You had a great idea. Your routine has been consistent. Then, when everything is smooth sailing—you just get stuck. It happens to the best writers out there. Running out of steam and wondering “where do I go from here?” is enough to make many toss a perfectly good chunk of a manuscript in the trash. But, before you go doing anything rash, try out these 5 tips to get your story unstuck.

Don’t Write Linearly

Who says you have to write from the beginning to the end? You’re the master of your writing world, so you can make the rules and bend them if you’re stuck.

But what exactly does that look like? Skip right to that kiss scene you’ve been fantasizing about for weeks or the dance battle between your hero and the enemy clan. If you’re staring at the keyboard with nowhere to go, just think about some events that you are most excited about. Odds are, you already know how they will occur in your head. So, just go for it! The jumping around can give you a light bulb moment that’ll tell you where your story goes. Then, just hop back to where you were and connect it all.

Another strategy that contradicts chronology is writing backward. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes starting with the ending can be the most helpful tip to get your story unstuck. You already know exactly how the climax will look, so write it. Then ask yourself what happens right before this event. Pretty soon, you’ll be finding your way back to the scene of the stuckness.

Supporting Characters

As captivating as your main character are, turning your focus away from them may be just the thing to get you out of a funk. Explore the backstories of your main character’s best friend. Or, check out what the antagonist is doing during your character’s journey.

Switching over to different characters will keep you writing and allow you to continue your story until you figure out where the plot will go.

Mini Sequences

Sometimes, the middle of your story can be the land with all of the quicksand. Writers often know how their story will start and have an idea of how it will end, but what happens along the way can be a bit of a mystery.

If this is the case, it can help to break up a section (the middle, or act II) into mini sequences. Create a list or a visual representation of your story and identify where the hole is. Instead of understanding this as a huge void of nothingness that takes up a third of your story, break it up into four sections.

Especially those who love planning or outlining their plot will find this strategy helpful and make what you don’t have a little less intimidating.

Add More Conflict

Is your main character having a rough time reaching their goal? Giving them more struggles might be what needs to be done to get your story unstuck. Asking yourself what would be the worst thing that could happen to your main character and then writing just that can open up a world of possibilities and further show their resilience.

This may mean giving them another antagonist or maybe even sending them back to square one. Either way, this can give you more to work with as you move towards finishing your book.

Take a Step Back

At times, writers can get lost in the journey of creating a story. As fluidly as you have moved through the first part of your story, getting stuck can signal that it is time to take a step back and reassess your writing.

A couple of different tricks can help you see the big picture of what you are trying to create.

First, write out the logline of your story. As complex and unique as you know your novel is, try to summarize the story in one sentence. Think of it as the description of different movies you’re scrolling through on Netflix. The logline should include who the main character is and the conflict that keeps them from achieving what they want. Creating a logline may help you see your story in a new light as you get down to the basics of the story.

Another tip is to identify some fundamentals of your story. What is the character’s desire? What is the character’s need? What is standing in the way? Answering these questions—details that writers may often skip as they excitedly start their work—can help you reevaluate your story and get you to see where the plot goes next.

And yes, taking a step back can also mean literally taking a step back from your story. Giving your brain some time and space away from the keyboard can be one of the most beneficial things for your writing. Go take a walk or explore another creative endeavor. Try not to think about your story and how stuck you are. This space may give you the clarity you need to stimulate your creativity.

Don’t Give Up

Everyone gets stuck every now and then. As much as it feels like the end of the world, it is no reason to give up on your story. Give these steps a try and you’ll be back on track to self-publishing your next book.

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