One thing writers are unfailingly good at—finding reasons not to write. Whether it’s lack of time, fear of hurting someone, being convinced every word is junk, blanking, experiencing writer’s block—you name it, we can come up with it. And here is another variant: you are writing but are stuck. That is, you faithfully put bum in chair but the results are discouraging.
Varieties of being stuck
This one even comes in variants on the theme.
The story isn’t going anywhere. You know where you want to take the plot but your writing feels meandering and worthless. You can’t seem to make it as exciting and involving as it should be.
What I’m doing isn’t working. You want to put across a feeling, an action, a meaning and what you’re doing isn’t cutting it. Maybe you don’t have the skill?
The next scene turns out flat and boring. Your mind is numbing just in reading the scene over. You need this incident to move the plot forward but you’re sure the reader will toss the book at this point. If you can’t stand it, how can your reader?
Thoughts of junking the whole thing are raising their ugly heads.
Remedy to being stuck
First of all, you know, this can be a form of writer’s block, so reread that post and see if any of the suggestions feel right.
Luckily, although there are a variety of ways of being stuck, there is a remedy which can help all forms.
Choose something exciting to write.
Might be a later part of the novel which will be fun to write. Might be an action scene just to see if it works for your characters. Whatever it is, pick something which will entertain you.
Then write it. Fully engage your right brain. Suppress or ignore any demons lurking and go for it. Don’t stop until you have either finished the scene or gotten back your mojo.
This often works for me because it forcibly reminds me why I love to write. It has the added advantage of taking you away from drudging on with a tedious but necessary scene or even one which, in the edit, you decide you don’t need.
Bad news—sometimes you’re stuck for good reason
The remedy suggested usually works but sometimes you are stuck because the novel really isn’t working. But don’t throw in the towel immediately.
I know that you feel that it isn’t working, but feelings can be unreliable companions. Great for writing, not so good for analysis. You need to let your left brain kick in. Write down where the problems are specifically. Might be too much background, too little, too much build-up, not enough, etc. Actually write them down. If you just think them, the feelings may take over the exercise.
With the list, decide how to fix the issues, including getting help for techniques or approaches you don’t know how to do.
Look over list and remedies. If you did that, would the novel start working for you? Now, this is different from this is a lot of work. It undoubtedly will be. I’ll address that in the next post. Right now, stick to would it be good with the fixes?