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.

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Freedom and Structure in Revising a Story: Matt Bell’s Revision and Rewriting seminar at Grub Street

sculpture Monica (1985) by Jules Lasalle in Musée Plein Air de Lachine

Monica (1985) by Jules Lasalle
Musée Plein Air de Lachine

There I was, with a first draft I loved, a folder bursting with a massive amount of material I’d developed in search of what that first draft was truly about (none of which felt right), and absolutely no idea how to pull my story together or move it forward.

This was not a new experience for me. It always seems to happen with my favorite stories, the ones I feel really invested in, the ones I know have to be finished.

Unless my first draft is short and gives me a clear idea of where it’s going, my attempts to dig deeper into the story end up with me bushwacking my way through tangled undergrowth with no idea of whether I’m heading north, south, east or west. I have more than a few stories floating unfinished on my laptop’s hard drive (on my brain’s hard drive too). I’m not even talking about a novel here, just stories of maybe 2,500-5,000 words.

So – what next? Continue reading