Saturday, October 5, 2013

Getting Unstuck

I’ve been kind of stuck lately. In a writerly rut. Not really writer’s block, per se. You see, writer’s block implies that you’re actually doing some kind of writing. I’ve been … dry. It’s in part due to major life/family events, but some also just due to inertia. I haven’t been writing, so it’s hard to write. Hard to start from a non-moving position.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the tricks and tips and workarounds I’m using to jump-start, restart, reignite my writing. Hope you enjoy them!

While this book is geared toward a student writer, I really love the writing exercises she includes in most chapters. Plus she encourages the writer to save what they write. Everything. Even the cruddy first drafts and the times when the writer was just playing around. As it turns out, looking back through some of my notes about writing, story ideas jotted down on a thousand different sticky notes in every room of the house, and re-reading old stories is another method of getting back into the writing saddle.

The Snowflake Method – I have had many projects start well but fizzle later (usually at around the 2/3 point) and have concluded that lack of planning (being a total seat-of-the-pants writer) was hurting me. So I’ve vowed to do more planning. The snowflake method has always been a favorite of mine for doing the big-picture story planning, gradually getting deeper and deeper into the story as the snowflake evolves from a simple triangle into a fractaled wonder.

This list from the good folks at Galleycat was an excellent source of resources for me this week. I’ve tried trello (still tinkering), and of course the snowflake method appears again. And that excel gods-eye view? Absolutely earth-shattering for me. I need a fully formed idea before it will be useful, but I plan to use this method for outlining scenes for my November nanowrimo project this year. Highly recommend, particularly for any screenwriters out there.

The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet was recommended by a writer friend aware of my predicament. Blake Snyder wrote a writing book called Save the Cat that is well-regarded in writing circles. I haven’t spent much time with it yet, but I plan to use it as my next trick on the story idea I’m gestating at the moment. Yes, I finally have a reasonable story idea! These things have worked!

Another cheat-sheet style is the 7 point story structure,found here on Chandler Baker’s website. Can you tell I’ve been looking for the magic bullet? The reality is nothing short of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard actually works to get me out of my slump, but playing with all these various organizational tools and story structure outlines has been invaluable to getting me reenergized and ready to write. Now it’s time to generate some fiction, who’s with me? Here’s a writing prompt if you want to play:

The metal man faced the apparition, his faithful hound at his side, and said…


  1. The metal man faced the apparition, his faithful hound at his side, and said, "What genius thought I'd be the right one to talk to? I can't do anything for intangible beings. I'm a computer, not a god." And with that, he spun around on his heel and stamped away. The hound cocked his head to one side and stared at the woman's shocked expression, before scooting around and joining his master."

    Haha! That actually started out as a rant about something I've been working on all day. It's kind of bizarre how much it morphed from my head to this comment box. :)

    Fun post, Karen. I've never loved the Save the Cat book, but there is definitely some advice from it that still sticks with me. I LOVE the snowflake method though. I wouldn't start another book without it. Unless it was being cowritten by people who love plot twists. Hardly worth it to Snowflake it then.

  2. Excellent links and excellent advice. Thanks for sharing.


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