UGH! Now What

March 5, 2020

BY Ellen Hoil

So, you’ve started your new writing project. Congratulations! Whether it is your first or your fifth.

You’ve been busy working on it and your ten chapters in. You’re on a roll, and then something happens. Suddenly you’re at t dead stop. Ugh. What do you do now?

To be honest, I have no clue. Well not a very sound one. You could ask a hundred authors wheat the trick is to getting out of the slump is and you will get fifty-five different answers.

I’m going to talk about the ones I’ve found helpful for me. I hope you find them at the least interesting, and at the most a creative revelation. Well, maybe not that far.

The earliest one I learned was to step away from whatever you are working on. Taking a break from your project can give you time to roll around the various ways you want to move forward, or chose where you want to end up or go next. I will find my head filled with various scenes and find it helps me to pick out one or two I want to play with. I may then craft a chapter scene outline. Nothing formal, but a narrative of what I envision happening next.

Another aid was told to me by several writer friends. If you have a vague idea of what you want the characters to say, then write their dialogue. Have them sit at a table and talk. No punctuation, no tags, nothing but line after line of conversation. Maybe something they say along the way clicks in your head and gets you moving again. It may be in a whole new direction, but it is movement.

A different method could be as simple as putting on some music, lying on the couch, and letting the characters wander around your mind. Some authors put together playlists for when they write. I listen to background music. But, when I’m stuck, I go with a little ‘70’s light music, since I’m that old.

But what do you do when none of the above works and you feel like deleting it all? Don’t! Instead, send it to a trusted cohort or beta reader. Get a second opinion, and maybe brainstorm a little. Writing may be a solo practice, but it doesn’t have to be done in a vacuum. Join a group of writers and readers. They are all over the internet and relatively easy to find some in your genre. When you feel comfortable and trusting, share if you’re up to it. Get recommendations, ask questions. But don’t ever delete.

Last but not least, you can always distract yourself by writing a blog post.