Still Searching for Story – Tips on the ‘Wilderness’


imagesCANPZSQ2 It is a situation that all writers find themselves in at one time or another, even the professionals. I now have just over 3 weeks to produce my short story that I have spent the past fortnight ‘thinking about’. I have scribbled down pages of ideas and character notes and yet none of them spark enough interest for me, let alone a reader 5000 words in…

It is a frustrating time. That has to be accepted and then brushed off. If you get mixed up in all that pent up emotion it is unlikely a character will ever appear (unless you are after a psychotic killer!) and you will find your energy zapped beyond a place of creativity.

Real writers get stuck. So put that in your mind instead – you are a REAL writer and it will come. Don’t switch off from it or turn your back on the problem. (Burying your head in the sand never works and could leave you with a very dry mouth!)

So what can you do? Be PROACTIVE! Here’s what I have tried;

  • Stay with the ideas. ChicagoMarketingCompanyIdea Keep scribbling the notes when they come. Themes, plot ideas, characters, situations, feelings, settings, random descriptions.
  • Keep thinking. Many writers create whole stories in their heads first.
  • Take a walk. You never know what you might come across.

A woman in one of my writing classes this Spring, told us a tale of her and her husband taking a walk in a wood. They were passed by some man who appeared out of the trees (she described him in great detail). They decided to investigate further and came across a stash of drugs – for her it was a notebook dream and she scribbled it all down (hence her detailed memory) whilst her hubby hopped from one foot to the other, itching to leave the scene before the man came back…. which of course led his wife onto writing more and more possible plot events!

  • Keep reading. piles_of_books-red I have been devouring books recently, not necessarily in the genre I hope to write in (always best if you have an idea where you are heading) to read books that will inspire you or fill the gaps.
  • STOP WORRYING! It will come (and the worst that can happen if it doesn’t is you miss an opportunity) many competitions are annual so make a diary note and get working on a story for next year. When the pressure is off you will proper find your mind fills with abundant ideas. So take your foot off the metal/ gas and slow down a little, you are your own worst enemy for piling on the pressure.
  • De-stress. Take a soak in the tub or meditate. Step out of your writing skin for a while and before you know it, your muse will come running back to you!

and finally…

DON’T forget to boil the kettle before you make your coffee… you may laugh… but I swear I can’t be the only one!


planning and structure

narrative structure and the writing process


6 responses »

    • Thanks Gwen, for many of us it is the same old story – but sometimes to hear other people are in the same boat, or be reminded that it happens to best-selling authors too, can give us a lil’ shining ray of hope!

      I hope to see you for the INKSPILL weekend, it will be fun and a time to create, the programme will cater for lots of needs and can be dipped into or taken as an entire weekend depending on how much ‘free time’ followers can manage.

      Oct 25th-27th – get it in your diary and gift yourself some retreat time 🙂 – Spread the word!

  1. Most of my writing is done in my head. Often when running.What gets me stuck is lack of time. As you know, I am back to teaching and its sucks the energy out of you. I worry less about writing poetry or even a short piece. It is the longer ones that I am having trouble getting my mind around!

    • Kim that’s a great time for ideas hope you manage to scribble them down when you get in.
      I hear you with the work thing. I rarely had energy, time, creative thoughts or the inclination. It took the changes in my life to open me up to the drawing board again
      Be gentle on yourself. Try to find small slots of time. And book yourself sometime for Inkspill at the end of October.

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