Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Working Through the Tough Spots

You’ve been working on a story for weeks, months, or even years.  It’s going great and though you began with a pretty clear-cut plan, you’ve been relatively happy to allow your characters and their story a bit of leeway to make some interesting plot turns.  Now you’ve hit that point in the story where you, as the writer, stumble.

Even though you know where you’re headed and the general path you intend to take, the words just aren’t coming.  You write, and write, and write, but when you review you’re nearly disgusted with what you read.  We’ve all been there.  We’ll all be there again sometime – maybe soon.

So how do you get through it?

I wish I could say that there was some simple method, an easy way to get over the hump.  The honest truth is that you just have to find something that will work for you and use it.  And you need to understand that what works one time, or for one person, may not work for another.

Generally that means that you just keep writing.  Good or bad, you need to get the words on the page; you can and will go back and edit, delete, revise, and even rewrite later.  The important thing here is just getting the words out.

Sometimes, and for some people, forcing the words out just doesn’t work.  In this case you may benefit most as a writer by going back to the beginning and (re)reading and editing the work you’ve already done.  As I said, you know exactly where you’re headed, taking the time to review where you’ve been won’t hurt.  And may in fact get those creative juices pumping again.

It could be that reviewing your own work may only make you feel more frustrated.  Then you’ve got a few other choices.  If you write a blog, work on a new post.  Tired of trying to write?  Try reading.  Whether it’s doing a critique read for a friend, picking up a new release at the bookstore or the library, or reacquainting yourself with an old favorite; reading someone else’s stories might just be that metaphorical nudge that helps to clear your mind and allows the words to start flowing anew.

The truth of the matter is that everybody is different, which is a pretty basic fact of life, so it makes sense that no two writers use exactly the same process when writing, none of us use the same methods when working through the tough spots.  So as I said at the start: find a method that works for you.  You’ll need to adjust and adapt as necessary, and always remember that just as your stories evolve from the initial idea that got the ball rolling, to the finished product you share with the world, your writing process is an ever-evolving thing as well.  You merely need to accept that things will never remain precisely the same each time through.

Sounds a lot like life, doesn’t it?


  1. Always have to return to the hard work of writing, huh? For me, it's nicest to just know that I'm not alone, and the reminder that you can work through it. Sometimes what comes after the struggle is the absolute best writing ever. It's through the struggles that we grow.