I’ve started a new book, and I was really excited about it for a bit. But the last few days I’ve been feeling stuck and less-than-motivated. And only on the third chapter! Oh, dear.
But I think I might have figured out some of the reasons why. And who knows, if any of you are writers feeling stuckish—or feeling stuck in any other way—maybe we can help each other! So let’s hammer this out together.
Reason #1: This is a normal part of writing. There are always times and places in a story when you feel stuck and less-than-motivated. I know it from my own experience, that of my critique partners, and numerous “conquering writer’s block” emails on the ACFW loop.
Solution to #1: I need to just dive back in and keep writing, “feel like it” or not. And also, not forget to pray. I literally prayed on my knees before too-many-to-count writing sessions with my first book—I was so very aware of my inadequacy, on my own, to write that story God had given me. I don’t want to lose that awareness now that I have “one under my belt.”
Reason #2: I don’t think I’m going deep enough with this story. I thought maybe the fault was in the story itself—that compared to my first novel, this one was too “light” and that maybe I don’t write light well. Maybe it would get better once I got to the Navajo Codetalker part of the story, I thought. But that seemed a while to wait.
Then I remembered how shallow my original first chapter of my first story had been. It wasn’t until my mom challenged me to dig into how I would feel if she died and my dad was remarrying—a place I was reluctant to go, but the situation my heroine found herself in—that it started to go deeper and get better.
And then I realized my new heroine is dealing with some not-so-shallow issues too—starting to fall for a guy when hopes of marriage and motherhood are blooming in a twenty-one-year-old heart is no small thing. Nor is having a younger sibling with severe health issues that affect the whole family.
Solution to #2: I may not have experienced exactly what my heroine has, but I have experienced things that should enable me to empathize with her—to not just tell her story, but live it through her eyes and heart. I need to be willing to go deeper, to be vulnerable and draw on my “emotional memory” as Brandilyn Collins writes about in Getting Into Character. (Hmm—probably need to pull that one out again!) It’s not the easy way of writing, and maybe that’s why I’ve been unconsciously staying too much on the surface. But I think it’s the only good way.
So—I guess that’s my game plan. Dive back in, with prayer. And with the Lord’s help and an open heart, be willing to put in the time and emotional effort to go deeper with my new character and her story. We can’t touch others’ hearts unless we’re willing to dig into and share from our own.
What about you? Any tricks or tips for when you’re feeling stuck on a project—writing or otherwise? Any of the above resonate with you? Please share!