From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Past The Wall

It's writing time. You put on a comfy t-shirt, turn on the Michael Giacchino station on Pandora, and begin. Starting takes a little while, but after about 50 or 100 words you start getting into more of a flow. The goal is 1000 words, but then at around 650, you hit the wall. It just stops coming. You try plodding, but nothing really happens and everything feels contrived. So what do you do?

The obvious answer is to take a break. I think this generally is a good idea. Go on a run, get something to eat, read, just get away from the computer for a while. Then you come back revitalized and more ready to keep going.

But what if you only have a short time to write to begin with, and can't afford much of a break? Perhaps mini-breaks would work; grabbing a granola bar, taking a quick lap around the room, reading a poem. Maybe. But, assuming I'm not the only one who experiences this, what do you do to kick things off again? How do you push through successfully? Maybe a change of scenery or something. I really want to make some good progress on my novel, and that means I need to be able to get past the wall.


Sarah Allen


  1. Umm...I got nothing sorry. I suffer from this too, which is why I'm reading this instead of writing right now!

  2. it takes me a MONTH to get through that first chapter. Seriously. But I don't sweat it because I know once I'm over that hurdle it's usually smooth sailing. Just keep chipping away until the dam breaks:)

  3. I know exactly how that is! Here are some of the things I've tried:
    Taking a break and doing something non-writing related
    Switching from computer to pen/paper or the other way around
    Changing stories. Work on a writing project completely different from your original focus.

    Hope you find something that helps!

  4. Argh, I hate this. I also have a set amount of time to write and if it's not flowing I get angry. I agree with Halli, switching to pen/paper works sometimes :)

  5. I go back and edit what I have already written in that particular project, it helps get me in the mood.

  6. I don't agree with editing until the first draft is finished. I believe it to be a trap that causes books to never get finished. I know several people who ask me how my writing is going and I tell them. They universally say, "that's great! I went back and rewrote chapter x of my book." I can't help but shake my head and wonder why they are rewriting chapters to books that are not finished yet.

    As for getting past walls or blocks... I don't run into this problem too much because I have anywhere from 100-500 word outlines for each chapter so I know where the story is going.

    However there have been a small handful of times that I get stuck. When this happens and I finally notice that nothing has moved in an hour or more. I skip to the next chapter or scene and continue on. I write that I skipped it down on my followup list to be the first things that are revisited after the end.

  7. Hi Sarah, I found your blog from someone else's and just wanted to say that nothing works better than exercise for me to push past those writing walls. Exercise, especially running, takes so much physical energy & focus that it completely empties my mind and releases so much energy so that my mind ends up being like a clean slate, ready to make a fresh start when I get back to the computer. Good luck with your novel, and if you'd like, please check out my blog about living the simple life

  8. While I edit and take notes on the novels/stories that I write (I have a full time day job, so quite often during breaks and lunch I'll do this), I find that in order to break that wall, you have to be overly passionate and motivated about that novel.

    I've started about four novels and finished exactly one, and that's because I was overly passionate and extremely motivated to finish it, so I buckled down and wrote through the blockage until I was able to find my groove again.

  9. Okay, this is going to sound silly but - I take a shower. Something about standing in that hot water turning my next scene (or whatever I'm stuck on) over in my head seems to get things flowing again.

    Sometimes I'm the cleanest old lady in town.


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