Writers Block: What to Do When You Get Stuck

This article is by Rachel Meyer.

Most of us have had writers block at one time or another. Our story is flowing freely and then something happens that jams up the story works. A scene isn’t going the way we thought, we aren’t sure what to do next, or we seem to have no inspiration.

That’s where the ideas in this post come into play. It will have a variety of suggestions for you to try when you’re stuck in that inspiration-less rut or don’t know what to do.

However, a quick word of warning. All of these ideas can also be used as ways to procrastinate when you’re stuck. You’ve got to have self-control and remember that these are to be used to get your creative juices flowing again, not browse Pinterest for an hour. No matter how tempting that may be.

Ideas for When You Don’t Know What to Do

Write a list

Write down all the ideas for what could happen next. No matter how stupid or crazy, just dump them all in. As you go, you’ll get some actually good ideas and you can pick from among those what is your best option. Or combine several.

Brain dump

Open a fresh document or get out a piece of paper and just talk to yourself about what could happen. Discuss options, debate different approaches, and think outside the box until you’ve figure out what to do.

Use the snowflake method

Write down where you are in the middle of the paper. Then make branches off of that with different options for what could happen. For each of those branches, make more with branches with more options. This method is great for exploring different options all at once.

Work backwards

If you know where you want to go, but don’t know how to get there, start at the end. Then work towards where you are one step at a time. It might take a little time, but it helps you figure out the progression of the story.

Ideas for When You Have No Inspiration

Look on Pinterest

Pinterest is a well of inspiration. If you need to get those creative juices flowing again. Search for something related to your story, like elves or urban fantasy. Hopefully you’ll see something that inspires you again. Or, if you’re unsure how to make something look, this method can also help you visualize.

Take a break

Sometimes what you need is to get away from your story for a while. Watch a movie, read a book, make a batch of cookies and don’t think about what you’re writing. When you come back, hopefully you’ll be recharged and ready to write again.

Go on a walk

Sometimes you also need to get outside and walk. Let your thoughts wander freely and help you figure out what you need for your novel.

Talk to someone

If you have a critique partner, or just someone familiar with your novel, sit down and talk to them. It will often help you to think of new ideas and they might have some helpful comments.

What Works For You?

One of my favorite ideas to use on this list is making a list. It really helps get my creative juices flowing. I used it recently in a novel I’m editing and I used it in combination with the work backwards idea. Between the two, I figure out how to get my protagonist between point A and B and what she would do in between.

What are some ways you work through writers block?

How do you use Pinterest to inspire you?

How do you keep from procrastinating when you’re stuck?

About the Author:

Rachel Meyer is a writer and reader who blogs at R’s Loft.

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Brie Mellow
Brie Mellow
2 years ago

I know it may sound silly but for a lot of the books or stories I have written, I always start with the beginning and the end. Once I know how the story starts out and how I want it to end, I am able to focus on the meatiness of the bones. I can always change details later for the ending but it truly does help knowing where you want your characters to end up.

2 years ago

I illustrate as well as write my WIP. I go through phases that can last weeks where I draw or write. Usually I will be writing a scene or description and get excited about a combination of words as it comes to mind, and cannot write another word until i draw it out on paper. Its painstakingly inefficient in terms of productivity, but more enjoyable. I also find it very helpful to have visual aids such as maps and portraits when writing descriptions in my narrative.

This strategy also retains focus of still being "in world," while also taking a break when i get to parts that im struggling with. Although I am focusing on getting visual proportions or design aspects of an illustration correct, I am also thinking about my story progress, usually where ever I left off at, and running through different scenarios that could pan out and how it would change previous draft directions. Just last night in fact, I began having a change of heart in killing one of my favorite characters halfway through the story. He isn't a main character, but I really liked my latest illustrated rendering of him in full color, and think he can do more to serve the story than just the impact of a shocking and unexpected death. That death does represent a tonal shift in the narrative, so it's something I am still struggling with, but his latest design is pretty fracking cool, and I hate to see a good design go to waste.

Anyway, thats just me. I know a lot of people "cant draw" (which is mularkey, but I will save that discussion for another time), but I think when writing from the imagination, it is extremely helpful to take a break from using words to describe what your mind sees, and have let your eyes and hands attempt to craft something more physical and visual. Clear up some mental space that is being used to hold the image at the forefront your consciousness, then you will be able to find the words to describe what you see in front of you instead of what is only in your mind.

2 years ago

Some very good ideas, thanks for the advice 🙂

Rachel Meyer
Reply to  JGCully
2 years ago

I’m glad they could help you!

2 years ago

This is an extremely helpful list. Often, explaining my problem at length to someone else helps. Sometimes I think of the solution before I even finish telling them everything.

Rachel Meyer
Reply to  DragonOfTheAerie
2 years ago

I’m happy you enjoyed it. Talking to someone is one of my go-tos as well. My sister and I are always discussing ideas with each other and finding inspiration from that.

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