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How to get “Un-Stuck”

October 20, 2013

By Anne Hawkinson

Anne Hawkinson - PhotoYAY!  I’ve finally carved out some time to write.  I lock the doors, mute the phone, and turn on the computer.  I’m going to make significant progress on my work-in-progress.  And then it happens.  I stare at the blank screen and it stares back.  Nothing happens.  Nothing.

What happens next is even more dangerous, threatening the very survival of my story.  I start looking around for other things that need doing:  sort through and file the stack of papers on top of the printer, dust the entire room, do a load of laundry (it can be doing its thing while I’m writing, I rationalize), throw dinner in the oven (dinner will be ready as I reach my goal on the plot clock).

At this point, I have two choices:  1)  Tough it out and start typing something, anything.  Sometimes just moving my fingers on the keyboard jolts the brain into action.  I might start out with something completely unrelated to my story and all of a sudden, I’m back on track.  2)  This is a bit tricky, and requires me to remember that I’m still writing.  I get up and do something else with my starting point still engaged in my brain.  I know I just said that this can be the kiss of death to any progress I hoped to make, but this does work for me when I’m stuck in front of the monitor and nothing is happening.  I don’t do anything that requires reading/writing, but activities like doing laundry, washing dishes, pulling weeds, or taking a bike ride have all proven successful for me.

Something else that works for me?  A different writing mode.  If being stationed in front of the computer is not getting me anywhere, I grab a tablet and pencil and work somewhere else (usually propped up in bed at the end of the day).  I might make an outline, jot down phrases, conversations, or plot points.  Whatever it is, I know I  will have something to type into my document the next time I turn on my computer.

I have good, supporting evidence for what has come to be my personal writing process.  I’m a writer and I write.  It’s as simple as that.

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ”
Agatha Christie

“You can’t edit a blank page.”
Nora Roberts

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
Charles Bukowski

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