Wednesday, October 27

Sometimes You Just Get Lost

D'Ann and Christi have both done a great job of offering options for stuck-plots. This isn't another post like that. Why? Because sometimes we just get stuck. We write ourselves into corners, we lose our characters or we lose our excitement about the story. Yes, plotting can help to curb that. Yeah, writing by the seat of your pants helps to keep up the momentum.

Still, in the midst of a book, a lot of us get lost. Here are three ways I use to find myself - and my story - once I'm lost. Yeah, it's happened before...and I'm sure it will happen again.

1) Change the scenery. Not just the scenery in the book, although that can help. I mean change your scenery. One of the first things I do when I'm stuck is change my scenery. I go for a walk (or twenty), I wander the mall or head out to Sheldon's Folly to wander around the marsh and just take in the beauty. Usually I take my camera, hoping for some egret sightings or maybe a bobcat off in the distance. I don't take my notebooks and when I find myself headed down Thinking About The Book Alley, I change course. Because the best thinking is done by my subconscious when I'm in this situation, not by my active brain. Sometimes 1 walk fixes things..sometimes it works out over the course of a few days...but changing my scenery helps.

2) Change the book. Seriously. Stuck? Free write a scene from anywhere in the book in a completely different way. It can be a scene you've already written, a scene you haven't written or maybe a new scene that's potentially a follow-up to something already written. What you write may not make it into the book, but every time I've tried this it has helped me find a way around the mess I'm in. A secret? Try to do it in first person, not 3rd person or narrator voice, even if the rest of your book is 3rd person. Set your main character free and write what they're telling you they see.

3) Do something else creative. This goes along with #1, but you don't have to take a walk or take up photography. Grab your recipe book and try a really challenging dinner option. Sew or quilt. Work on your family scrapbook -- come on, you know it's been ages!! -- or play the piano, even if the only song you know is Chopsticks. Engage a different part of your creative mind, and as in #1 don't allow yourself to think about the book...let your subconsicous do that and you just enjoy scrapbooking, sewing, cooking or whatever floats your boat. When you come back to the story, my guess is your stuck-plot will be unstuck and ready to roll again.

9 comments:

  1. Good post, and viable options. I use the third one quite a bit, though I'm always in a panic that I've lost the story and will never get it back. Then--and it's usually sudden--there it is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I walk my dogs to clear my head. 3miles out in the fresh air usually works. Sometimes I'll pull out a different story and work on that for a few days. And sometimes the pressure of needing the next set of pages for my critique group forces me to work through it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I know I've said it on here a million times - but getting on the elliptical or treadmill loosens up all sorts of ideas in my head. It is like forced meditation!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Kathy and Christi, it's amazing to me how often exercise works to unstick the brain ... Liz, you're totally right -- when the plot comes back to me it's a wham!bam! moment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good ideas!

    I like to (what else?) ride and just let my brain go!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I read when I'm stuck. Sometimes just vegging out with Hubby helps.

    ReplyDelete
  7. When I had a reliable car, I used to just get on the freeway and drive. Fortunately plotting and driving haven't been deemed too dangerous to do simultaneously. Good post, Kristi.

    ReplyDelete
  8. great advice kristi...i'm always putting in another 20 min on the wii and next thing you know, blammo...there's a new idea! =)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Reading is always a good idea, Shawn, I should've mentioned that! And Carrie, the Wii makes me happy on so many different levels -- when I'm stuck, when I just need a break...it all works! Margie, totally agree -- driving to clear the head does work...if I were a better driver, I might do it more often. :)

    ReplyDelete