Sitting Down to Write: How to Start When You’re Stuck

We all know the feeling. You’ve got a scene in your head you want to write, but your brain isn’t working. Your fingers won’t cooperate. Maybe it’s your keyboard that has it out for you. Whatever the case, you can’t think. You want to start, but you’re stuck.

 

(I have gotten so much traction out of this gifset. I could use this in every post.)

Here are a couple of tricks I find really handy for that first half-hour when you’ve sat at your desk, opened your laptop or your notebook, and gone “… oh no.”

1. Make a list of sensory words to put you in the mindset of your scene.

What’s your character seeing? Hearing? Smelling? Touching? Say I’m writing a scene where my main character is running from a monster in a rainstorm. I might make a list like this:

mud, muck, slippery, splatter, pouring, shoes squelching, shivering, sheets of rain, buckets, splashed, slipped; snarling, slobbering, growling, thundering paws; spikes of lightning, blinding, flash, silver; panting, whimpering, skidding, falling, crashing

This’ll help you visualize the scene and get into the headspace.

Continue reading “Sitting Down to Write: How to Start When You’re Stuck”

3 Reasons We Get Writer’s Block — And How To Beat Them

It doesn’t exist.”

“It’s laziness.”

“It’s in your head.”

“What you need to do, is just start typing.”

The internet has a lot of opinions on writer’s block, from dismissing its existence entirely to ineffectively proscribing blind clacks at a keyboard as its remedy. For someone in the thick of the brain fog and creative stall that is writer’s block, I don’t think either of these mentalities — that what they’re going through isn’t real, or that all they need to do is just write something down — is really going to help, because I don’t think writer’s block is simply a matter of  mental fog or stubborn procrastination.

I think it comes from something far worse — and far easier to fix.

First off, what kind of writer’s block am I talking about? I don’t mean the beginning writer staring at a blank computer screen unable to think of anything to write a story about. That’s not really a writer’s block, that’s just a writer’s beginning. Writer’s block, to me, is when you’re entrenched deep in the middle of a manuscript, you were writing with great speed and excitement and quality, and then suddenly — you’re not. You can’t explain it, but you’re knee-deep in mud and either unable or unwilling to try and pull your feet out. You unconsciously avoid writing, you edit the same few paragraphs over and over, you look at the scenes you’ve yet to write and have no idea how to put them down in words. Your brain is mentally stalled, and you’re terrified, because you have no idea what you did wrong. To me, that’s writer’s block as I’ve experienced it, and, luckily, I’ve picked up a couple ways on how to break through it.

Every instance of writer’s block I’ve ever suffered through as stemmed from legitimate sources of concern, as far as novel-writing goes. Either:

  • I’ve gotten overwhelmed with what I’m doing
  • I didn’t plan well enough ahead, or
  • I’m not acknowledging that I’ve done something wrong

These realizations — that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, that you’ve written yourself into a fog you can’t see out of, or that something has gone amiss in your writing and you didn’t accomplish what you were trying to do — can stall a writer for weeks, or even months. Because these things feed on our insecurities as writers; they poke you in the ribs and whisper you weren’t ready anyway; you’re not good enough; you should give up. Ignore that little voice. Everyone gets overwhelmed, everyone could’ve planned better, and everyone makes mistakes.

So let’s look at each of these problems and how to fix them.

Continue reading “3 Reasons We Get Writer’s Block — And How To Beat Them”

Countdown to NaNoWriMo: 5 Ways to Keep Your Writing FUN

Whether you’re a pantser or a planner, whether you’ve got a story about to spill out of you or are dearly hoping that one springs to life as you put pen to page November 1st, there are going to be moments throughout NaNoWriMo where you feel stuck. Uninspired. Unmotivated. Like every word written is another plodding footstep in a trudge through thick mud. Fight it. Get excited! When you’re telling a story, you’re not just entertaining your readers — you’re entertaining yourself! Here are 5 ways to keep writing fun and keep yourself interested in your NaNo novel:

1. Look At the Scene From A New Perspective

If a scene’s getting boring, write it from a different point of view. Or, for Expert Mode, write it from a completely random point of view. 

Try telling your scene from the perspective of an old man on the street corner, watching your main characters argue. Or maybe show the turns of action by following a dog wending through legs and under tables and straight through the scene. You could even write a whole scene from the perspective of a pen on the table  — how it keeps getting passed around as your character makes notes, handled roughly as they scribble in the margins with frustration, thrown back on the table with a clatter as the character shoves back his chair and storms outside. If a scene’s giving you trouble looking at it straight on, screw it! Look at it sideways or upside down! Who says you have to be in your main character’s head all the time? Be creative, and have fun! Continue reading “Countdown to NaNoWriMo: 5 Ways to Keep Your Writing FUN”