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What to do When Your Writing Project is Suddenly Stalled

Life Sometimes Gets in the Way of Writing

This morning I was scrolling through Facebook and came across this question…

I was forced, by circumstance, to walk away from my WIP and now two months later am finding it difficult to pick up where I left off. What do I do?

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I had a very similar experience a few years back when I was pulled away from my writing by a phone call.

My mom had died. ๐Ÿ˜ข

I sat in my big comfy chair with my laptop perched on the arm, phone in my hand, as the life-changing event hung there. After the phone call, I opened my document to where I’d left off and wrote the next sentence….

“Grandma just died.”

I then closed the doc and didn’t go back to it for seven months.

Do You Want to Go Back?

This is a really loaded question because over time a WIP can loose it’s luster. The passion is gone and the energy is sucked away.

I don’t know about you, but I have stacks of half finished documents that simply no longer interest me. I keep everything in hopes of either finishing them one day, inserting them into another project, or reading them one day and being so inspired that I rip through and make them masterpieces.

Reality is though, you have to ask yourself if you’re even remotely interested in the project anymore and either dive in or let it go altogether.

If You Choose to Let it Go…

Don’t beat yourself up.

It’s not going anywhere–that is, unless you erase it completely from your life! If you do that… I promise, you’ll regret it.

Make up a file, physical or electronic, and place the work in there and walk away. Let yourself ruminate on the idea of it bubbling and brewing all alone. You don’t need to touch it, read it, share it, or heaven forbid, work on it.

Be Elsa from Frozen and ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽถ Let It Go….. from your brain…not the computer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Three Ways to Relax Back Into the Project

For me, when life happened and I needed to walk away from my work, it didn’t really leave me. It lingered and clung to the outer reaches of my writer brain.

If there’s one thing you can’t do, is force the muse to show up and participate on a whim but you can allow yourself to relax back into the work.

I believed in my project. It was a story I’d wanted to write for a very long time. So when I finally got back to it, I took it slow.

Here are my suggestions.

First

Read your wip from beginning to end. Don’t make any corrections, edits, or additions. Just read it.

Chances are, it’s better than you remember.

Second

Reacquaint yourself with your protagonist. Say “Hi”๐Ÿค— and hang around with them in your writer brain.

“Talk” to them. Ask them about the larger picture within the story. Discuss what direction they should go and what would make them deeper characters.

Now I know this may sound a little off the wall, but your characters are within you and they will show you the way if you allow them to.

Even at night, when you’re falling asleep or are in a relaxed, meditative place, watch them. Note how they move, sound, and react. Let them show you.

Take it slow. Ruminate. Don’t rush the process.

Third

Reread your wip again.

This time though, skim it quickly. Let yourself fall into it. Immerse yourself and be open to allowing those characters to communicate again.

When you get to the point of where you left off, continue.

It may be in a different direction than anticipated, but that’s the exciting part. Get out of your own brain and into the minds and hearts of your characters, and it will happen.

You’ve got this.

Full Circle in Life and WIP

So, I ended up writing my mom’s death into the story I was working on. Is that weird? Idk.

The story is young adult so I made it the main character’s grandmother, instead of my mom, who died.

It did end up taking the story in a completely different direction.

I’ll post some of it soon so you can see where I went with it.

In Conclusion…

A work-in-progress, is just that, a piece of unfinished business.

No one can tell you what to do, which direction to go or what to do with it, you’re in charge.

Ditch it. Metaphorically of course–because writers don’t throw any work out, right? Right?!

The other option is to ease back in when you’re ready. There’s no time limit. There’s no rule. You’re the boss. Pretty cool, eh?

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6 thoughts on “What to do When Your Writing Project is Suddenly Stalled”

  1. Hey, Faye, well said. I’ve got piles of unfinished manuscripts, too. Maybe we can trade? ๐Ÿ™‚ Also, unfinished sewing projects, unfinished paintings, unfinished relationships. Let’s hope that if I ever get back to them, I’ll know how to finish them with skill or abandon them with grace.

    1. lol…Oh Aggie. You’re too funny. I find it so difficult to abandon with grace… I’ll leave something sit for years and grate away at me. lol xo

  2. Learning when to let go or just set something aside for a while has helped me avoid burnout so many times! There are times when I start writing something I love, but then end up in a place where my passion has waned and I want to start something else, so it is important to know when to move on. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hi Jaya! You are so correct. Knowing when to move on and actually accepting and doing are the key. Just set it aside… It’s not going anywhere. Hope you’re having a great day. Thanks for stopping by. So appreciated.

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