The secrets I am about to reveal are known only to those who have suffered and triumphed over a tricky non-compliant novel.
In other words, anyone who has ever written a book.
I’ve yet to meet a writer who says, “Oh yes, it’s easy. I just sit down to write and it all goes tickety-boo until I write The End. The real difficulty is getting paper into the printer.” (Please feel free to set me straight if you are that writer.)
Nothing drives me madder than a room full of aspiring writers whining, “I get halfway through my book and then I get stu-uck.”
Well of course you get halfway through and get stuck. EVERYONE gets halfway through and gets stuck. Even the people writing My Magic Unicorn and Secret Lives of Football Wives get halfway through and get stuck.
It’s what happens.
So here are three things to try:
1. Walk away. For a few hours or a few days or even a few weeks if it’s really bad and you’re not on a deadline. Set your brain on autodrive and think about your problem every night before you go to bed. Say the words, “How will I solve this problem, oh brain?” as you turn your light off and if you’re really lucky and you practice enough, it will occasionally answer you.
2. Do something inspiring. I favour movies, theatre, art galleries, trying to convince my nutty horse to work nicely, watching my dogs chase squirrels on the heath. It sometimes takes more discipline to get up from my desk than it does to sit for another 24 fruitless hours. Brains benefit from refreshment, by which I do not mean Oreos.
3. Write through it. Sometimes the only answer is to stay at your computer and force yourself to write another chapter. Accept that it will be terrible and that you will have to get rid of it. But the subconscious has an endearing habit of slipping a little piece of illuminating dialogue into an otherwise useless piece of writing. OH, you will think when you see it. That’s helpful.
And when all else fails,
4. Give up. We don’t need more competition. Really.