Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Post by Lynn

A fat, black fly, slowed by cool weather, bangs against the window pane in my writing room. He can see where he wants to go—to the still-green grass outside—but he can’t reach it the way he thinks he ought to be able to reach it. He’s centimeters away from freedom, but he can’t get there.

I can relate.

In my writing, I often see the story, just right there, through the mist of my imagination. And yet I bang against the words on the page, hit delete, bang again and again.

In order to break through to the lushness I envision, I’m finding out I have to redirect. Unlike the unfortunate fly, I can do that. I can make choices, experiment and not just bang away until I die. Phew! 

My favorite tool in this case is to turn another direction and let time pass.

I step away from that particular piece of writing and redirect my energy to something that proves to be more permeable in the moment.

I leave my computer and write by hand, something that research has shown causes you to access different parts of your brain.

If I can’t dredge up enough dialogue to flesh out the scene I’m working on, I pivot and go where the energy is flowing—maybe to a lyric essay, because the Muse has been handing me some imagery in my sleep.

Or sometimes I have to keep studying, reading, responding to writing prompts until my abilities move up to the level of the story and I learn the exact thing I need in order to write the next words.

My redirection is rewarded when the window to the world I was banging away at opens just enough to let me slip through.

“Go with the flow” sounds New Agey, and some would say I’m stalling, but it’s my creative process and I’m sticking to it. I end up less frustrated and more productive in the long run.

What about your writing process? Do you redirect, go straight for it, or something else?


  1. Ah, yes, the writing processes. I have two, the avoidance one and the one that gets work done. In the avoidance process, I divert from the task I'm stuck on and clean the office, do some laundry, read some poetry to prime the pump. In the other one, I pick up the journal, a pen, and start writing about the thing I'm stuck on. In my case, probably not dialog but some poem that just won't get started.

    I write longhand for a while describing why I'm stuck, what some approaches might be to get unstuck, freewriting on the topic for a couple of pages. At some point in that process, something pops up that gets me started, corralling the ideas I need to get started. I continue on in prose until a first line--one that will probably disappear into the ether during revision--suggest itself, then a second, and then I'm unstuck.

    Right now, though, I just have to get that pile of books off the office floor, start that load of laundry, and run to Kings for some cereal, a loaf of bread, and some of those great peanut butter cookies.

    1. Well... we all have to do the laundry SOME time, right?!

      I love thinking of you corralling ideas, Art. Kind of a cowboy thing :-)

  2. Walking away the way I deal with a story when I'm stuck. My characters yell at me when it's time to return. Until the yelling starts, I let the story write itself in the back of my mind.

    1. I love that--the characters yell at you :-) Obviously, they are alive, and that's a wonderful thing! Thanks for the comment, and for reading our blog.

  3. When I get stuck on one thinb1 ,i turn my attention to ano!r. You have an interesting poocess" though. To each his {wn.

  4. I am more often too wore out to write than stuck or out of ideas. Then I realize it is because I don't like the way it is going. I usually head to the golf course or the state park for a hike. Funny how fresh air opens up my mind. Some of my best ideas start with pen and paper when I am away from my laptop. I always have more than one project going, if I am not liking one I turn to something different, and on rare occasions, it works! Ending in the dreaded exclamation point.


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