Becoming Unstuck

cat-head-stuckWell, now you’ve done it. You went there. And now you’re stuck. Not just a little stuck. Bad stuck. Like, devastatingly stuck. Like, how the hell did I get here stuck. Like, I’m ready to walk away stuck. Don’t do it. It’s good work. It’s salvageable.  You just have to use your head to get back on track.

The first step to getting unstuck is acknowledging the fact that you are really stuck. You’ve gone off the rails and now you’re at a point where the story your writing is not the story you want to tell. It happens. Sometimes it’s a good thing. “The characters just have a mind of their own and they took me to this awesome new place full of possibilities.” But, remember, you’re not there. You’ve entered into a realm of aimless wandering and meandering plots. You’ve got problems.

Ok, so you’ve admitted the problem. Now, it’s time to assess the damage. How far into being stuck are you? A chapter? Two? Five? You’ve written the entire novel and realized none of it makes any sense after the first page? Not even the gods can help you, my friend. So, it’s time to read through what you’ve done. If you’ve outlined, it may help to see where your story and your outline starts to divert and why. Did you follow a fascinating plot bunny down a bottomless pit? Or did you stick to the outline, only to have it meander? If you can pinpoint where the train started going off the rails, you’re a step closer to resolving your stuck-ed-ness.

Now, you’ve identified the sticking point. Depending on where you discovered the problem, it may mean rewriting a few chapters or, gods forbid, tossing a few completely. Deep breath. It’s ok. This is part of the process. Trim a finger or two to save the hand. In this case, it’ll grow back. I promise. And, it’ll be so much better. Your story will thank you. If you’ve really taken the time to assess the situation, you’ll save yourself some work, but don’t be afraid to cut and start over. Remember, we’ve admitted to the problem back at step 1. It’s no use going forward, so taking a few steps back and taking a different approach is probably what your story needs.

Lastly, in order to avoid another sticking point, try and give yourself a solid path ahead. Create a detailed outline of at least the next couple of chapters. Stick to it… at least until you get over the hump of what stopped you before. That’s your new goal. Get past that sticking point. Then you could be off to the races. The floodgates will open and reams of smart, taught storytelling will flow from your fingers. Well, ok… maybe not exactly like that, but you’ll feel a lot better having been able to move on.

I hope this little method helps. I get stuck all the time and it can be frustrating. It can make a writer stop writing. But, we know that’s not the answer.

Have a way of getting unstuck? Be sure to share in the comments below! Thanks for stopping by. In the meantime, write on!

 

Tally Up Twitter Tuesday 2/3

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Another batch of tweets from the last few weeks that you might find of interest.

Best Websites for Writers

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The Writer’s Digest 2015 Writer’s Yearbook provided a list of 101 best websites for writers (available only to subscribers or folks who sign up for their newsletter). What follows is my own personal top list of websites based on their selections, with a few additions of my own. In no particular order:

1. thestorystarter.com – This is just plain old writing fun. Need a writing spark? Head over to story starter and click the button. Sure, what you get might be nonsense, but it might also get your gears turning. You never know what will spark your next story idea or plot development.

2. Grammar Girl – I am not a grammarian. Most people… even writers aren’t, but it’s an important part of what we do. Have a grammar question? Like, “Is my participle dangling?” Head here. Grammar girl has the answers.

3. Joe Konrath (or A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing) – I’ll admit it, reading Joe Konrath’s blog is one of the reasons I got into self-publishing. Over the years, it’s become a bit acerbic, but Joe tells it like it is when it comes to the publishing industry and his beliefs in the potential for authors to succeed in self publishing.

4. Preditors and Editors – This is a great resource, especially if you’re thinking of signing on with someone to publish your work. They’ve sniffed out the scams and the con artists. Should be part of any due diligence before giving anyone your money to do work for you.

5. Writer Unboxed – While I don’t visit this site as often as I used to, it’s really a great resource. Plenty of great content written by a wide variety of regular bloggers and contributers. A great community focused on everything writing.

