Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting Unstuck

So I promised you guys I would give you more explanation on my past few busy days and onto my being stuck in Mortality. (That was a poorly worded sentence, but I can't seem to think of a better way to say it. Meh.)


I think I'll forgo the busy days explanation and get right to the stuck.

As writers, we all get stuck. Whether you're a pantser or a plotter, a newbie or an old pro, it happens. Maybe not for every book, sometimes for every scene. When you get stuck can often tell you why you get stuck.

So if you find you get stuck often, try to look at where you are, what you are doing, whether writing related or not, and see if there are any similarities.

One reason that I often get stuck is because I don't know what's going to happen next. I assume that this is the same for most pantser's out there. I know where I'm at and I know the end, but what happens in the interim?

  • To solve this, try sitting down and writing out how the characters may react, what choices they have, and how others would react to those choices. Often listing that out, I've found, will tell me what happens next. 
  • Other times, if you really don't know how they would react, you have to go back and maybe pick a different action/reaction. This can cause major rewrites, but for the moment, move what you change to a new file and continue on as if it never happened. You never know what may come in handy later.
  • If you are REALLY stuck, you may want to rethink your story from the beginning. Do the events happening in the beginning naturally lead to the end? If not, you either need to change those events, or the ending. 
Another time that I get stuck, is when I start realizing just how BAD my writing is. And there are those times. It's a first draft after all. I assume that these times happen for newbies as well as old pro's as well. This is what has happened here for me most recently. My writing sucks. So I began reading books on writing. (You know those free books for the kindle in that post a couple months back? Yeah, I finally got around to reading them. Most of them are really good.) That was a poor decision. 

  • My one tip, DON'T go reading books on how to Write, or how to plan, or how to anything. The only thing I got from those books that would help me, would be to start over. I can't start over. My mother would kill me. She's been waiting for me to finish this since I made the mistake of letting her read some of it. 
  • Also, DON'T go back and edit. No matter how much you may want to, the most important thing at this point (if it's a first draft, if it's not, this doesn't apply to you) is to FINISH. Work through it and just get to the end. Once you have a whole novel you can then hack it to pieces and fix what's broken.
  • HOWEVER, I would take the time and sit down and talk to your characters. (See my Characters on Couches blog posts. Another one may be coming soon). See if they have any input on the plot, or the way things are going. Sometimes, you get a big shock. (Again, see my Characters on Couches blog posts)
Sometimes, life gets in the way. I've been depressed. I've been over worked. I've been tired. I've been sick. These are the times that are often both the easiest and the hardest to break through. 

  • When you're sick, sometimes the only thing you can do is take it easy and get better. Depending on the type of sick, sometimes I can write during it, sometimes I sleep all day and all night just trying to get better. 
  • When you're tired, sometimes the only thing you can do is rest. However, there have been many time's I have put off going to bed to get something written. For me, it doesn't matter how little or how much I get written. 
  • Overworked can go in the same category as tired. But when I'm overworked, there is always SOME time somewhere that you can get some writing done in. It may not be the best, but for a first draft, very little is going to be the best. 
  • Depressed... That one's a little harder. I've fought depression, and always needed help dragging myself out of the muck. That's what friends are for, good friends. Basically, you have to solve the depression before you can get writing again. At least for me. I wrote a lot of your typical teenager poetry during that time. I think I've since burned them. 
Anyway, I hope this helps you get unstuck! 

If you have anything else, either reasons you get stuck or ways to get unstuck, discuss in the comments! 

Thanks, as always, for reading, and have a great day!


  1. Good tips! One I also found works for me (but not everyone; my editor goes nuts when I do this) is when I get stuck on a scene, to go start writing a different one. This is one reason I love Scrivener so much, is I can do this without causing too many problems. As I'm writing the other scene, it might be further ahead in the plot than where I am, but if my characters are making noise over there, why not go join them? It can help me look back on that scene I got stuck on, and figure out how to get from that point, to the point I just wrote. I make a few tweaks sometimes, to keep it consistent, but in the end I get the result I wanted: Progress.

    1. I literally *just* did this.

      Actually, it was a scene that happened BEFORE the one I'm stuck on, but still!