7 Ideas To Get Unstuck When You’re Writing


Ok, I recently had an email exchange with a friend about what I do when I get stuck in my writing.

Here’s some things that help me:

  1. Examine the reason you’re stuck.
    Sometimes it’s some other little thing nagging at the back of your mind, and it’s something you need to deal with before your brain can get all creative and writerly. Personal example: If there’s a job around the house that I know needs to be done, sometimes that job will pop back into my head several times an hour, and I won’t be able to focus on writing until the job has been done.
  2. Read something creative/inspiring.
    When I start a decent book, I usually can’t focus on writing until I finish it, but I’m a pretty fast reader and it never takes more than a few days. I always seem to have a few more good ideas after I finish something moving/passionate (think American revolution, not bodice-ripper)/ creative.
  3. Drill down story ideas.
    Sometimes it helps to define what I’m going to write better and better until actual fiction starts coming out. For example, I might start with an idea: Corbin get’s kicked out of his apartment building. Then I drill it down – Corbin finds his apartment ransacked, then he pisses of Andy, then he gets kicked out. I might expand on part of it like this: Corbin calls Andy a couple of names. Corbin ignores Andy’s command. Corbin spits in Andy’s face. Usually when I keep drilling it down like this, ideas for dialogue start forming. Maybe the sequence of events starts changing.
  4. Get good sleep.
    I can’t focus on anything when I’m running (and writing) on fumes. Writing early morning and late night doesn’t make too much difference to me, as long as I’m not sleepy.
  5. Exercise.
    Even though I haven’t been in fantastic shape for a while, during periods of time where I’m exercising 10 or 15 minutes a day I feel better and think more clearly. Writing comes easier.
  6. Set deadlines and announce them to the world.
    This is probably the only reason I ever finished Oasis. I told a bunch of folks that every Friday there would be a new chapter, and after that, I was pretty good. When I wasn’t, my real life friends gave me a hard time. Sometimes, I’ll just crank out something crappy based on my drilled down notes and hope inspiration hit during editing.
  7. Listen to some music.
    Exciting classical music really get my brain turning over. When I’m writing, it usually doesn’t help me to listen to stuff with words, as my head just starts to sing along. Here’s some examples of the type of music I’m talking about:

What do you do when you get stuck?

p.s. Sorry about the delay on Chapter 2. I’m stuck, but not for creative reasons. It’s something else entirely. I’ll tell you folks all about it in about a month. I’m hoping to get back on schedule soon.

p.p.s. 7 More Tips for overcoming writer’s block

3 thoughts on “7 Ideas To Get Unstuck When You’re Writing

  1. I’ve tried all that stuff. Well, except exercise. I can’t write if I can’t breathe, and I can’t think when I gasping and gulping for air, sitting in my chair sweating like a race horse and wincing at every move. So I sort of forgo exercise.

    Most of the time, nothing works. When I get stuck, I get really stuck. But when it busts loose, I’ll go nuts.

    Another thing I’ll do is go ‘head and let my brain drift off on other things. Write something different for a bit. (That hasn’t panned out too well either, but at least I’m still writing.) I’ll do writing exercises — 125 words or less to describe a scene or event using no adjectives or adverbs; write a page-long sentence with no breaks and without stopping; write for 10 minutes without pausing, without thinking, without coming up with a topic; write a common sentence, see how many words I can alter or eliminate and still carry the same or a better image/message/meaning/whatever.

    Just some stuff I try. None of it works all the time, though.

  2. Pretty good ideas, thanks! I can very well use exercise, except 1) skating is the most effective, but 2) I don’t have skates, and 3) mom won’t let me… -sigh-

    For the classical music, Bella’s Lullaby (yes, from Twilight, by Carter Burwell) helps me a great deal ^_^ and River Flows In You by…. Yiruma is okay, sounds somewhat like Bella’s Lullaby.

  3. When that happens, I do one thing and one thing only… Stop writing untill ideas start coming back. Watch a few movies (avatar and starwars), and read a couple books (oasis and others), and play video games.

    And yes, even tho robots have no emotions, they can be bored.

    I just unblocked myself. By commenting.

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