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5 Steps To Take When The Writing Gets Tough And You Want To Quit

5 Steps To Take When The Writing Gets Tough And You Want To Quit

You’ve reached a pivotal point in your story, book, or poem, and you realize—you’re stuck. Or maybe you’re in the middle of an intense writing project like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and you’re losing steam as you approach the finish line. Just when you need inspiration and motivation the most, you’re sinking under a pile of crumpled drafts and random rewrites.

Take heart: It happens to the best of us. Before you decide that your only option is to give up, try these simple steps to get back on track.

1. Admit you’re having trouble.

The best way to begin fixing a writing problem is to admit you have one. Tell yourself, out loud if necessary, that you’re stuck on your project and you want to stop writing it. Once you’re no longer putting your energy into fighting the possibility that your current piece is going nowhere, you can focus on how to move forward.

2. Determine WHY you’re stuck.

Are you struggling with gaping plot holes? Difficult characters? A poem that doesn’t convey the message you’re striving for? When you define and pinpoint your problem, you may find it’s not the big, insurmountable roadblock it first appeared to be.

3. Go back to the basics.

Simple prewriting exercises can refocus your attention and recharge your imagination. Remember, your writing begins even before you put your hands on the keyboard. Find out more about the many prewriting rituals that are available to boost your creativity.

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4. Switch to writing or revising a different part of your work.

If you’ve hit a troublesome part of the story or poem, don’t keep running into the same wall over and over. Skip it! At least, temporarily. Instead, turn your attention to a different section of your work—one you’re excited about writing. Then, when you’re ready to go back to the trouble spot, you’ll find that a fresh perspective will make it easier to break through and continue writing.

5. Work on writing a completely new piece.

When all else fails, this may be the only way to save your WIP (work in progress). Don’t discard your project, but walk away from it indefinitely. Write something else, and maybe make use of some excellent writing prompts! After you build confidence, become comfortable again with the act of writing, and get back into your creative groove, you may decide to return to that troublesome project.

But what if it really is time to quit? Sometimes, writers follow a path that at first seems promising, but ultimately doesn’t go anywhere. And that’s okay! It’s good to explore and take risks with your writing, but it’s also good to know when something you’re writing isn’t working for you. If you’ve tried one—or all—of these steps and your piece still isn’t working, shelve it. But don’t EVER delete your writing, even when you’re convinced you’re quitting a piece for good. Weeks, months, possibly even years from now, inspiration may strike and you’ll realize the perfect solution to your current quandary.

The key is to trust that your creative instincts are leading you in the right direction, even if that direction is to put down what you’re working on and write something entirely different.

Photo by marvin L

Writer QuestionsQUESTION: What do you do when you’re about to quit writing a particular piece?

11 Responses to 5 Steps To Take When The Writing Gets Tough And You Want To Quit

  1. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you might be a great author.
    I will remember to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage continue your great writing, have a nice weekend!

  2. Writing is a discipline. The stimulus and the words are alone not sufficient.The pen is poised and so is the paper, yet the nib has dried away.What will happen to the ink within I keep wondering….

  3. Leaving the work at hand, taking a break, is rarely a productive approach for me.

    It won’t strike anyone as overly exciting, but I sit and just try to pound the words out.

    Relax, don’t look at the work so seriously because you will come back and edit anyway. Foremost, just get some words down.

    I find the more I sit, the more I pound, the more I just get words out, the more the Muse stops in for a visit. And the piece gets written.

  4. I usually leave it and either skip to another section of the story, or switch to one of the other books I am working on. AT the moment I am writing both contemporary and historical romances and sometimes it helps to switch timezones/styles. And there is always promotional work/admin/social media to distract me too…

  5. The writing process is a tedious one; change and unsatisfactory results are all apart of the process. I often come across many challenges in my writing, whether it be me being clueless as to what to write next or simply disappointed in the whole story, I move onto another writing project. My mind is constantly racing with new ideas that I always desperately NEED to write down. So when stuck, I move on to tending to another piece.

  6. When I’m reading to quit sometimes I talk to someone else about what I’m writing to get me more excited about it. I might stop writing altogether for a few weeks. As my income doesn’t depend on writing, I really want to enjoy writing, a break is as good as a holiday :)

    Otherwise I plow on through for another ten minutes and actually focus. Generally I can keep going after that, if not, I identify the problem. Be it tiredness, disinterest, or distraction. After I identify that, I can fix the problem :)

  7. Sometimes I read a book, sometimes I take a bath, sometimes I have a glass of wine. There is no one-size fits all. I take solace in knowing that none of my poems will ever be finished, but some of them will be published. After your diversion, just sit down and put a few works on paper or the screen.

  8. I usually start writing about something new and feel excited and refreshed again. Problem is I like most of them enough to try to develop each into at least a short story. Sometimes, I feel as though my life has been too diverse. Truth is, it really has been and continues to be. All the different aspects of this life have been learning experiences and most have been enjoyable.

  9. It varies. Sometimes I work on another piece; sometimes I do something mechanical but involving writing, like e-mail; and sometimes I take a break completely and watch an old movie on TCM. The point is, not to get stuck.

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