In last month's IWSG post, I gave some ideas for what I do when I'm stuck writing a blog post. Today I'd like to share my tips for what to do when you're stuck in your work in progress, your WIP. (Which makes me feel like a real writer when I say “WIP”, cuz, like, I know the lingo and all. I'm in the club!)
Maybe I'm not the best person to take advice from, considering I've been writing my first draft of my first novel for three years. What you need to understand though, is that I've really only been writing it about four months, if you count the actual time I've put into it.
I did a NaNoWriMo in secret. Got a lot done. That encouraged me, so the next February I did BuNoWriMo, which stands for Burrow...and you know the rest of the acronym. You can find them on facebook and I highly recommend you do because talk about a supportive environment! Got a lot done. Actually declared myself a participant and joined the banter. Same the following year. Then if I count the scraps of time I've invested that wasn't during a big, supportive push like that, and that's my four months. I'm at about 35k.
Just sayin', so you don't think that I think I'm an expert.
My novel is a sci-fi/thriller (which IWSG helped me realize when I was having genre-confusion – thanks wonderful folks!) and this rough draft is set in two separate time lines. I'm not quite sure how that's going to work out...but that's for the revising part. However, it leads to my first tip.
If you're stuck on a certain section, go write on another one. If the present is plaguing me, I go write a scene from the “back in time” part. If you're a plotter, you know what's going to happen, pick something you're in the mood for and write that instead of where you were stuck. Just because you're methodical, organized, and all those things I'm not, as a pantser (see, I really am in the club!) doesn't mean you have to write it in order. Movies aren't shot in order. (Now that's a club I'd like to join – screen writing...)
Go back and re-read what you've written. Maybe not from the beginning, but read a section. Bask in the wonder that is your writing. It's like finding a piece of your wardrobe in the bottom of a drawer and saying, “Oh yeah, I loved this shirt! Great shirt!” Instead you're saying, “Oh, yeah, that IS good. This is going to be a a good book. I remember that part more clearly now.”
I get inspired when I do that. This might not work for you if you work more, um, consistently on your WIP than I do, since you probably remember all that you've written, but giving yourself a little pat on the back never hurts. Just don't edit what you're reading. (Not that I have that problem or anything...just, ahem, a warning...)
Write a scene that's key to the book. It will make you feel like you've really accomplished something. Yes, plotters, it might not be where you are, but you already know where it goes. Me? I have a vague idea what scenes might be needed to get where I think I'm going, so I go for something that might be useful later on. At least I'm writing!
Regardless of what kind of writer you are, you just have to keep writing. It's that discipline thing I talked about last month. JUST DO IT. Good luck!
Alex “Ninja Captain” Cavanaugh is our leader for this wonderful, supportive group. Don't forget we even have our own website now. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already, and "like" our facebook page, too. I'm so impressed with what these talented folks are doing to promote this group! Encouragement month long is now just a click away!