What to do when you're stuck and the words won't come...

by Regan Walker

Author of the Agents of the Crown trilogy

As writers, we’ve all experienced that unfortunate time when the well of words dries up and we sit staring at our computer feeling stale. To me it comes midway though the story as in my current release, Wind Raven, the 3rd in my Agents of the Crown, a seafaring pirate romance. Argh! I think when that happens. I’ve hit the wall—again.

So what to do when that occurs? First, I should tell you I’m a pantster—I do not have an elaborate plot all drawn up when I begin. (I envy those people.) Usually I have an idea for the characters and the beginning. The rest is magic. So, I thought to share what I do to help me get writing again. Perhaps you will find one of these helpful. And I’d love to know what you do!

1. First, I go back and edit the last few chapters, sometimes I go all the way back to the beginning. Along the way, I pick up new ideas, so when I hit the end of what I’ve written the next words sometimes just flow, along with the next scenes.

2.Sometimes, I just force myself to stay at my computer and put words on the page, saying to myself I will come back and fix whatever is wrong tomorrow. Surprisingly, I find I have less to fix than I’d first thought. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, I pat myself on the back for being willing to slog through the difficult parts.

3.When I can, I might skip to later scenes, maybe even the end if I have a thought of how I want to bring the threads together. Often those out of place scenes fit in just fine with I get to them.

4.Since I’m an author of historical romance, I might dive into the history a little deeper to see if any ideas come to me. My stories are driven by history and real historic figures so this can give me an idea of a new scene or a new character.

5.I go to lunch with one of my critique partners and tell her where I’m stuck. She may suggest an idea that has me saying, “Yes! Great idea.” And then, when I get home, I can’t wait to begin writing again. I always take pen and paper to those luncheons so I can capture the idea as we are discussing it.

6.I might read a book. Somehow diving into an absorbing romance written by someone else takes me out of the stuck place. It works like greasing the skids. But I don’t reach for this too often as it takes me farther away from my own story.

7. Lastly, when all else fails, I take a break. I take a walk with my Golden Retriever, go shopping, listen to music (which often inspires scenes), or I bake (yes, I love to bake; you can see a few of my recipes on my website). There’s always Facebook, and email too, but I do those most days so they aren’t much of a break.

The point is to do whatever you can to move past the blank page—past that place where nothing is coming to you.

I would love to know what you do when you hit those rough places, so do share!

You can buy Regan's new book on Amazon
and Barnes & Noble!