How To Keep On Writing

Getting Un-Stuck – How To Keep On Writing

Writers Write is a writing resource. We’ve put together a post that tells you how to keep on writing – even when you’re stuck.

I read once, somewhere (no idea where) that writing is a leap of faith. It is about closing your eyes and falling into the abyss. Nice thought, but it is hard for me. I prefer to say writing is a process and the leap of faith happens somewhere, in there.

How To Keep On Writing

Once I know what I want to do, this is after I have scribbled a few ideas down and fleshed out the first-base ideas I have had, I start to plan. I have an idea-wall in my new office and I put everything up on it. (Before that, I used ring binders.)

I find pictures that are similar to my scenes. I cut out a pair of eyes that look like my antagonist’s. I find a picture of the car my protagonist would drive. I do this only for the stuff I know.

I plan my scenes. I write a brief description of what happens in each one. If I don’t know, I leave it blank and write the next one, but I have an idea of where I am going.

I write biographies for my characters. I know where they come from. I know what their issues are. I immerse myself in their world. I meet their mother or I find out where they went to school.

And then…

Then I start writing and I ignore most of my planning. I guess that is the leap of faith, but I can’t get there without the planning part. I can’t sit down in front of my screen and just write. If I get stuck or my words dry up, I will refer back to the pictures and find, for example a dozen different ways to describe his eyes.

As the story grows and changes, I’ll go back and flesh out my planning. If my protagonist develops asthma I add that to his biography. I might even get a new scene out of that, so I’ll add it in too. Nothing is concrete. That is one of the greatest joys and one of the greatest challenges of writing fiction. Anything can happen. It is both liberating and debilitating.

But, eventually we have to stop planning and start writing. As the saying goes – no plan survives contact with the enemy, but I still need that plan. I also love looking back at all my planning to see what stayed and what changed, and how it all evolved. Sometimes it has changed so much it looks like two different stories. I like it when that happens.

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Posted on: 4th December 2013

0 thoughts on “Getting Un-Stuck – How To Keep On Writing”

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I am currently in the planning stages on a novel idea and work in a similar fashion. This time, however, I decided once I had a basic outline and ideas for the main characters I would write a very rough first draft of a chapter or at least a scene at the end of each writing session. It can always be changed or expanded upon at a later date but I am able to see progress and not be bogged down trying to perfect my outline.

  2. I do an odd mix of that. For some reason, I can NEVER plan what I’m about to write. I’ll plan a little if the idea I got doesn’t come with a full plot, but I pretty much just start writing and plan as I go. In my practice stories (Tremors fanfiction) for example, I just started writing one day, and while I’m barely even finishing the “season finale”, I already have ideas through “season 5” and those hidden, big plot points that are always there but never fully show themselves until a certain moment. They came to me *while* I wrote. Writing for me is an inspiration in and of itself. Sometimes, though, I do end up with an outline and biographies, especially if the ideas I have are for the far future so I write them down.

    That being said, it is important to at least figure out who your characters are, at least in your head, before you get too far into your story. A lot depends on how they will react to certain situations.