The Murky Story Bog

Thinking about writing your novel way more than actually writing it? Also known as the sophomore slump, the 35k-45k word drag, the “you’ve lost that loving feeling” phase of any story crafting, this monster loves showing up during a long haul story. You still think your manuscript is good, but you don’t want to spend all your time with it; in fact, it is a challenge to make yourself spend any time with it, actually writing it. You find yourself spending time blogging about it, talking about it, thinking about it, obsessing about it-– but not actually writing it.

The question then becomes– how to get past this phase? How do you return to the “I love this so much and everything else in my life is a necessary (but sort of annoying) distraction?” honeymoon?

I do not know that you can. Familiarity breeds contempt, and there is no place that this is more true than in a marriage and a manuscript. But, do not fear! There are a few things you can do to spice up your writing life. These tips might make you want to romance your manuscript again (with chocolate and foot rubs, preferably).

  1. Add a subplot. Do you have a secondary character that seems as if they want to get involved in something outside the main storyline? Let them. Two of your characters been exchanging longing glances across crowded rooms? How about developing that attraction a little more with some stolen gropes and steamy smooches.
  2. Obstacles! Every book needs a few good obstacles. A time limit until something awful happens. Life disasters such as sickness, car wrecks, suspension from a job. Just having extremely bad weather can be a major obstacle, one that enhances your plot and makes you interested again.
  3. Utilize a writing prompt. The internet is full of writing prompts. Find one and insert one of your characters into it. Tada! You have a better idea of that character and their motivations, and that can help you get excited about your story again. Bonus: You can often use the prompt somewhere in your story.
  4. Read a book or watch a movie in your manuscript’s genre. This can be useful to remind you of the reasons you love writing. Also, sampling the creativity of masters of the craft (or at least excellent journeymen) can inspire and motivate you. Just don’t fall into the trap of comparing your (very) rough work to their finished product. Yours will never look or seem as good.
  5. Just write the d*&^# thing. Finally, the best way to slog through the storytelling bog is to just sit down and WRITE the freaking thing. All the writing prompts, subplots, and sexy caresses can’t move your story along until you sit down, minimize distractions and put your fingers on your keyboard.

Any other suggestions that I missed? What do you do when you are stuck, or experiencing writers slump?

4 thoughts on “The Murky Story Bog

  1. All excellent suggestions. Just stay in it; I often make the mistake of “taking a break” and working on something different, like a short story or essay. The problem is, I never get back to a novel, and it remains unfinished or in rough draft. I think I’m better suited to short works, as I just can’t seem to stick with a novel. I admire those who can.

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