We’ve all experienced that horrible feeling of getting stuck. We had a perfectly good story idea, maybe we even got started writing it, but now we’re unable to make any progress. Maybe you call it ‘writer’s block’, maybe you’d describe it as feeling ‘lost’ as to where your story is going, or maybe for some reason it just seems impossible today to find the right words to string together in the correct order. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to being stuck, these three techniques to get your writing moving again are worth a try.
1. Write it out
Try “free writing” where the only rule is that your pen (or fingers on keyboard) need to be constantly moving and producing new text (no crossing out or deleting anything, either) for a set period of time (set yourself a time for five minutes or so before you start). You don’t need to be writing your story when you free write – you can stary by writing down the issue you’re grappling with, whether it’s “I can’t decide what my character should do next”, “I’m not clear what this story is really about” or even “I’m stuck”. Then just keep going, writing down whatever it is that your mind wanders to next. A good tip is to start by writing down a question (e.g. “What should my character do next?”) and take it from there. Because you’re not writing the actual story here, free writing helps to remove that ‘block’ because it removes the fear of writing down something that you think is a terrible idea. With free writing, you can write down all the terrible ideas, and one of them might just spark some good ideas.
2. Go for a walk
A change of scenery and some physical activity – whether it’s walking, running, or maybe something else that allows you to clear your mind, like swimming or biking – can help spark new thoughts about your novel. You can mull over the issue and explore possible solutions, and – as with free writing – let your mind wander and see what unexpected ideas you come up with. Thinking about a story instead of writing it can help you consider directions and possibilities that you’re not ready to commit to paper (or screen) yet, and open up solutions that didn’t seem feasible when you were at your desk.
3. Talk through it
There is nothing quite like sitting down with a fellow writer to discuss thorny writing problems. If you have good writer friends, they will know exactly what you’re going through and they will sympathize. They may be able to offer suggestions, or you may find that simply discussing whatever it is you’re stuck on will bring up new ideas. If none of your friends write, one option is to find a professional writing mentor who can ask you the right questions and help you work through the answers to arrive at a solution that’s right for your story.