Writing Wednesday: What to do when you’re stuck

I published a post previously on how to find the time to write and how to be motivated. But what about when you have the time and you want to write but you’re stuck at a point in your story and don’t know how to move on?

I am a discovery writer/pantser, which means that I don’t have a plan. I just write. I have my characters and I know where this is going to end but I don’t plan what’s going to happen. Plans don’t work for me. I find that if I write (usually I have an idea for a scene or something to start me off) ideas will come to me for characters or other scenes. I love writing like this because it’s all a surprise, it’s exciting but sometimes you can get stuck.

For a few weeks now I’ve felt a dwindling of ideas and I’ve been struggling along. So when I’ve felt stuck I’ve:

  • Had a break, hoping that I will come back eager and refreshed with new ideas
  • Free writing- I just sat down and wrote without worrying that it was drivel hoping that I’d eventually stumble upon a nugget of gold- or an inspirational spark- that would help to move me past this point
  • I have written scenes out of order, if I don’t know where I’m going yet but I know what’s going to happen a while later I skip ahead (been doing this since I started)
  • Listing what needs to happen next
  • Finding a outline/plot template and using that to map out what has happened and what will happen (if you’re a plotter you have already have done this) I did do this but no idea where it’s gone
  • Changing how I write. Example: if you write by hand type it up or vica versa (excuse to buy a lovely new pen and notebook). You could even write somewhere new

The free writing did spark some ideas and I know what scenes I need to write but for some reason I still feel this block. I have been pushing through it and I  will continue to do so with the hope that eventually this will all work out. This is what else I could do:

  •  spend time working on my characters. This could be filling in a character profile or (not sure where I got this advice from) pretend you’re interviewing your character and ask them questions, you could ask them questions relating to why you’re story is not moving forward
  • the book Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Wolff, which I mentioned in my last post, has some good tips. Ask yourself why write this story? And why write about your character?


You can use this same method to help with your plot, you can ask yourself why is this happening? in the book these exercises are used to help you build your idea when you start writing but they are helpful when you are stuck. What other questions can you answer that will help your story along? (I don’t want to photograph too much of the book as I’m not sure what is classed as copyright infringement)

  • Go and look and my pinterest board: often a picture will inspire me, I have set up a pinterest board with images relating to setting and characters (anything related to my story) to help get me in the right mind frame.
  • Go online and find some advice to get out of this sticky spot, good advice here at terrible minds.com keep a pinterest board of all the helpful things you find. I just visited my own (it’s a mess but here it is) after writing this post and found a helpful worksheet for when you need to reconnect with your story, for when you feel like something is holding you back or you are not enjoying it anymore, it’s here. 

Important advice for when you’re stuck:



Update: Ok, so I wrote this post and went to do some writing, I did feel stuck before! But as usual I was worrying about nothing. I wrote 921 words and now I have more of an idea of what’s going to happen next.

This is what I mean by me being a discovery writer, I’ll think I’m stuck but when I write, ideas come to me.. sometimes

I also wrote some notes of what could happen next and thought about elements of my plot that need to be looked at. So my confidence has been boasted and my worry eased for now. That’s why the advice to have hope and keep going is important, writing has its highs and lows, maybe later this week I will struggle but knowing I pushed through today I know I can do it again.

You can do it!

Update: Last weeks word count: 1,780 (not quite 2,000 but I’m feeling more positive this week). Hoping to get back to editing my short story this week, even if I only get one thing on my list done. 


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