With a Little Help from my Friends

In your work, or with your hobbies…do you ever find yourself stuck in a rut?

I tend to hit that spot with every book I write. There comes a point, say 2/3 of the way through the writing of it, that I just get stuck. Stagnant. Can’t write another word to save my life.

I hate those moments.

I’ve tried plotting more, spending more time getting to know my characters and their motivations and how they act before I start writing, hoping that that will help me avoid that dark moment where the words just won’t come. It hasn’t helped.

I’ve tried plotting less, allowing myself to be what, in the writing world, we call a pantser. I’ve tried waiting to see how my characters might surprise me. That hasn’t helped either.

It seems that, no matter what I do before I start writing, no matter how well prepared I am to barrel my way through the manuscript and get to the end, there is no way for me to avoid hitting this awful place where the words just freeze up and my fingers stop moving forward over the keys, and the screen no longer shows new words coming out.

No matter how I look at it, those moments are pretty scary.

And just trying to force myself through them? Yeah, that doesn’t work. I try to write, and I put 15 words on the page, and then I delete 1000 words. Not a good plan for moving forward, when all you do is move backward.

No, the only way I’ve found to get myself out of those slumps, those points where I can’t seem to make the words come, seems to be that I have to resort to using my friends for help.

I’ve met up with some of my critique partners or other friends who write, and we’ll sit down and have a plotting session. They’ll give me a new idea, something I hadn’t thought of before, and the next thing I know my mind is taking that single idea and transforming it into countless others. Other times, I’ll send out an email to some of them. What does it say? “I’m stuck. I can’t write anything. I need help.” Something along those lines.

When I do that, invariably they’ll introduce me to the idea of starting on a new project–something that gets my creativity flowing again–or they’ll give me a kick in the pants, or whatever else it is that I need in order to make the words flow again.

I haven’t hit that terrifying moment in my current work-in-progress yet…but I know it’s coming. Luckily, I now have an arsenal of tools in my toolbox, ready for me to deploy so I can combat it. It’s not going to tackle me this time.

Maybe someday, I’ll be able to find a way to just get through the whole manuscript without hitting a slump.

Do you have a similar problem in your work, where all of a sudden you’re just stuck? How do you get past it? And if you write, how do you avoid getting to those points where you’re just stuck?



Filed under writing

2 responses to “With a Little Help from my Friends

  1. Yep it happens, even in short stories. Dometimes having multiple projects works. Find an open anthro and get away from your WIP. This might help.

  2. I walk on the green and talk to my characters. Sadly, it probably does look like I’m talking to myself. But it usually helps.

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