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Hi, I'm Christy. I'm an author currently working on my debut novel. I'm also a wife, a techie, and a film buff. On my channel I talk about all things storytelling, great books, and what I've learned on my writing journey.

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#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop - 20 Writing Exercises to Get Unstuck

by Christy Shuler Mar 16 2020

From time to time, it's inevitable that in between those days of ever-flowing creative genius, writers are bound to hit roadblocks. Whether big or small, tiny bits of dialogue, or entire scenes and chapters, sometimes it can feel like an impossible task to carry on. We're just stuck. And while we will eventually work through it, I've discovered through my bouts of feeling stagnant, that there are often ways to accelerate our creative process.

For this month's Author Toolbox Blog Hop topic, I'm compiling a list of 20 creative writing exercises to get unstuck.

1. Try another scene and come back later. A number of things could be affecting your ability to write a certain scene, including your emotional state, health, sleep, etc. Sometimes the answer is to simply take a break and return when you're in the right frame of mind.

2. Take out a sheet of paper and write by hand. Writing by hand is known to engage the entire brain, which is why journaling is so often recommended by mental health professionals. It helps you work through problems that you're struggling to resolve. This is probably my #1 go to when it comes to getting unstuck in my writing.

3. Look at your Pinterest board (or make one). Images are a great way to spark your creativity and inspire lots of various emotions, characters, settings and themes for your novel. If you're looking for some inspiration, check out my Pinterest boards here.

4. Listen to your music playlist (or make one). Music is another favorite of mine for getting inspired to write. How is it that an artist can write something so personal, often with lyrics specifically crafted from their experience, and yet so many relate to them? Music touches us in ways unspoken, which is why I feel it's such an incredible tool for inspiring our own thoughts into words.

5. Set a timer and free write for 20 minutes. Most likely, by the time it goes off, you'll want to continue writing.

6. Pick a writing prompt from Pinterest, Twitter, Google, etc. 

7. Invent a new character. If you're feeling compelled to mix it up, see how this new character might inject new life into your story.

8. Ask yourself if your POV character(s) were someone else. Is it possible that your story needs to be told through the eyes of another character?

9. What if the hero was really the villain? Or vice versa.

10. Talk to a confidant about your story and get feedback. I've learned from experience that when I've hit a wall, sometimes a fresh perspective is exactly what my story needs.

11. Ask yourself what is the most exciting thing that can happen right now. Author James Scott Bell refers to this as the "chair through a window" method. What if a character were to suddenly pick up a chair and fling it through the window? Sure, it might be overly dramatic for the given scene. But by brainstorming exciting scenarios, you can always scale them back until you've arrived at a solution.

12. Pick two characters that don't naturally interact and force them into a scene together (stuck on an elevator together, rely on each other to get out of a dangerous situation, etc).

13. Journal about what specifically is getting you stuck. Sometimes it's hard to know exactly why you're stuck. This is when I find it the most helpful to journal. Start by asking yourself how you're feeling and why you're struggling to continue. You'd be surprised how effective this exercise can be.

14. Refer to books on writing to help. I've compiled lists of my recent favorites here and here. Click here to watch my Top 5 Books on Writing video.

15. Ask yourself what you love about your favorite book. Can you find a way to incorporate some of those magical elements into your own story?

16. Write out your scenes on flashcards and lay them out in front of you. Sometimes it's easier to get hands on and identify the problem with the right visuals.

17. Skip over it. Whether the problem getting you stuck is dialogue, description, or an entire scene, try skipping over it until your creativity is flowing again.

18. Draw or dictate the scene instead of writing it. If the words aren't coming to you, consider if there's another way to collect your thoughts and get a better sense of what you're really trying to say.

19. Is this scene even critical? What would happen if you took it out? Consider if one of the reasons you're struggling is because it doesn't really fit the story you're trying to tell.

20. Ask yourself what inspired this story in the first place. Returning to that initial feeling could help ignite that creative spark and get you back on track.

What's your favorite way to get unstuck in your writing? Let me know in the comments!

This post is part of the March 2020 Author Toolbox Blog Hop, hosted by Raimey Gallant. Be sure to check out the rest of the awesome bloggers here!

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