This week: Hitting a Metaphorical Brick Wall Edited by: Dawn Embers
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|For Authors Newsletter by Dawn|
Sometimes writing goes smooth and easy with the words flowing like water in an unblocked fountain. Many other times, however, it's not so easy. There are many ways to hit a brick wall or find a block when it comes to writing and this newsletter explores a few options and suggests a couple solutions.
|Sometimes, when I've been really frustrated, stressed or just struggling with something, I have the urge to hit my head on a brick wall. More often than not, I don't hit my head on a wall as it is hard to find one during those moments and because it would probably hurt. However, the urge exists and that can come up during writing quite often. It's easy to hit a metaphorical brick wall or to get stuck, unable to move forward. And I'm sure that others have these experiences too. Maybe not wanting to hit your head on a wall but you may have felt like you were coming up against a metaphorical one in either getting started or during the writing process. Let's consider a few spots that may involve blocks or walls when trying to write and consider some ways to get around them.|
Yep, from the very start of a story or any other type of writing, it can be a struggle even just to get started. Maybe you can't quite think of an idea in order to get going. Or maybe, like me, you have too many ideas and struggle to pick which one to do next. To start any type of project can be a very big hurdle. The fight against the struggle is also part of the inspiration behind National Novel Writing Month, which was created to help people to actually write the novel they have said/thought that they wanted to one day write.
Events like NaNoWriMo are good starting points for those that want to write a novel but struggle with the start for a variety of reasons. For those that need a reason/motivation to sit down to write or maybe struggle with concerns of writing a good first draft, the event is great because it gives encouragement throughout a whole month and reminders that it's okay if the writing isn't great. The goal isn't to get a publishable draft right out of the gate, instead focusing on producing any amount of writing that can be later rewritten and edited. The main goal is writing.
If you struggle to come up with an idea, there are a few options that can help spark inspiration. Finding an idea can be both difficult easy at the same time. One option is to look around contests here on the site for prompts. There are many different types of contests and prompts are a great way to give guidance or create a starting point in order to develop something more. Aside from contests, there are also a number of web sites and online generators that offer prompts, which can be found through a quick search using google or any other search engine. Aside from prompts there are different ways to come across inspiration. Going for a hike in the woods or along a path might spark an idea. Or maybe just hearing a song can create some inspiration. You never know where the next idea will come from so don't be afraid to get away from the computer or notepad for a little while in order to search out or do something else until the inspiration comes into view.
During the First Draft
Maybe you've already done some of the writing but hit a wall mid-story/poem/other item. It happens to us all where some words come out but then part way down the line, during various points and stages, things comes to a halt. Perhaps the character isn't acting quite how you want or maybe you only thought of the story up till that point and aren't sure where to take it. There are many reason for the stall and a few things to try in order to get going again. First, if it's a concern about the quality that has you stalling, remember it's okay for the writing to "suck" and that it's important to get the first draft out. Maybe you don't feel inspired all the time but if you can manage it, maybe try writing a paragraph or two at a time. If you don't feel like writing more in the moment, you can take a break. If it starts to flow you can keep going and write more.
Another method I've used when stuck in writing a story is to change the way I am writing. I mostly use the laptop because my hand hurts if I write by hand after a few sentences. However, when I'm really stuck in a novel, at times I have taken out a notebook instead to try writing and it helped me make progress in a novel that is almost done with rewrites and edits. Another option in a first draft, if you don't know what needs done in the exact moment of the story but know other parts that come later, you can skip a spot. Either jump to the next part, leaving a line or something so you know you skipped something or leave a note about the struggle in that part before moving forward. You can go back later if inspiration gets sparked or the idea comes to you at a different time. It may even be fixed or not even needed depending on how rewrites develop.
After the Draft
Finally, what about after the draft is done (any draft)? It is possible to struggle even after a story is sort of finished or even when a couple of drafts are done. Motivation and determination are necessary to make it through the different aspects of getting to that complete ending with a project. It's hard to get rewrites done and then there is the editing process. And once all that is done with a good product that you enjoy, well then you have to consider what to do with it. Is the writing something you want to share with others? Do you want to keep it to yourself for personal reading? Maybe it exists as writing practice and has lived its purpose. There are some different results that come to mind at the end. Even with the couple of novels that I have ready to be submitted or considered for self publishing, it's not easy to take the next step and sometimes I stall or feel like I'm at a brick wall. How you get around it, whether it's with demolition, opening a window, climbing over or accepting the end result, it all will depend on you. With each step, it's still all up to you to decide what to do next.
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|What do you do when you get stuck in writing or when trying to make progress on a project?|
I haven't written for this newsletter for over a year. However, back in July 2021 the topic was about stress for writers, which I'm still feeling today. Here are the comments sent way back then to that newsletter and hopefully some of their stress has been released.
Comment by GaelicQueen
Good reminder for us all (the young and the elders). When I'm stressed, my "squirrel brain" wakes me up at 4 a.m. with 'did ya remember to do..." or "what will happen when you enter retirement full time... or when are you going to upload your book to be self-published?" Limiting caffeine and avoiding energy drink is a good thing (per my cardiologist) - it did stop the heart palpitations. Writing for fun or something serious, in a private journal, is another way to get squirrel brain under control.
Comment by Elfin Dragon-finally published
Stress? I have many ways of handling stress. Most of them have to do with having a wide variety of hobbies. They keep my mind busy as well as steady.
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