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Getting Yourself Unstuck

by Greer | Content Lead | Writing Tips | Writer's Life

Look, we all love a good mood board. We all appreciate a carefully crafted playlist - in fact, I wholly recommend them! Yet sometimes we writers find ourselves stuck creatively, and no amount of Pinterest pinning or atmospheric tunes will get us out of the rut. If you find yourself in this position, do not fear! There are many methods you can try to un-stick yourself from your stationary position, and I've gathered and laid out several of them for your convenience. Neat, right?


Map It Out


Topography skills not necessary! Make a map of where your story takes place, for example the particular building, village, city, country, planet the story will unravel from. It is fun, creative and excellent for visualising your setting. Done well, you could find yourself with new scene ideas and detailed plot points which get the ball rolling, or it could be a chance to flesh out the world by picturing the other daily events which could happen out-with your narrative.



Character Interview


Theatre nerds like myself will know this one well, but it isn’t just a drama exercise! Imagine you can pull a character out of your story and ask them anything they want. What would you ask, and how would they answer? Ask yourself if their ability to lie to you would alter how they respond to your questioning. This method is beneficial for identifying character strengths, flaws and the journey they need to make. It may also be interesting to pair up characters who do not meet in your story, giving them a chance to interact and flesh one another out in a way not possible otherwise.



A Trailing TV Crew


Lie down, close your eyes, and pick up your imagination journalism tools. You are part of an invisible TV crew who is following your character around in an average day. What would you note of interest? What would your take be on a particularly important day within your plot? Ready for a deeper dive? Question what would have gone differently if characters switched positions. This helps break down both relationships and personalities, strengthening your understanding of their core elements.



Character Switch


Switch it up! Write a scene from a different character’s perspective. For example, if you tend to write in first person narrative which only provides one viewpoint of events, think of how different another person would see it if the story was being told through their eyes. You can do this for a past scene to better understand the impact of events, and doing this for a future scene will make writing the true version a lot easier. This is a common test of an antagonist's validity in the eyes of a reader, and an opportunity to flesh out their motives and way of thinking.



A Narrative Change


Rewrite a scene or chapter using a different style method. Switching the point of view, such as going from third person to first, and instantly breathe new life into a tired text. Another method is by altering tense, for example going from past to present. My personal favourite style shift is by channeling a different 'author's voice', giving myself permission to fluctuate how much I focus on scene-setting or inject a little humour into the narrative. These are all fun little exercises that challenge skillsets and could lead to a firework idea that excites or inspires you.



The Unsent Letter


Select an appropriate scene from your story and write a letter from one character to another based around that scene. This letter is not one they could ever send, but will contain information they wish they could have conveyed either about their thoughts, feelings or actions. If you are in an outlining stage, these letters could be used as part of your planning which you can refer to for tone and vitalness when you eventually write the scene in full.



Writing Tools


Experiment with some new forms of writing assistance. We’re talking on and offline tools, apps, physical aids, and workshops. Here are some ideas to get you started, but explore the world of writing tools and find something that is fun for you personally – Story Cubes, plot (twist) generators, the Storymatic, StoryForge, Story Dice, tarot cards, the Writer’s Toolbox.



Writing Prompts


Prompts do just that: prompt you to action. They can be in different forms, from visual (pictures or photos), audio (spoken word or music), or textual (quotes or words). You can decide how detailed these prompts need to be or how much you take from it. Finding an intriguing writing prompt could not be easier – whether you are a Pinterest used, Instagrammer, online surfer, or just someone who can look around them and see sources of inspiration in their everyday life. Use your selected prompt with your character and/or setting in mind to expand on possibilities. Alterations may be necessary but shouldn’t be too tricky.



Swapsies


A personal favourite, and one that inspired a new story when I first tried it, swap a favourite character or scene from another source and use it in the one you are focusing on. It lets you see new possibilities and outcomes you may have missed. These scenes and characters could be all your own, or you can borrow the bones of another source and put your original take on it.


Look Inwards


Are you distracted? Bored? Dealing with life stuff? If you feel like something is just not clicking in between you and your story, it could be down to motivation.

A lack of motivation can come from many sources and it is vital you spend time analysing why you feel disengaged. It may be the only way to fix it, and that may have nothing to do with your writing. Look after yourself and remember to take a few steps back regularly to examine all aspects of your life. Understanding disconnections in one area may make it easier to detach them from others.


