Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What To Do When You're Stuck....

I'm getting down to the last bits of editing, so it's been a bit slow recently in the writing department. I know I must not be the only one who gets stuck every once in awhile. Particularly if you are Nanowrimo right now, I imagine the chance that you'll feel stuck at some point is pretty high. So I'm compiling a list of things to do when you're stuck in the editing process, or in general.

1. Read what you have so far out loud. Sometimes this helps me hear the story in a different way and jumpstarts ideas that I haven't thought of so far.

2. Write in hand with pen and paper. I've actually found this pretty useful when I'm trying to rewrite the beginning of my novel... (again) and need to break away from the old beginnings. There are studies, (although I can't name them, but still mentioning the word "studies" makes me sound smart,) that show the experience of writing in hand versus the experience of typing on a computer is a different experience. So if you're stuck, try this.

3. Write three 'What if's'. If you're stuck or feel in the editing process that something isn't right, take that particular point in the story and write down three what ifs that could expand by that point. What if the main character suddenly makes a very bad decision? Sometimes I find that this will help get me writing if I'm in a dry spell.

4. Take your characters to a new setting. I've heard this one from other Nanowrimo's. If you feel the current scene or thread is sagging with your characters, take them to a completely different place. This happened to me one year when my ghost mystery characters were really getting boring. They just kept having scene after scene of talking without much action. I finally took them to the museum for the day. The main character got sucked into paintings by ghosts, and things started getting interesting again. (Note: that was also the only year that I won nanowrimo.)

5. Take a walk, clean the house, go running, or take a shower. Sometimes doing something else is the only way to get unstuck. If you're crazy like me, you'll go running up and down the stairs in your building to generate ideas and possibly some calf muscles while you're at it. Even taking a walk and focusing on something else for a couple minutes is sometimes even to jumpstart the brain.

Good luck to all my friends doing nanowrimo. I'm rooting for you! You'll have to excuse me while I go bury myself under editing. See you on the other side.


  1. Those are all on my list for when I get stuck, but I have another terrible trick: if I get too stuck on something, I'll skip a scene and try one that comes later in the novel. Sometimes that helps.

  2. I go out with the camera. Sometimes looking for visual art helps me find the written kind.

  3. New settings can be amazing. The screenwriting profs I know all say that new writers put everyone in cafes. :)

  4. I do all of those, all but sticking them in a new location. My favorite place to think is driving in the car with some music playing.

  5. Greetings, earthling!! Gottawannalemme run back to the Elysian Fields soon, but take anything and everything you wanna from our wonderfull, plethora-of-thot to write the next, great masterpeace -if- I can but kiss your gorgeous, adorable feets and/or cuddle withe greatest, ex-mortal-girly-ever to arrive in Seventh Heaven. Think about it. Do it! Get back with me Upstairs, k? God bless you, doll: pleasure-beyond-measure is waiting in the Great Beyond for you and eye. Love you. PS: the musical term MORENDO means ‘dying-away in tone-and-time’. How verrry apropos for U.S. …thewarningsecondcoming.com