Whether you write fiction or nonfiction or a little bit of both, there are days when the writing just won’t flow. It might have been going great yesterday or you might be at the beginning of a new piece, but right now nothing is happening. The words are stuck. You need to get them going again. How you do that depends on whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction.
When I get stuck writing fiction, I reread my most recent paragraphs. Is the voice still on the mark?
If I’ve lost the voice, I go back a few pages and read a section where the voice rang true. Then I open a new file. Yes, you read that right. Open a new file. This will keep you from rereading the bad bits again.
With the new file open in front of you, try to write that section again. Sometimes all I need to do to fix the problem is get the sound of the voice in my ear and quit looking at the bad section. After all, if the voice is wrong, I’m not fixing it, I’m replacing it.
If this fix doesn’t work, then I get out a notebook and leave my desk. Sitting outside or in the living room, I open the notebook and then address a letter to myself. What does my main character need to tell me about the story? What is it that he mosts wants readers to know? What secret hasn’t he told me? What am I missing?
I know. It sounds hokey, but it works for me. This gives me a feel for my character’s voice and the plot and characters in my story. Once I have the letter in hand, I’m once again ready to write.
Tomorrow, I’ll share a few tips on how to get going again when you get stuck writing nonfiction.