15 Ways to Get Unstuck

Aug 20, 2010

Writer’s block? Uh, no. Think around it…There’s ALWAYS a way. I’m serious. I’ve gone through weeks (and even months) when I felt like I “couldn’t write,” but half my battles were usually won if I tried a different angle…

Writer Linda Ford asked fellow fiction writers what they do to get going again, when they seem stuck. Here’s her compiled list of advice (with a few additions of my own):

  1. Always stop mid-sentence (not the kind of sentence that you can’t remember how it ends) or mid-scene (perhaps making a few notes on what happens next.) Then you’re ready to go when you sit down to write again.
  2. Use paper and pencil to get started. Writing in a different way may let the story flow.
  3. Interview the character and write down the answers.
  4. Go back and read what you’ve already written and fall in love with the story again.
  5. Play your way into “real” writing by checking email, doing updates, etc. (Although I can do this for several hours a day. I need to set a timer to keep a grip on it. –LTB)
  6. Play mental games. I’m just going to write a certain paragraph…read the last scene…write 500 words. Open the file and tell yourself you aren’t going to do anything overwhelming…only something little like has already been mentioned.
  7. “Free write” for 30 minutes. Anything. Just get words on the paper.
  8. Give yourself permission to take your time about starting. Do other things as your mind winds up to that point.
  9. Use Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method/scene sentences to plunge into the next one.
  10. Set a kitchen timer for 15-20 minutes and write anything you want to in the story (you can cut and paste later). Sometimes you have a scene that’s just burning to get onto paper…
  11. Brainstorm a list of 20+ things that have to happen in the story from the point where you stopped.
  12. Do a light edit on your previous scene, check your outline, and move into the next.
  13. Phone a writing friend and discuss your stories or commiserate about how hard it is to get the words flowing.
  14. Read nonfiction resources that relate to plot or characterization. A dip back into “research mode” can spur on new ideas that add interest and zip to your fiction (as well as a tinge of reality)
  15. Think of something very, very bad that must happen to your characters NOW. Write that scene and you won’t be able to stop until you get them back out of their crisis!
Picture at top is from micspics via iStockPhoto