Cunning plans for pushing through the creative flat spot

In all the years I’ve been writing books it’s always been the same. Somewhere along the way there’s a flat spot.

1195430130203966891liftarn_Writing_My_Master_s_Words_svg_medIt’s the point where inspiration or enthusiasm wanes, but the deadline is still there and has to be met. It hits most authors, and it seems to happen irrespective of what’s being written – or its length. Right now, I figure a lot of NaNoWriMo entrants might be hitting that wall.

Remember – if it’s flat for you to write, it’ll probably also be flat for your readers to read. Is there a way around it? Sure is. In fact, if there wasn’t, books wouldn’t be finished. I’ve got a few strategies for dealing with it.

1. If time permits, stick the book in a drawer and write something else for a few days or weeks. For me, anyway, there’s usually more than one thing on the go.  A change is as good as a rest.

2. Sometimes, time won’t permit. That’s where brute force comes into play. It involves all the usual techniques for unsticking writing block – taking a walk, doing the dishes (or something) then getting back to it. Then get back to the computer and write. Don’t worry about text you’ve ground out – yes, it might be a bit, well, rubbish, but that’s what word processors are for.

3. Review the book and the ideas. What was it that got you fired up originally? If it was a place or experience, can you re-visit the place or experience and remember that emotion? Writing – even non-fiction – is all about emotion.

4. Change your writing framework. It’s too easy to get the same thoughts rolling around when you’ve got the same tools. Take a piece of paper and a pen. Start writing. You can copy that down later into your word processor.

5. Change your writing environment. You can do that with the pen-and-paper technique. Or if you have a laptop, move to a different room or go outside.

Do these work for you? How do you get through the morass? I’d love to hear from you. And, if you’re writing something for National Novel Writing Month– how’s it going?

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013

Coming up: More NaNo tips, more writing advice – and more. Watch this space.


8 thoughts on “Cunning plans for pushing through the creative flat spot

  1. I find that if I’m stuck on a scene, or can’t figure out what to do next, a long shower can often help. It frees the mind of the normal distractions that taking a walk or sitting in the garden can create. There’s only you, a small space and running water. Plus, having to close your eyes for long moments can help too. 😀

    1. Sounds like a good technique – similar, I guess, to meditation. Definitely a way of getting that mental break from the visual framework of the computer (or piece of paper, or whatever…one hopes some writers still use typewriters…)

  2. The one about taking your laptop to a different room really works. I also read a really good post yesterday on the writing-vs-typing thing. As the author of that post put it: when typing, your thoughts appear on screen almost instantaneously as you think them. With pen and paper you’re more likely to complete a thought first before writing it down. This alters your entire thought process and can give rise to new ideas.

    NaNo novel is gaining momentum now and I’m slowly catching up. I’m busy with the climax of Act 1 and the words are just flowing. I foresee a flat point when I start with Act 2, though.

    1. Good point – I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, there’s an instantaneousness about typing. Hand-writing is a lot more measured – ‘pondered’? It’s possible, too, that the device with which you hand-write is a shaping method too; Lord Dunsany used to write with a quill pen, and his stuff has a very definite stylistic shape to it. I’m sure it would have been different with a pencil or fountain pen. All the best for your NaNo novel – sounds good.

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