Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writing Through...

"When its easy, when it just comes to you, when you feel like you're one heck of a writer, that's when you're probably tired and it's time to call it a day." So says writer Joe Nesbo, in the August 2010 volume of The Writer

What about on those days when it isn't easy? The days where you are slogging through trying to reach your daily count? Those days when you don't particularly feel like a good writer, don't feel inspired or briliant?

Keep going for 20 minutes, then decide. Another piece of writerly advice that seems to fall true. Most often if you continue writing for more than twenty minutes you can get yourself unstuck.

Give yourself permission to be wrong. Go ahead, use that word choice you know is not quite right. Allow yourself to move on. Mark the area that's bothering you and go and deal with it later, when you're in a better frame of mind.

Write backstory. Many times if I am "stumped" I'll allow myself to write backstory. I really enjoy writing "backstory" and even though I don't use it all it always helps me. These are the stories I always have running in the back of my mind for each character and getting it in writing can be a lot of fun.

Change POV for a little while. I recently added a second POV to my novel. It just seemed natural at the time. I had a spell of boredom with my main character. I decided to write from the contagonist's viewpoint for one writing session and I was hooked. Its a lot of fun to journal from another POV even if you don't end up using that. (Pepper recommended writing a journal from the perspective of my villain and I think he's been a richer character ever since I took her advice).

Remember its supposed to be fun. Give yourself permission for it to be fun again, even if just for a day. Today is the day you will enjoy your writing, try something new, stop thinking about deadlines, quit worrying about the market and write what you want to write. Just for you and God.
What about you? What helps you get "unstuck"?

Julia enjoys writing women's fiction whenever she can find a chair free of smushed peanut butter sandwiches and lego blocks. She is a wife and homeschooling mama of two littles. She also enjoys reading and reviewing books for The Title Trakk, a Christian review site.


Joanne Sher said...

I NEED this - especially for NaNo. Thanks, Julia!!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Joanne, Glad it was helpful for NANO. We're cheering you on here.

Keli Gwyn said...

Thanks for the tips, Julia. The second one helps me the most. I tell myself to write even when what is hitting the page feels "wrong." I've learned that getting the story down is the most important thing. I have edits where I can make a story better, but I must have the story recorded to do so.

What I've found is that even though I might not feel like I'm in the groove when I'm writing, my work doesn't show that. Just because I feel like my creativity has dried up and blown away like leaves in the fall doesn't mean it has. My feelings color my perceptions, but the reality is that my work remains fairly consistent.

Beth K. Vogt said...

The best way to get unstuck: brainstorming with other writers. But if no one else is around, I just keep typing, even if I hate every word. I did that last night and ended up having the scene go somewhere I never imagined--and I really, really liked it!

Mary Vee Writer said...

I agree with Beth. I need to have someone else to bounce an idea off with. But I can't always find an available buddy.
Last night as I pushed forward my poor MC found herself locked in a cellar. Good grief. Poor thing.

Sarah Forgrave said...

These are awesome tips, Julia! I'm sure a lot of Nano-ers who are getting "muddled in the middle" could especially use these ideas! :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love what you said about feelings coloring perception and our writing actually being consistent. So true and this is one I need to remember. Thanks!

Julia M. Reffner said...


Yes, that's often the best help! I love collaborating with other writers on ideas...they often take things in a brand-new direction. Thanks for stopping by.

Julia M. Reffner said...


I was LOL'ing at your character in a closet because recently my main character found herself locked in a cellar. Interesting when the characters take things in a new direction.

Julia M. Reffner said...


I admire all of those who are participating. Realistically I cannot see myself finishing that type of challenge without my family moving into a hotel :)

Pepper said...

Ooo, and I LOVE brainstorming!
Mary VEE ROCKS!!!!
So does Casey - who bears my crazy enthusiasm for all my imaginary friends very well :-)

Julia M. Reffner said...


I love the outfit! Mary and Casey are some awesome brainstorming partners I'll bet. :)