I believe it was my favorite, Mr. Hemingway, who attempted to write absent of the tricks–which is one of the reasons why I love the man and his work. For the rest of us, there’s a bag of tricks, a toolbox (or an arsenal depending on your perspective), that we can reach into whenever we need a jumpstart. Different from full-blown writer’s block, or perhaps a lesser variation of it, getting stuck while writing is a common part of the process.photo

Sometimes all you need is a little knowhow to get back on your way again. These are but four examples from the bag of tricks:

4. When stuck, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If you’re slogging through the writing, your readers will slog through the reading. Does all that need to happen, or is there a way to impart the information in smaller increments and sprinkle them throughout? Can you add them in through a conversation?

3. My friend and SciFi writer Mike Kalmbach recently said, “When I get stuck, I look back through the story I’m working on and I write in a door.” He went on to say that sometimes the door gets used, sometimes not. But writing yourself options is always a good idea.

2. Some writers jump to a different part of the story—a scene they can clearly see in their minds–and write it out. Then they work on connecting this new writing to the place they originally left off. There’s comfort in this approach, not only in “writing what you know,” but in seeing those scenes completed, which goes a long way to building confidence to finish the trickier parts.

1. A bit like the perspective change above, some writers prefer to write the scenes toward the end of the book and working their way backwards to the beginning. Especially when writing mystery, this trick can work very well indeed. Some writers prefer more of a physical perspective change: writing from a different location, or even taking a moment to stretch out on the floor—literally, seeing from more of a dog’s eye view—to bring fresh eyes to a writing project.

The goal, ultimately, is to get the writing to happen. Perhaps, with great practice, we can all get to Hemingway’s “one true sentence” absent of all the tricks.
My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon.