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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?

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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:

HAVE HOPE! BE PERSISTENT! KNOW THAT YOU WILL GET THERE. DON’T STOP!

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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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Little Women and Good Wives

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I started reading Little Women for a read-a-long on readitswapit forum. After watching a new BBC adaption I was tempted to read it again because I had forgotten some of the book. I love the film starring Winona Ryder, I’ve watched it more than I’ve read the books because when I was a child I could never get into it. I’ve had my copy of Little Women for years it pre- dates publication dating in books, bought it quite cheap from a boot sale. The first time I read it I didn’t realise that Little Women and Good Wives were two separate books! I got to the end and wondered where the rest of the story was, so I bought the mismatched Good Wives paperback.

My thoughts

It’s hard to explain the feeling reading classic books like this give you, they are both uplifting and sad. Maybe it’s because they are true to life and you can feel so much for the characters and they leave you feeling hopeful.

Little Women and Good Wives tells us the lovely coming of age story of the March sisters and their friends. When I was younger I thought I was a lot like Beth-shy and I had a keyboard (though never had any skill)- but Jo was always my favourite character and Laurie. (I am more like Jo because I am also a writer and I have a temper which I have learnt to manage.)

Each character has their own identity and you can’t help but love them all. I do feel that the emphasis on religion puts me off, but need to remember that in the time and country that this was written in religion was a lot more prevalent than today.

In Little Women the girls are trying to behave well and bear the absence of their father who is at war, they learn lessons about themselves about their bad habits/qualities.  They seem to always be trying to improve themselves or to help others to live better and sometimes when one character is lecturing another it can be preachy, morally not religiously. Not all of the book is like this though, (the parts where Jo tries to master her temper show the loving relationship between mother and daughter and there are other instances) sometimes I wonder if the author wrote this to deliberately teach children how to behave, other times I just love the story and it doesn’t bother me.

Some of the advice in the story is not good advice, when Jo starts writing stories about crime and fantastical stories the author seems to think that this is not the way to go but today many people write this type of story. However I need to remember again when this was written and maybe the stories were not stories like I enjoy today but silly stories.

Other than those two faults I can’t really criticise this story. It begins with the sisters when they are children about to blossom into young woman and we follow each one in her journey to adulthood. It ends when they are all adults and have found their paths in life.  Reading the book has made me appreciate the tv adaption more now I know how  faithful  it was to the book (I forgot that Jo actually does take Beth to the sea). The film had to shorten things to fit it in, sometimes not for the best but I will still enjoy it, especially since it encouraged me to read the books.

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I have Jo’s Boys and Little Men but they are abridged children’s books. I also want to read Anne of Green Gables as I read it when I was young but never all the books. The next classic book we’re reading is Bleak House.

Tried so hard not to give any explicit spoilers!

 

 

 

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Ninja Book Box Unboxing

 

It’s that time again and wow what good timing! The theme for this box is COLD AS ICE and well it’s cold out there. The country has come to a standstill, even the place I work is shut with only a dusting of snow on the ground, with a red alert for very bad snow to come within the next few hours. It’s given me some time to update my blog though!

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This box contained the usual spoilers envelope, a lovely little charm- a snowflake- and the usual recipe which is for Baked Alaska. I have no idea what it is -besides a dessert- but it’s relevant to the book which is set in Alaska. And there’s the little Welcome message:

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The items in this box were handmade making this box quite special and different to the others and you can’t but appreciate again the effort that is put into each box. Here’s the book:

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Dead of Winter is described as

“a fast-paced, darkly funny crime novel set in interior Alaska that follows down-on-his-luck cabbie, Mike Fisher, as he searches for his daughter, her step-father has been shot in her bathroom and Fisher thinks she killed him and fled, In a panic he tries to hide the body, but that’s not easy when it’s fifty-below outside”

Wow! I can always trust the Ninjas to send a book that I would not think of picking for myself, (which is why I love doing book swaps too, variety) it sounds funny and I don’t think I’ve read a book set in Alaska. I’ve been itching to read more crime lately (Sherlock Holmes!)  I swear sometimes they can just read your mind and know what you’ll love. I haven’t read the last book though and currently reading three, oh dear so not sure if I should start this yet 😦

And then we come to the little gifts 🙂

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Apologies for my terrible photography skills. They’ve made a survival kit: The timing! A pair of handwarmers: I’m guessing handmade and very well made a perfect fit! A tub of lanolin balm, from Little Beau Sheep.

The chocolate is lime and dark chocolate and from Kentish chocolate and it didn’t last long, lovely! Citrus and chocolate what a good combination. The other gift is another one put together by the Ninjas, in keeping with the survival kit idea it’s a glass jar (don’t we love them) filled with thread and buttons, it’s a sewing kit!

Again you can’t but appreciate the effort and creativity that goes into each box. This is a lot different from the others as it’s all handmade the idea is great and the timing! It just all worked out well!

I have unboxings of previous Ninja Book Boxes on here too if you want any more info (handy search box on the right) or click the link here to visit the website 🙂

Always a pleasure to have a Ninja Book Box! I love books subscription boxes. I’ve only subscribed to this one but love unboxings posts