”Hmmm ... this seems to be a participle predicament.” “Oh no! My predicate is dangling.” “Does this even make sense?”

Well, you’re in luck. I’m just finishing reading, Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers, by Milli Thornton (Word Nerd Press). It’s a great piece of paperback to help ease your fears and rev up the Shakespeare lurking within. If you’re a professional writer, novice or just a hobbyist, you’re bound to find many useful tidbits to break the block, jump start your creativity and enjoy writing again.

Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers isn’t about crafting a sentence that would put a gleam in your eighth grade teacher’s eye. It’s not about grandiose grammar or spot-on spelling. It’s about fun.

Milli’s done an excellent job developing a process called, “Fertile Material.” This “Fertile Material” is a collection of 112 exercises weaved within pages filled with stories, anecdotes and insights. It’s a liberating method to get your creative juices flowing and actually start writing.

Although the book is geared primarily toward fiction writers and novelists, the concepts will likely help anyone interested in writing – whether it’s that book idea that’s been in the back of your mind, or an article to help position you as an expert in your field. Odds are, it will even help perk up your proposal writing so your clients will actually enjoy reading them.

If you’re interested in jump starting your writing, Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers is an excellent investment to help you on the way.

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