Monday, July 26, 2010

A Chance to Be Creative

"When you're stuck, those aren't the worst parts, those are the best parts - they're your chance to be creative.

When you want to skip something because it's too confusing to explain, that's your chance to slow down and behold the truth that real life is complicated, real people are complicated. Skip for the sake of convenience and readers will sniff a fake."
~ Po Bronson



Being stuck on a section of a story - dialogue, description, setting, plot - is not fun. It's frustrating and often discouraging. For me, it breaks the flow. It feels like all the good stuff is pouring away, draining from my brain while I sit, unable to move ahead.

This is my feel-better-and-re-focus quote. It helps the heaviness of disappointment feel lighter, more necessary and beneficial. I read it a few times, and then I go back and focus - really focus - on what is causing me to pause. WHY am I stuck? Then I slow down, embrace the "complication", and dig for my creativity (usually by calling for the kids!).

How do you tackle the frustration of feeling "stuck"?

33 comments:

Al said...

I usually jump to a different part of my WIP. As often as not when I come back to the place where I got stuck, it makes a natural break in the narrative.

Does that make sense?

Mohamed Mughal said...

Move on and focus on one of the many other things in your life or watch a movie or go for a long, meditative hike or split an ice-cream sundae with your lover. Your intellectual break-through can (and for me, many times does) happen away from the writing desk.

Jody Hedlund said...

Awesome picture, Shannon! Totally made me chuckle! And I really love that quote. Sometimes I realize that by slowing down, I'm actually letting my thoughts simmer, and by doing so adding flavor and depth that otherwise I may have missed in the hurry of trying to cook the idea! :-)

Charmaine Clancy said...

Oh I love that picture!
But I agree with the quote - as much as I hate getting stuck, I usually find it's because my original direction was mediocre (which is why it came undone). Being stuck gives me a chance to solve the problem and create an overall better plot.
Great to have you back :-)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Oh wow! You're living in my head. Spooky. I live to be creative, and I find going for a run helps let the creative juices simmer. :)

Elaine AM Smith said...

I usually write the section in red so I can get the rest of the section written. Later when I go back fresh eyes or the events that have happened later, help me re-work the unworkable.

Aubrie said...

I go for a walk with my dogs, do some laundry, and then go back to it later on. Usually my mind works it out by then!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Firstly, that photo is SO cute! Secondly, I don't think I'm ever 'stuck', but more unmotivated. I usually have to take time away from my computer!

Candyland said...

When I'm stuck I let it go for awhile. Sometimes it's all I can do.

Jonathon Arntson said...

That photo will stick with me all week. Thanks!!

Diane said...

I guess for me, stopping and reflecting or going to something else for a while until the lightbulb goes off. :O)

Patti Lacy said...

I just plod on and FORCE myself to write.

Amazingly I don't usually have to delete ALL of it!!! LOL.

Blessings! It's so good to have you back where you belong!!! LOLOL

Patti

salarsenッ said...

Cutest dang representation of being stuck I've ever seen. Thanks!! I'm stuck, right now. Not sure how I'm going to get out of this hole other than to keep pushing forward. LOL

Natalie said...

What a great quote! When I get stuck I usually take a break for a few days and read something good. Usually the solution comes when I'm thinking about something else. Occasionally I'll get so stuck that I won't be able to get past a problem spot, so I'll skip it for a few weeks (or even months). That's a little more frustrating.

Jaydee Morgan said...

I'm another who has to force myself to continue on. I can linger far too long on what to do that if I don't do something, I can end up stalling for days.

Hardygirl said...

Great quote! I step away for a bit. Work on something else, go for a walk, or just go to the store.

But, eventually, you just have to push through it and figure out what needs to happen.

sf

storyqueen said...

What a super quote.

I really need it today. I've been stuck for about a week....still writing on the piece, but having to PUSH the words out instead of having them flow.....

Love this!

Shelley

Jemi Fraser said...