Look, we all love a good mood board. We all appreciate a carefully crafted playlist - in fact, I wholly recommend them! Yet sometimes we writers find ourselves stuck creatively, and no amount of Pinterest pinning or atmospheric tunes will get us out of the rut. If you find yourself in this position, do not fear! There are many methods you can try to un-stick yourself from your stationary position, and I've gathered and laid out several of them for your convenience. Neat, right?


Map It Out


Topography skills not necessary! Make a map of where your story takes place, for example the particular building, village, city, country, planet the story will unravel from. It is fun, creative and excellent for visualising your setting. Done well, you could find yourself with new scene ideas and detailed plot points which get the ball rolling, or it could be a chance to flesh out the world by picturing the other daily events which could happen out-with your narrative.



Character Interview


Theatre nerds like myself will know this one well, but it isn’t just a drama exercise! Imagine you can pull a character out of your story and ask them anything they want. What would you ask, and how would they answer? Ask yourself if their ability to lie to you would alter how they respond to your questioning. This method is beneficial for identifying character strengths, flaws and the journey they need to make. It may also be interesting to pair up characters who do not meet in your story, giving them a chance to interact and flesh one another out in a way not possible otherwise.



A Trailing TV Crew


Lie down, close your eyes, and pick up your imagination journalism tools. You are part of an invisible TV crew who is following your character around in an average day. What would you note of interest? What would your take be on a particularly important day within your plot? Ready for a deeper dive? Question what would have gone differently if characters switched positions. This helps break down both relationships and personalities, strengthening your understanding of their core elements.



Character Switch


Switch it up! Write a scene from a different character’s perspective. For example, if you tend to write in first person narrative which only provides one viewpoint of events, think of how different another person would see it if the story was being told through their eyes. You can do this for a past scene to better understand the impact of events, and doing this for a future scene will make writing the true version a lot easier. This is a common test of an antagonist's validity in the eyes of a reader, and an opportunity to flesh out their motives and way of thinking.



A Narrative Change


Rewrite a scene or chapter using a different style method. Switching the point of view, such as going from third person to first, and instantly breathe new life into a tired text. Another method is by altering tense, for example going from past to present. My personal favourite style shift is by channeling a different 'author's voice', giving myself permission to fluctuate how much I focus on scene-setting or inject a little humour into the narrative. These are all fun little exercises that challenge skillsets and could lead to a firework idea that excites or inspires you.



The Unsent Letter


Select an appropriate scene from your story and write a letter from one character to another based around that scene. This letter is not one they could ever send, but will contain information they wish they could have conveyed either about their thoughts, feelings or actions. If you are in an outlining stage, these letters could be used as part of your planning which you can refer to for tone and vitalness when you eventually write the scene in full.



Writing Tools


Experiment with some new forms of writing assistance. We’re talking on and offline tools, apps, physical aids, and workshops. Here are some ideas to get you started, but explore the world of writing tools and find something that is fun for you personally – Story Cubes, plot (twist) generators, the Storymatic, StoryForge, Story Dice, tarot cards, the Writer’s Toolbox.



Writing Prompts


Prompts do just that: prompt you to action. They can be in different forms, from visual (pictures or photos), audio (spoken word or music), or textual (quotes or words). You can decide how detailed these prompts need to be or how much you take from it. Finding an intriguing writing prompt could not be easier – whether you are a Pinterest used, Instagrammer, online surfer, or just someone who can look around them and see sources of inspiration in their everyday life. Use your selected prompt with your character and/or setting in mind to expand on possibilities. Alterations may be necessary but shouldn’t be too tricky.



Swapsies


A personal favourite, and one that inspired a new story when I first tried it, swap a favourite character or scene from another source and use it in the one you are focusing on. It lets you see new possibilities and outcomes you may have missed. These scenes and characters could be all your own, or you can borrow the bones of another source and put your original take on it.


Look Inwards


Are you distracted? Bored? Dealing with life stuff? If you feel like something is just not clicking in between you and your story, it could be down to motivation.

A lack of motivation can come from many sources and it is vital you spend time analysing why you feel disengaged. It may be the only way to fix it, and that may have nothing to do with your writing. Look after yourself and remember to take a few steps back regularly to examine all aspects of your life. Understanding disconnections in one area may make it easier to detach them from others.


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