Writers Tips for Getting Unstuck

Sometimes a writer just gets stuck in the middle of a story. The potential causes are numerous, but most writers go through it. Getting unstuck is the goal. I’ve had plenty of experience getting stuck in the “middle slog” of a novel. These are a few things I’ve done.

Free Write

Writers Tips for Getting UnstuckSit down with paper (do this by hand if you can) and start writing about the story: plot, characters, locations, how you feel about it all. Keep writing until you have it all out. If nothing shifts right away, wait 24 hours, re-read your free write, and repeat if needed.

Forced Write

This is different from above only in that you are not allowed to stop your pen from moving or take time to contemplate. Set the timer (15 minutes is a good start) and don’t stop moving that pen until the timer goes off. This method works best for me if I’m having a conflict with the plot or the character and I have opposing morals.

Best And Worst

If stakes are a problem, take your main character aside and create two lists together. The first is a list of the best things that could happen to and for your character, including best outcome for the story. The second is a list of the worst that could happen to and for your MC. Use the latter to create stakes and hurdles. use the former to provide the relief moments, the desire, and the reward for overcoming it all.

Change Locations and Stress Scenes

If your characters have you stuck or remain uncooperative, surprise them. Take a character out of the setting of your story into something totally different (put the small town boy in Paris or the driven career woman at the mercy of a housebound elderly relative). Keep them in character and take notes on what they reveal. If the fish out of water scenario doesn’t do the trick, put your character in an extremely stressful situation and let them figure it out. In either method, the goal is to know your character better and to uncover both their secret fears and hopes.

Write Out of Order

If the scene is holding you back or you aren’t sure what happens next, skip it and write a scene further into the story. The advantages are that it gets words flowing and you can usually figure out what (if anything) must happen when you know where events are headed.Maybe it’s just a panster thing, but it helps me during the middle slog.


What’s your favorite way to get unstuck in your stories?

Writing A Novel is Like…

Writing is like . . .

Baking from a recipe in which the measurements and ingredients come only one at a time and you don’t know what you’re making.

Being lost; you’re not sure where you are but you know you’ll find your way home eventually.

A scavenger hunt. Just follow the clues.

Sinking into a bathtub with frequent temperature changes in the water.

The weather, with all its daily and seasonal changes.

Driving a bit fast on a dark, twisty road. With no headlights.

Writing a Novel is LikePutting together a big puzzle with no picture to guide you.

Having someone else feed you each bite of your favorite meal.

Stringing beads blindfolded and not seeing what you created until after you’re done.

A long conversation with a total stranger.

Waiting in line for hours for a ten-minute ride on an awesome roller coaster.

Waiting in the wings for your first public performance.

Navigating with a map full of holes.

The best sunrise after the longest night.


What is writing like for you?


5 Steps to Internet (and IRL) Safety and Privacy for Writers by Carly Watters

Technology makes it difficult to keep our private lives “private”. With social media and networking so ingrained in our daily habits, it is easy for us to become desensitized from the power of privacy. We forget that “putting it all out there” is not only a bad idea, it can sometimes be dangerous.

Today, I wanted to share a very important article that brings to light the importance of maintaining your privacy online. In this article, 5 Steps to Internet (and IRL) Safety and Privacy, Literary Agent Carly Watters gives a few tips for writers (and non-writers alike) on how to keep their privacy while networking online. All of these tips are good ones to practice on a daily basis.

5 Steps to Internet (and IRL) Safety and Privacy for Writers by Carly Watters

There are many ways to think about internet safety, but with the fall publishing season book launches coming up I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts about staying safe when you’re used to interacting on the web. I consider safety physical or intellectual.

I definitely think everyone clearly knows how dangerous the web can be, but sometimes we all think we’re immune to it and take risks when we don’t know we’re doing so. It’s the thing that happens to *someone else* not us.

To read the full article, click here.