Love that photo! :)

I got stuck near the end of my last ms. It drove me batty. I ended up having to delete another chapter or two in order to find out where I was stuck.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Right now I'm stuck on Book #2, but I know it's because I didn't plan ahead- I'm an outliner! So my solution is to go back, read the draft from start to finish, and outline the last 15,000 words that are giving me fits.

Tere Kirkland said...

There's a scene I need to rewrite this week, but I'm not sure how I'm going to change it yet.

Last time I needed to figure out a change, I wrote down several other ways the scene could go. I remind myself that nothing's set in stone yet, and that helps me come up with multiple alternatives to choose from.

I know this method will work for my current scene, I just need to sit down and put the work into it. Once I have a bunch of alternate scenes, I figure out which one feels leads into the next scene the most naturally and which is best for character development.

It's hard work, but you can trick your brain into being creative! ;)

Valerie Geary said...

That picture is awesome! Epic!!!

I take a walk when I get stuck on something. If that doesn't work I freewrite long hand... something about the paper, pen ... it's all very tactile and inspiring.

DL Hammons said...

This is where helping my dad work on cars when I was a kid comes in handy. I absolutely hated doing it, but I did learn valuable lessons from the experience. One of the biggest was to never give up on a predicament. No matter how hard the nut is to reach or crack, it will eventually be overcome through perseverance, grit, and coming at it from different angles.

I do the same thing in my writing...realizing the solution will eventually reveal itself as long as I don't backdown and I try different approaches. :)

Catherine A. Winn said...

I recently got "stuck" and became very frustrated. I put the document away and got busy doing things out in the world. After thinking about it, a lot, I realized that this might be a time where I was probably stuck because of something that happened in an earlier chapter that led to this moment.
I cut and pasted that whole section into another document and saved it. Then in the original, I dumped the whole thing and began all over again at the original point. The words flowed! Three thousand words later, I dumped the other document. Sometimes the place we get stuck is a signal that a wrong turn was taken way earlier. Don't be afraid to go back and start over.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Thanks for the reminder, I'm in the midst of a new wip and in that "where is this going, help me" stage. lol.
If I'm stuck I tend to do something else creative, or read. Reading always awakens the flow. :)

Jackee said...

Brilliant quote, Shannon! I just added it to my quote file. When I'm stuck I take my plotting materials with me and soak in the bath. Usually I think of what needs to be done/changed. My husband laughs about my "think tank". But hey, it works!

Angela Ackerman said...

Awwww...I feel so sorry for that pooch!

That's how I feel when I get stuck, knowing something needs to be stronger but not quite being able to put my finger on 'what' it is. :(

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Usually when I'm stuck it's because I've taken the story in the wrong direction. One time I'd let a secondary character become too important and I found my story stuck. Once I realized what happened I had to delete a couple of chapters, but then the story took off once again. :)

Kelly said...

When I'm stuck, sometimes I give the scene some time and go back to it. Then I just force myself to try something, anything and I find that I should have just done that in the first place. It's more the fear of not coming up with something not that I really didn't have an idea!

Jennie Englund said...

That picture is one of the greatest things I've seen in my whole life!!!

Incredible timing, Shannon. Just yesterday, I decided to switch creative gears, and took up a big sewing project with my kids instead of writing, writing, writing.

We had so much fun! (See the finished product on my blog.)

What other things do you do to stay creative?

Medeia Sharif said...

I'll work on something else and return to the project later. Time away leads to better ideas.

Carolyn V. said...

LOL! That poor dog! Sometimes I just have to leave the part I am stuck on behind for a while and work on something else. Then I seem to figure out an idea that helps me get unstuck. =)

Vicki Rocho said...

Someone rescue the puppy!

I've been feeling stuck more than usual lately and I sorta painted myself into a corner. I (gulp) deleted about a chapter's worth and low and behold the dam burst and I could write again.

(okay, so I didn't really delete it...I cut and pasted it into my scene graveyard)

Mary Aalgaard said...

I like the idea of jumping over the stuck spot and worrying about connecting it later. Usually, it works out really well and is more like a quick scene change.

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