Claire McEwen, hopeful romantic.

When You’re Stuck, Jump Around!

I write in fits and starts. Everything will flow for a day or two and then boom. I’m stuck. Staring at the page, with no idea what to write next. At times I am unable to string any coherent sentences together!

stuck computer screen

I don’t know why I’m like this. I think it’s because I write best with big chunks of uninterrupted time – but I don’t have that. As a mom, I only get small bits of time to write in. And I get interrupted a lot. So when I do get time to write, I often find myself staring at the page, totally disengaged from my story, my eyes shifting to the clock to make sure I don’t forget to pick up my son.

Whatever the reason for my stickiness, I’ve had to figure out ways to get unstuck quickly. Because deadlines don’t really care whether you’re stuck or not. And one way I’ve found to unstick myself fast, is to jump around.

Now I don’t mean jump around the room, though I’ve been known to blast some music and do just that. And it helps. Sometimes getting up and getting moving is all I need to inspire a few new ideas!

My dog Chauncey, demonstrating his version of the jump-around technique.

My dog Chauncey, demonstrating his version of the jump-around technique.

But what I really mean is that when I’m stuck, I jump around to different parts of my story. If one scene isn’t working, I’ll start writing another that I feel excited about. If I’m stuck writing dialogue and I just can’t hear my characters’ voices, I change gears. I’ll describe the setting instead, or maybe elaborate on a secondary character.

I also jump backward and revise for a while if I get stuck. That often helps me because I connect with where I’ve been in the story, and that can make the next steps in the story clear.

This might sound a bit odd, but sometimes when I’m stuck, I jump ahead to a love scene. A lot is revealed about two characters when they start getting intimate! Drafting that scene often makes me realize what it is the hero and heroine still need to discover about each other, or the trust they need to build, before they can end up in bed together.

Whether you write romance or another genre, I think jumping around is a great way to avoid the pressure and paralysis of figuring out what comes next. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

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