What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Write Next

 It’s a classic writing problem: you’re going along, minding your own business and writing the hell out of a scene that eventually finishes. You pat yourself on the back for a scene well done, but then realize in terror that you must do the impossible – keep writing and answer the dreaded question “What happens next?”
writing notesIt sounds like a simple question, really. At its most basic, writing a story is answering that question over and over again. But I found myself at this particular block last week. I had just hit 10,000 words in my fourth book and was riding high on getting to that crucial point.
But I didn’t know what to write next. I knew how the story was going to play out (vaguely, anyway), and I had ideas for scenes in between, but I was stuck in the middle of Chapter Two with not a whiff of what to write next.
So here are the things I did to combat writer’s block mid-chapter:
  • Walk away for a few days. It’s not my particular favorite thing to do, but it does help me remember why I’m excited about a story (or not. Both are equally important revelations).
  • Write anyway. Yes, it’s forcing a story, but sometimes I need to force a few sentences in order to get things flowing. It’s like towing a car in the snow. Eventually, you’ll get that thing out of the snowbank and back onto the road.
  • Start with a scene that you know and are excited about. Sometimes if I don’t know what happens exactly next, but I can’t wait to write about a scene that’s happening later in the book, I’ll write that scene.
  • Read. This is actually one of my favorite motivations. When I read something amazing, it makes me want to write something amazing.
  • Eat something. Really, this is my cure for just about anything.
  • Watch a random makeup tutorial on YouTube. This is probably not helpful at all.
  • Go back to my notes and write down details about the scene. Try to go back and plot out parts of the novel or the whole thing (if this has not been done).
  • Question whether or not this is a viable project. See first bullet.
Eventually, I found my story again through a combination of these tips. I know you will, too.
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