Elle James · procrastination · writing advice


For the past 2 weeks I’ve been stalled (some call this writer’s block, I prefer stall) on a book I’ve been writing. I’ve always been good at pushing through and getting it done and giving advice to others on how to get out of a stall, but this time it seems harder than before. I attribute the reason for the stall to a lot of factors:

1. I stopped writing it 7 weeks ago to go on a 5-week vacation

2. My daughter is home from college and I can’t get time alone for long enough to focus

3. I have other obligations to update websites for an art group

4. My dogs interrupt me all day long

But the truth is…

5. I think the book is too slow, too boring and the mystery is not coming together and I don’t want to dig in and figure out how to fix it.

Bottom line is that I’ve lost faith in my book. Well, that ends today. There is no magic pixie dust I can sprinkle on this creation to pull it out of the muck. It needs elbow grease and dedication to make it happen.

It’s Monday, the beginning of a new week, the week I finish this book. Today I will break that stall and charge forward. I will figure out how to juice up the action, lay in the clues and who the big bad is so that I can charge forward and meet my deadline.

I am the only one who can do it and I can’t wait for it to “happen”.

Anyone else know this feeling? Anyone else know of a better way to fix a broken book other than to dig in and make it happen?

9 thoughts on “Stalled?

  1. Boy, do I know that feeling.

    If you haven’t already done so, I would suggest passing it off to a reader for their thoughts. I say a reader, and not a fellow writer because a writer will overthink it (as I am sure you are) and try to find a fix for you. A reader will just tell you what they think of the story plain and simple. The sticking point is probably less sticky than you think.

    Good luck! You can doooooo it!

  2. I am not a professional, however with my own experiences of stalls and lost faith in a story I always seem to need to remember what sparked the story to begin with. What was the inspiration. Remember, you are off from a long hiatus and that does two things, it gives you perspective and it also removes you from the inspiraton. Grab that inspiration again, then finish. Afterward, find where things slump and slow and make the fixes, but first…finish.

  3. Sometimes if I’m writing, and my story becomes less than what I hoped for, in other words—blah, I might try to step back and imagine the story turning in a different direction than I first planned. I ask the questions: What could happen to the character/s that I didn’t initially imagine? What could happen that would challenge/stir the character—physically, emotionally?

    As a follower of you and your sister’s mentoring, I’ve learned the value of plotting. This helps prevent a lot of stalls because you have a pretty good road map before starting to actually write the thing. But usually, my outline ends up being just a guideline. My characters rarely cooperate completely with my initial plan. LOL

    I enjoyed your post. It’s good to hear even those with great success can suffer the ailments we all suffer occasionally.

    Wishing you the best with your story. I know it will be another great tale!

  4. I recently started a story. After writing the last paragraph I have on paper (on computer??), SLAM. No more words came to my head. I printed out what I had. Made some corrections and minor changes, then prepared to pick up where I ended. DEAD SILENCE. Still nothing rattled in my brain. I finally decided to submit those first few pages to the Roses Colored Glasses Critique group (a GREAT critique group). The feedback I received told me all I needed to know. The story just wasn’t working. So, before I had invested a lot of time to my story, I tossed what I had and started over. Now the words are coming fast and furious.

    I guess the point of what I’m saying is this. I think sometimes the block is our head’s way of saying, “I’m not sure this is working.” Luckily, we all have the mighty delete button. Revision is the salvation of all good stories.

    Myla, one piece of advice you gave me years ago still haunts me. “You can’t revise a blank page.” You’re so wise.

  5. I have no golden words of wisdom, as I haven’t finished a book yet. But I am with Mags, get a non writer to read what you have so far, it may not be as far gone as you think it is. Take a step back and then try it again. I know that you can get Amy Fendley

    1. It would help if I can quit coughing long enough to finish a sentence! I was trying to say that I know that you can get it done!

  6. Oh, how I struggle with lost faith. Sadly,.I more often doubt myself than the actual story, if that makes sense, but the end result is the same. I like your resolution to finish anyway and wish you luck. Just push on. And though it’s in your way, now, those of us treated to sharing your 5 week travels through photos are all appreciative of your time off!

  7. Made notes today and adjustments to several areas in the story and now I have a direction to move forward. Tomorrow I’m making pages!

  8. Thank you for sharing- I’ve been stuck on a scene for a few days now. I jumped ahead and wrote to the mid point, but It seems to take hours to pull one short paragraph together for this scene. In the plotting I now it is needed, It’s giving the hero and heroin a glimpse of what life could look like right before the rug gets pulled. The rug pulling was easy but this seems to be so slow. Tomorrow I’m going to wake up early, before everyone else and seat down, stay offline and write. Good luck!

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