What happens when you hit a wall with your writing? - Claire Scobie
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What happens when you hit a wall with your writing?

What happens when you hit a wall with your writing?

We’ve all been there. Those days when nothing seems to flow, when your words are wooden and your syntax is lifeless. Those days when you’re bored with writing. Sick of it. Even hate it.

I’ve been there too.

It’s like you’ve reached a dead end – or a brick wall. So how do you get passed?

Brick wall blocking the doorwayIf it’s a short project or an article…

  • Go back to your original brief. Open a new document; cut & paste the title or brief at the top of the page. Remember what you originally set out to do before you became lost in the mire.
  • Try writing a 10-minute blurt around the subject without looking at your notes. This might be enough to kickstart the process and give you another way into the story. If I’m really stuck on one section, I open a new document for that section. Somehow it’s easier without all the other wordage around it.
  • If not, do something practical. Have a walk, do the vacuuming, take a break.
  • Leave it overnight. When you come back to it, psychologically you should feel refreshed.
  • If you’re stuck at the beginning then try and write the middle – or the end.
  • Brainstorm your ideas. Talk to a friend. Mental floss – write everything you are feeling to remove the psychic clutter – then try and write again.
  • Bribe yourself. A coffee. Your favourite chocolate. A treat. But only if you finish the story.

If it’s a long writing project…

  • If you’ve been steaming away & have 30,000+ words written take a break – a few days, a few weeks. But before you stop try to reach a sensible ending & make a list of what you still need to do. During your break DO NOT look at it. If you have a brainwave, type it up or scribble it down elsewhere.
  • Then set aside time to print out what you’ve done & quietly re-read. With fresh eyes it’s often obvious where to go next. As you read, don’t judge your mistakes. Instead make notes on which parts can be tightened or what needs to be fixed.
  • Then refer to your list and work out if it is still relevant. Or make a new plan.
  • Open a new document (or project in Scrivener) and refreshed, start writing again.

If it’s novel…

  • For mini-blocks stop trying to figure everything out. If you begin with a plot, drop it. If you are sure you’re point-of-view is right, try something else. Keep the character but change the plan – and let the story evolve by itself.
  • Get out of your own way!

For major blocks in a novel… that’s a whole post.

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