5 Things Not To Do When Your Writing Gets Stuck

Vortexit II, Bill Vazan, Réné-Lévesque Park, Lachine, QC

What’s the first thing you do when your writing gets stuck? After drinking coffee and eating chocolate, of course.

Recent comments by Canada’s Prime Minister and Finance Minister insisting they won’t change their plans for pushing forward with the Northern Gateway oil-sands pipeline despite fierce opposition provide useful insight into what not to do if you find your writing project stuck.

1. Refuse to re-write your script

If people aren’t interested in accepting or publishing your work, there is clearly something that is not working. Don’t pull everything apart all at once, but look at the logic and coherency of the plot, the sub-plot, each of the characters and their motivations, each theme, the motifs, one by one.

2. Threaten your readers with debts, destitution and withdrawal of medical care

“O, that way madness lies” (King Lear, Shakespeare)

3. Refuse to acknowledge or explore alternatives

Invent new stuff, new ways of doing things, develop ideas that are right now just a glimmer in the back of your (or someone else’s) brain. Write a new story. Try a novel or memoir or poem. Or create an as-yet-undiscovered medium.

4. Refuse to consider feedback

If a bunch of scientists go to the bother of writing and signing a letter to you, pointing out a serious problem with your script, take a long hard look at what they are saying. Of course you may disagree with some of their arguments, but are you absolutely sure there is no little gem in there that might help move your project forward?

5. Hurt, damage or destroy others

So is the fundamental problem with your script that the readers feel uncomfortable about how it turns out for your characters or your story world? Might they actually feel it was pointess for that old Gran to be poisoned when she drinks contaminated water? Might they wonder what she was supposed to learn or how she was supposed to change from being poisoned?  Do they think that plot twist with a conflagration from an oil spill is simply gratuitous? Have they had enough of dystopian novels describing stark devastated landscapes depleted of vegetation and humanoids?

What is at the top of your list of what not to do when your writing gets stuck, when, as it were, your oil refuses to flow?


2 thoughts on “5 Things Not To Do When Your Writing Gets Stuck

  1. Ha ha, coffee and chocolate are definitely the go-to “fixes”! It’s so very important to be willing to hear criticism and make changes. It’s hard to do, but it almost always makes your work better, so why not, right? 🙂


    • I wish Canada’s Prime Minister and Government would listen to you! It would certainly have made the Northern Gateway Pipeline project much better – and might even have (with luck) changed it into something altogether different!


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