Today’s pearl: Embrace being stuck
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” – Robert Frost
No writer enjoys hitting the wall. An impasse may come in any form. A plot that that won’t take the next turn. A character whose motivation you no longer get. An ending that fizzles instead of sizzles. As a writer, inevitably you’ll get stuck. And probably hate the experience.
But, as I wrote in an earlier post, Befriending the Wall, writers mature when we accept getting stuck as a natural part of the creative process. Our stories are mysteries we gradually solve. If they were obvious and came easily, how interesting would they be? Instead of becoming frustrated, angry, rattled, anxious or hopeless when we hit a wall, suppose we became…curious?
To embrace being stuck means to relax, slow down, invite your puzzle to visit for a while. Give yourself permission not to know the solution yet. Let the problem marinate. Play with it. Experiment. Here are three ways you might do that.
- Brainstorm out-of-the-box ideas, like Ten Crazy Things My Protagonist Might Do. Don’t rush to judge those ideas, just generate them.
- Do some research. Seek out more information about the issue that has you stymied. Don’t wring premature solutions from what you learn, just soak it up and add it to the marinade.
- Find a new perspective on the impasse. How would Stephen King solve it? Or Jane Austen? Is the problem a symptom of something else that’s off in your story structure? Open yourself to other ways of looking at the situation.