Solutions to Getting Stuck on Your Novel


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One day you’re writing your novel like you’ve finally got writing figured out and the next you come to a scene or transition that stops you dead. Why does this happen?

The problem is you haven’t had enough practice yet at what comes next. That’s a good thing. It means you’re challenging yourself. It’s going to take some thinking, some imagination, to move on. What can you do?

There are three methods I use to get unstuck.

Don’t Do Anything

I don’t mean give up and go watch TV. I mean, don’t do anything. Stop. Find a quiet place and think about the problem. Let your mind wander away from it and then force it back. Work over the problem in your imagination until you see the solution.

Change Writing Tasks

When I get stuck on my novel but don’t want to stop writing, I take a break and work on blog articles. By working on other writing, the problem rolls around in the back of my mind and when I return I often have something that fits the story. This is called a eureka moment and doesn’t always work. That’s why we need a third solution.

Work on Solutions

The most effective way to get unstuck is writing out all of the solutions right where the problem appears and working through them until the best solution comes out. In real life, people don’t always choose the best solution to a problem. A logical character may choose the best solution. An emotional character will choose based on feelings. A character who is a dick will choose the solution that causes the most trouble for others.

The exercise for finding a solution is to write ten solutions. Even ridiculous solutions and those that don’t fit the genre are okay. Make a list of ten solutions to start. Go through the list and modify them so they better fit the story and the character/s involved. If the ridiculous solutions can’t be modified to fit, drop them. Keep reviewing the list and removing the least appropriate ones until you see one solution that will do the job. Now write it.

These three methods are all I’ve ever needed to get unstuck in my novel writing. Avoiding procrastination is a different story.

Do you have any magic answers to get unstuck when you’re writing a novel?

Article by Ivan Izo.


One thought on “Solutions to Getting Stuck on Your Novel

  1. lilicasplace August 10, 2014 / 7:15 pm

    Definitely going to try working on the solutions option you mentioned. I’ve tried all the others and more. I was laughing out loud when I read ‘A character who is a dick will choose the solution that causes the most trouble for others.’ Loved it!

    I don’t know why I didn’t think of making up many possible solutions before and narrowing down the possibilities. Thanks so much for the advice. Greatly appreciated. Eva


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