How I Write Novels
What To Do When You Get Stuck Writing Your Novel (Part Two)
1 Trick I’ve Used to Write 5 Novels
Okay, so I’ve reached a stopping point after that first rush of 100 pages. I just can’t seem to keep writing. But I have no idea what’s wrong with the book, and I certainly can’t figure out how to fix it. Maybe I can trick myself into writing more? But the truth, if I’m being honest with myself, is that anything I do write in an attempt to fix this problem falls flat.
What do I do next?
I take the project off the page. I mean that literally — I’m a big fan of art supplies. I like to use colorful note cards, beautiful pens and highlighters, or different colored post-it notes.
(You could probably figure out a way to do something similar on a spreadsheet, if that’s more your thing. Thinking about the project from a completely different angle is what works best for me, and since I compose on a screen, making the work tangible seems to take the problem-solving to a different part of my brain).
I start with just taking stock of what I know. Usually by this point, I feel pretty despairing about the project I’m working on. But reminding myself of everything I already know always ends up being encouraging and means that this process puts me into a generative, positive frame of mind.
What might I discover that I already know?
- the main character(s)
- the setting(s)
- how I’m telling the story/ the story teller
- how the book is constructed
- the timeline of the book
- the era the book is set in
- major plot points
If I write every single thing I know down on notecards (bonus points if they’re color coordinated!) and then lie those notecards out on the floor, chances are I’ll suddenly (physically!) see that I know a lot more than I thought I did!