Hi, SEers. Mae here today for my first post of 2021! I hope all of you had a spectacular New Year. Let’s hope 2021 is going to be FAR BETTER than the wretched mess that was 2020.
I’m going to start this post with a question, and it may seem like a strange one given we’re talking about new beginnings, but—how long do you stick with a problem WIP before abandoning it for greener pastures?
We’re all acquainted with the first flush of love for a new project—the excitement of jotting notes, working up character profiles, and choosing our setting. If you’re a plotter, you’ve worked out all, or most of, the details. If you a panster or planster, you have a general idea of where your novel is headed. Either way, you start with a bang like a racehorse bursting from the starting gate.
And… you’re off!
For a time, you write like a speed demon and life is good. Even when you hit your first plot hurdle, the gloss of your WIP only dims slightly. But then—grimace!—more hurdles pop up, followed by problem scenes, and ultimately, the messy middle. This is the place where some writers abandon their WIP for the one waiting in the wings. Because—let’s face it—there is always another idea ready to slide into place.
I learned long ago that writing isn’t just about creativity. It requires discipline in equal or greater measure. When it comes to problem WIPs, we need staying power. If you’ve hit a snag (especially for the pantsers and plansters out there) how do you rediscover that flush of first love? Below are a few ideas to help you climb from the tree of “stuck.”
Read Your Last Scene or Chapter
Reacquaint yourself with what has gone before. Not all of us write every day, and sometimes it can be a week or more between writing sessions. Rereading what you wrote is a good launch point.
Read Your WIP from the Beginning
Odds are you’re at (or close to) the messy middle. That means you have numerous pages and chapters in which to fall in love with your characters and plot all over again.
Have Someone Else Read Your WIP
At this point, you don’t necessarily need critique just excitement, so this could be a friend or a family member. Having someone else jazzed about what you wrote is guaranteed to make you want to get back to work and finish.
We do a lot of this on our own, but if you’re stuck, kick around ideas with your CP(s), a friend, or family member. Sometimes just talking out the problem areas opens the gate to clear vision.
Do a Writing Exercise
Engage in something short unrelated to your WIP—a fiction prompt or free writing. Let your muse play outside the restraints of your WIP. Completing a writing project helps you realize what you’re capable of achieving. Consider it an ego boost. Now go back and tackle that WIP!
Have you tried any of these tricks to jumpstart a stalled book? Do you have tricks of your own that you’ve used with success? I’d love to hear what you think about today’s post. Please share below.
Ready, set, go!