6. Slushpile Hell – As a self-published author, a blog about query mistakes and submission pet peeves doesn’t hit home quite so hard. But, if you’re looking for a great source of what NOT to do when submitting to agents, this is the place to go.

7. Mediabistro.com – Looking for a writing job? This is a great place to start.

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Now, a few of my personal favorites to round out the top 10 that didn’t make WD’s list.

8. Alltop (Publishing) – Alltop is an aggregator site that you can customize to show you any news from top blogs that you want. In this case, I use their Publishing site. It’s a great way to see all of the most popular blogs in one site, with the most recent article titles on the same page. Great for finding news to share or get ideas for your own blog posts.

9. Hugh Howey – If there was a “good cop” to Joe Konrath’s “bad cop” in the self-publishing world, it would be Hugh Howey. While Joe tries to beat everyone over the head with his (usually well thought out) anti-establishment rhetoric, Hugh is more about sharing his experiences and letting the reader decide what’s best. His Author Earnings Reports can be eye opening to those considering self publishing.

10. Writer’s Cafe (at kboards.com) – If there was an accomplice to Joe Konrath in convincing me to self publish, it was the Writer’s Cafe forum over at kboards.com (formerly kindleboards.com). While the forum isn’t quite as it used to be (good things never last), it’s still an invaluable resource of self-publishing experience. Want to know if a marketing site is worth the money? Want to know how to price your novel? Want to know which 3rd-party distributor to consider? There’s someone there who has seen it/done it.

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I hope you find this list useful! Any sites you recommend? Let us know in the comments section and thanks for stopping by!

Having Plot Problems? Try Out This Cool Site

PeriodicTable

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

 

http://www.designthroughstorytelling.net/periodic/

Tally Up Twitter Tuesday – 1/20

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Another batch of tweets from the last few weeks that you might find of interest.

Have You Checked Out Writers2Writers?

I hope you’ve had a chance to check out the TV interview series, Writers2Writers, I was a part of. Originally aired in the Fall of 2014, the series features guests talking about all sorts of author- and writer-related content. There’s something for everyone! [Update: I’ll be adding new episodes to the list below as they are released throughout the year.]

Episode 1 covered writing an anthology, NaNoWriMo, and using Kindle Direct Publishing (with yours truly!).

Episode 2 discussed paranormal fiction writing, outlining your novel, and the dos and don’ts for landing a literary agent.

Episode 3 featured memoir writing, scifi/fantasy world building, and the author/editor relationship.

Episode 4 talked about the New Jersey Authors’ Network, writing conflict for characters, and facts and figures on selling your book to a publishing house.

Episode 5 discussed the ebook price war, how to mend a “broken” scene, and starting your own writing group. 

Episode 6 covered historical fiction writing, overcoming writer’s block, and book cover design.

Episode 7 is about character creation, revision checklists, and strategies for time management.

Episode 8 delves into writing young adult (YA) fiction, tips from guests at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival, and an action plan for book marketing.

I hope you find these videos informative and helpful! 😀

Writers2Writers Episode 1

The first episode of Writers2Writers premiered this week on Princeton Community Television and apparently, that’s a channel I don’t get! But, have no fear! Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, we can watch it over and over and… okay, maybe once is enough. This series is essentially about authors helping authors. The entire episode is 27 minutes long and the segments are interspersed with fun little interviews and anecdotes. This episode covers anthologies, NaNoWriMo, and a very basic intro to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (by yours truly). My segment starts at the 20:17 mark of the full episode below. Or, you can skip further below to see it as a standalone. Enjoy! It’s really been fun being a part of this little TV adventure. I hope someone somewhere finds it beneficial to their own writing path. I’ll be sharing new episodes every Saturday morning as the season progresses.

Full episode

Just me! 😉

 

Tally Up Twitter Tuesday – 10/27

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Been a while since I’ve posted this feature, so figured I’d dust it off with a fresh look. These are some of the more interesting things I’ve shared over on Twitter in the last week. Enjoy!

 

As always, you can get these links first hand by following me over on Twitter. 🙂