Tuesday, August 28

Stuck in the Mud

Have you ever been working on a story, know where you're going, and yet just can't get the words out?
I have a current WIP I love, I like the characters, the plot, the setting, everything. It's right on track for where I want it to be.
But...I'm stalled.
Stuck in mud.
I'm a pantser all the way. I refuse to plot, hate to plot. That being said, I do know where the novel is going. I know who done it, I know why and how the victims were done in.
But I open the document, and I stare at it. I tweak words, scenes, until I want to scream.
I've tried all the tricks I know--changing POVs, fixing plot holes, etc, etc.
So, what the hell is wrong with me? Why can't I get this thing moving again?
This is a really short post...what I need in a nutshell is a tip for getting my book going.


  1. Wish I could help you, but I'm going through a similar thing at the moment. And man is it ever bloody frustrating.

  2. I like 'stuck in the mud' much better than saying writer's block. That seems way more hopeful. Have you tried writing a later scene instead of writing linear? I hate, hate, hate doing that, but sometimes it helps.

  3. I'm there, too. There's nothing wrong with you--or Brenda or me, either! We know the answer, too. We just have to write. Even if it sucks and we end up ditching every word, there's nothing any righter than the old "you can't fix a blank page" saying. Another thing, too--I think being published, especially that first fun, crazy year, changes things and you have to get your groove back. Which takes time.

    Now I, who really don't know anything, will stop acting like I know it all. You'll get there, D!

  4. I'm sort of in the same situation. I know what I need to do to revise my book but I'm wondering if I'm changing the right things or not and I'm sick of worrying about it. What I've decided to do is just go ahead and revise. If the revisions work for the editor--great. If they don't, I'll keep writing. I'll try again with something new and I'll put this book on Amazon myself. Something new will give my backlist a boost.

    My advice is to put your fingers on the keyboard and write. If you're a panster maybe part of the problem is that you know already what is going to happen. Throw out what you know is going to happen and just see where the story takes you.

    My .02 cents,


  5. I'm sorry I know the feeling! I always here research or getting to know the characters even writing a short paragraph of what the character is thinking might help.

  6. Ugh. Those times are tough. That's weird, I'm kind of going through the same thing right now. A few things to try are,
    1) just write anyway. Even crappy scenes. Even if you have to write a scene something like, "Amy gets killed here." Then go on to the next scene and the next one until a scene clicks.
    2) Read bits and pieces of a book or books you love. Sometimes that can get the wheels turning until you're pulled out of the mud. :-)
    3) Write free hand. That engages a different part of your brain, or so they say.
    4) Try writing with your monitor off. That helps you to think about the story and see the scene rather than staring at the words (or lack of words) on a page.

    Hope these help...best of luck!

  7. I play 20 questions w/ myself. It's really 20 different scenarios of what could happen next. I've rarely made it all the way to 20 before an idea springs up and I'm off writing again. But in the meantime, you can come up with some other great ideas while you're working to untangle the knot of your current one.

    Good luck!! Let us know how it goes!

  8. Tell yourself, 'It's okay to write crap,' and then start writing. Because you can fix it once it's on the page. And I like Sheri's idea of 20 questions, maybe that will bring out a little from the hero/heroine's past that you didn't know and that might spark another idea...good luck!!!

  9. Interesting to read that so many others are in the same mud pit! I'm there myself and I've tried several of the suggestions but Alicia listed a few I haven't tried, so I might start there. The thing that does work for me--to a certain point--is just writing. I might delete the entire chapter or scene or paragraph, but at least I'm trying and sometimes what I wrote I won't keep, but it'll lead me into a new direction that lets the words flow!

    I also like Sheri's idea....another tip try!

    Good luck D'Ann!!!

  10. Been there--plenty of times. And most often the problem is with me, not being able to focus. Sheri's idea for the 20 questions is awesome, as is just going with it and writing something to get past the hump. I'm guessing your head is in a million different places with all sorts of places you should be promo-ing your other books, etc. It's a myriad other responsibilities once you're published.

    For me the best way to get my head in the book is to disconnect my computer from the internet, and say "I've got Xhours. I will write and then plug back in."

    You will get back there. We all know you will!

  11. Maybe if we knew the answer to that one question, we'd all be rich! Or else have shelves of books to our credits! Anyway, I'm in agreement with Alicia Dean: Write anyway, read, and write free hand. When my thoughts stall and just can't seem to reach my hands, head, or paper, I rest. I take a well-deserved break!!

  12. Others have already said what I was going to -- just write crappy scenes and come back to it when your muse is cranking on full power -- but another thing that helps me get going is to write like I'm telling someone about that section. Don't worry about POV, dialog cues, or whatever. It's almost like a synopsis or summary version.

    For example, I might write: "Kristin's mad and jealous that Megan keeps coming on to Sean. What she's most mad about is that Sean doesn't stop her, and even seems to encourage her. She has several options: talk to Sean and risk sounding like a psycho; beat up Megan; get over it and see what happens."

    I get down the essence of what I want the scene to be about. As I do this exercise, it helps me get into my characters and their motivations and feelings, which eventually allows me to get back to writing good scenes. Good luck!


  13. I've been there many times. I just shut the computer down and go read a good book. I starts the juices flowing again and I find the words flying to fast for my fingers to keep up. That may not be the best advice and it may not work for you. But it never fails to help me get unstuck.

  14. I write the ending of the book. Of course, by the time the story is finished the ending usually changes. If I'm still stuck, I keep going backward. I write the ending, then the scene before that and so on. Pretty soon, I'm able to pick up where I got stuck.

  15. I usually just out the story aside for a day or two and work on one of my many other WIP's and usually when i open the do and read it again i am good to go. keep working t it it will happen :)

  16. D'Ann... I'm in the exact same place. I wrote 6K words in three days on my new WPI (book 3 of my Gambling series) and now I'm so stuck it ain't funny. I've been wanting to write this story for 2 years now. I love these characters as if they were my own family. I know exactly what I want to happen in this story, but coming up with scenes to make those things happen is like chasing a greased pig around. The moment I think I got something and I start to write, I either get stuck or I end up on FaceBook.

  17. I walk away and try not to panic that I'm not writing. I focus on other things. Cleaning helps, LOL. I find that the mindlessness of cleaning will clear my mind and suddenly I'll figure out how to fix it.

  18. Thanks, all! I appreciate it!

  19. My favorite thing to do is to brainstorm with different colors of pens and on graph paper. I actually do most of my first drafts on graph paper--and this is totally stupid and random--because it doesn't feel like a commitment.

    If you need some different colored pens--let me know, I have tons.

  20. I know this may work for some and not for others, but if I get stuck, I either just try to write, even if it's crap, or I go onto another project I'm thinking about. I have so many characters in my mind fighting for attention that I often will work on more than one WIP at a time. Sometimes, it keeps me from getting stuck, and at least I'm writing.

  21. I will ask myself what is the worse thing that could happen at this time in the story, and that usually helps me move forward.

    Sorry you're stuck. Good Luck!

  22. D'Ann, have you tried interviewing your main characters? Maybe by another character?

  23. I can imagine how difficult and frustrating that must be! Good luck with it!!

  24. That happens to me sometimes. Just keep writing. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect the first time around. You can fix it later.