Random Inspirations

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“Write” Your Wrongs: 5 Ways to Write Yourself Out of a Corner

on May 8, 2014

I’m nearly finished writing Book 3 in the Amish in College series, “Amish Scholar: Samuel’s Book.” This book follows Mercy’s boyfriend Samuel as he attends agriculture and business classes at a local university, in the hopes of finding a solution to save his family’s failing farm. The only problem: both Samuel’s father and Mercy think he should quit college because it’s taking too much time from the farm (his father) and from his free time (Mercy). Samuel struggles to not only find the solution to the farming dilemma, but to balance his love life, his studies, and his work on the farm.

The book was flowing along quite nicely until yesterday, when I wrote a little over half a chapter and then got stuck. Annoyingly enough, the more I tried to get un-stuck, the deeper I sank, as though I’d fallen into writers’ quicksand. Half an hour later, I put Samuel and friends away for the day, working on other projects instead.

Writers' quicksand can be hazardous. Here, I share some tips to get out! Image courtesy of horseandman.com

Writers’ quicksand can be hazardous. Here, I share some tips to get out! Image courtesy of horseandman.com

When I reflected on this later, I realized that my unusual case of writers’ block had occurred because I’d written myself into a corner the previous day. There was literally nowhere to go, so I was stuck on Chapter 26. Ugh.

Luckily, all I needed was some time away from Samuel, a good night’s sleep, and a little distraction, and I was able to write 4 full chapters today, back to back. Woohoo! Based on personal experience here are 5 ways to write yourself out of a corner.

  1. Distance Yourself – It’s great to be close to your characters, but don’t forget what happens when you’re too close–you get smothered! Once I gave myself a little time away from Samuel, I was able to write myself out of the corner and create a few new twists and turns along the way.
  2. Meditate – Sometimes, we write ourselves into corners simply because we haven’t thought enough about what happens next. In moments like these, it pays to turn off the computer and look out the window, or close our eyes and just think. And remember, meditation can happen anywhere–and it frequently occurs in unexpected places, like the shower.
  3. De-clutter – Your book, that is. I had to delete some scenes to keep things more open-ended and effectively set up the next few scenes. Even though no one likes to delete his or her hard work, responsible story decluttering can be the best way to move a story forward. To me, it feels like knocking down a wall in an old house to create an airy, open floor plan, full of possibilities.
  4. Outline – As an organic writer, I usually only outline once per book, right before I begin writing Chapter 1; even that outline is more like a rough synopsis. However, if I’m stuck, I turn to outlines to get my ideas flowing and organized. Remember, you can always deviate from your outline, but at least you’ll be out of the corner.
  5. Sleep on it – Sometimes, all you need to solve a plot problem is a good night’s sleep. Many times, I’ve only been able to write myself out of a corner after a nice long rest and a cup of morning coffee. A fresh start works wonders.

Writers, do you ever write yourself into corners? What’s your best tip to get un-stuck? I’d love to hear your experiences!

 

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