While I am still in the process of editing (and soon self publishing!) my first book – Blue Violet – I am also in the process of writing the follow-on book – Hyacinth. A few nights ago while writing, I got utterly and completely stuck. I’m talking full on, dead-in-my-tracks, stuck. I honestly could not figure out how to get my characters from point A to point B, and what to do with either scene when we got there. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.
Hitting that wall called writer’s block is a horrible feeling. You start to plod through your writing. The day before I knocked out ten pages in about an hour, and now I could barely get a paragraph out in the same amount of time. I’ve hit this wall many times before. This wall has stood in my way on countless other book writing attempts resulting in failure. Until I completed Blue Violet, I honestly worried that I would never, ever finish a book. That it just wasn’t in me.
If I have learned anything, it’s that writing is a process as well as a passion. When I get stuck, I have discovered the following techniques that aid me in getting un-stuck:
Getting Your Writing Un-Stuck
1. Push Through It
I have a goal to write at least one page a night. I find that using that as a rule and pushing through, even if I eventually go back and re-write all of it, often gets me past the sticky point.
2. Skip It& Come Back
Sometime getting back in the rhythm takes a little inspiration. If you’re stuck on one part, go write a different part. Something you’ve been noodling on and just waiting to sink your teeth in to tends to be best. Come back to the sticky part later. Inspiration can follow you from one section to another.
Going back through what I’ve already written and starting to perfect it can often clarify a point I had forgotten or was still fuzzy on. Sometimes that discovery ends up being exactly what I needed to get me unstuck. Or sometimes editing inspires a new idea or direction – yet another solution.
4. Map It Out
Frequently I find myself lost in the journey of my writing because I don’t know where I’m going. By doing a little outlining, determining the frame of the story moving forward, even if it’s just the next few scenes, it gets me out of my sticky mess.
For whatever reason, I do all my best thinking when I’m running. This is true if I’m working out a problem for work, for home, for my kids… or for writing. My mind clears and ideas solidify. Find the activity that does that for you – cooking? yoga? shopping? –and then go do that when you are in a dead-lock. It blows away the cobwebs.
In previous attempts at writing a book, as soon as I hit the wall I would get discouraged… just one more book I wasn’t going to finish. Now that I’ve completed one, I know I can do it again. Reminding myself of that fact helps me to get through the sticky days.
In the case of a few days ago, I applied techniques 1, 5, and 6. I had a huge breakthrough on my run allowing me to not only figure out what I wanted to do in the current scene, but leading to a litany of ideas for a subsequent three to four new scenes. I actually achieved a much faster pace during that run in my excitement to get home and get it mapped out on paper.
I am a relatively new writer – and still developing my “tried and true” technique. I would love to hear what methods my fellow authors use when they hit these points in their writing. I’m always looking for new ways to get out of the quick sand.