Last week I heard a writer complaining that she just couldn't seem to get back to her writing. She was stuck in a rut and her story was going nowhere. But as we talked we both realized it wasn't that she had no more ideas for what to do with the story, it was something else. She had plenty of ideas for what to do. We discussed whether or not it was enthusiasm, but no, she wanted to write. Just our discussion had us both eager to get back to the keyboard and start working on our present story. So what was it? And how to fight it? We couldn't come to any sort of consensus. We had both been journalists in the past so writing had once been a daily ritual for both of us. So what to do? I came home and started to think about it. How do we get back into writing? I started thinking about some of the things I had heard at a recent writing conference.
1. Try a shorter word count for the day. Instead of setting that thousand word total, which can sometimes seem so far away, how about setting your goal at 500? Or at 300 for that matter. I can turn out a 500 to 700-word blog in a fairly short amount of time. Why not spend that time working on a scene instead?
2. Write a scene you've been thinking about. Stop thinking about what you want your characters to say or do and write it down. Get going on the idea instead of simply keeping it in your head. I don't know about anyone else, but I am always getting story or scene ideas. Sometimes if I am out and about I will write them down in a small notebook so I don't lose them. You can do that at home too. If you get an idea, or think of a conversation, get busy immediately and write it down.
3. Do a character conversation. Simply ask your character a question or two and start writing down their answers. That can not only help you better know your character, but it can also help you once you return to the story. You might even figure out a way to put that piece of dialogue into your book.
4. Start the day with an edit of pages from the day before. I've heard lots of writers do this. It gets them back in the mood to write and gets them started for the current day. The review can be a good way to get back into the flow of the story and make certain you're once again on the right track. It also helps down the road in the editing process.
5. Set a timer. Promise yourself you will write for a certain amount of time. Just like with the word count idea above, you will probably write more than what your original goal is. That can move you along and get you going for the rest of the day.
No matter what, if you use any of these ideas, they can get you going and before you know it you will have that novel written!
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