Day 5: What advice would you give for getting unstuck?

Imagine this: You’ve had an idea for a great novel forever. It’s creative, it’s compelling, and when you pitch it to your friends they seem to love the idea. You’re no stranger to writing, and nowadays there are so many different support networks out there that can help you get your novel written, so you think “Hey, why not? Let’s write this thing!”

So you sit down at your computer and you bang out a first draft, or part of a first draft, or some pages, and then… nothing… Maybe you’ve written yourself into a plot hole a mile wide… maybe you just can’t think of what should come next… maybe you find it’s more rewarding to outline and map out your story, but when you go to write it your fingers freeze and you find yourself unable to get the words out in the order you want them in.

Every writer gets stuck once in a while. Whether it’s because you’re just not sure how to fix a plot problem, or you’re too scared that you’re going to mess up your brilliant idea… we’ve all been there. Fixing the problem is easier, and harder, than you might think.

Here are some quick steps to help you get unstuck:

  1. Change focus. If you keep focusing on the problem at hand, you’re likely to bind yourself up in it. Stop. Breathe. And look somewhere else first.
  2. Keep writing! Just because you’re changing focus doesn’t mean you should stop writing. Just pick something else to work on for a little while. A short project, something to break up the block, to give you something else to think about for a little while.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. If the solution isn’t coming right away, don’t give yourself a hard time. Wait for it. It’ll present itself.
  4. Keep writing! I know I know, I already said that, but it’s so important. Do daily writing prompts. Post on your blog. Whatever it takes, keep words flowing from your fingers, even if it’s only for 15 minutes every day. Working on these smaller, less significant pieces will help oil the machine, and it will free up your mind to focus on your main manuscript without all the added pressure of “OMG I’m writing a novel and it has to be the best thing ever!”
  5. When the solution finally hits you, dive back in with gusto! This goes without saying. But relish the joy that writing brings you. And, if it doesn’t bring you joy, maybe consider doing something else!
What do you do when you’re stuck?