6 Things to Do When You’re Stuck


We’ve all been there, word count looming like a stadium scoreboard and we’re on the losing team. There’s no forward motion. Nothing is happening. You just can’t seem to gain momentum. What do you do? While throwing your computer across the room and watching disintegrate into a thousand shards might seem satisfying for about 12 seconds, or until you need the computer again, there are some less expensive options. Here are 6 of them.

Add a character. If things seem kind of flat and not quite engaging, it might be because you are missing someone. Try making up a new person to add to the mix, s/he might be exactly what the plot needs to get itself going.

Do something really mean to your protagonist. Sure, we tend to like our main characters. We get to know them, we spend a lot of time with them, they become like our little figment families. But sometimes you just have to make their lives miserable. Why? Because their problems make a story interesting. People want to know how they will deal with them, how they will get through them. When you’re stuck, the problem could be that you are too nice to your imaginary pals. Make them mad at you.

Skip ahead. Don’t know what happens next, but know what happens down the line? Go there. No one says you have to write chronologically. Your story, your timeline. Do it in whatever order appeals to you, and you’ll be flowing in no time. You can always figure out how you got there later.

Give your antagonist something s/he shouldn’t have. This one is similar to doing something mean to your protagonist, only you’re approaching it from the other side. What does your antagonist really, really want? What would be the absolute worst thing in the world you could give him/her? Do it. Because then you will have to figure out how to deal with it.

Create a new location.  A change of scenery can be good for the soul, and it can be good for the story, too. The environment can influence mood. It can make things available that otherwise wouldn’t be; it can also take things away that your characters would otherwise have. Sometimes the story is in the journey.

Step away. When all else fails, take a break. Get away from your manuscript, get away from that taunting computer, and get away from the protagonist who doesn’t want to take responsibility for his/her own plot. Take a walk, surf the internet, watch some TV, and most importantly let your mind wander. That’s when it does its best work.

Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only).

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