Writing blog series #6 How to get unstuck when writing – 50k words for NaNoWriMo 2019

Been here before? Skip the intro and head straight for the main piece of work then 😁

1.1 Intro

I’ve been asked by someone for a post about how I did NaNoWriMo. 

Firstly, I’m a newbie when it comes to writing. My 2017 NaNoWriMo project was my first one and I had no plan and no clue what I was doing or should be doing. Since then I have done plenty of research, attended classes, practised, read my work out loud, workshops, and more research. 

This blog series will be about my journey to creating a story from idea to the first draft via NaNoWriMo and beyond. Hopefully, you will get some ideas too on how to do your project. The series will go every Monday from the 16th September all the way up to the start of NaNo with the last post on the 28th October just in time for the start of NaNoWriMo. 

I plan to go through all the major aspects of storytelling: the idea, the world-building and plotting, outlining and writing. In all these, I will share how I did it and all my resources. I will move on to how to prepare for NaNoWriMo, how to complete NaNoWriMo and how to get un-stuck. The series will end with me sharing the first 800 words of my NaNoWriMo 2018 projects, slightly edited and spellchecked. 

Other posts:

  1. The Idea – NaNo 2018 experience + resources for 2019 NaNo – 16th September 2019
  2. The world and character – NaNo 2018 experience + resources for 2019 NaNo – 23rd September 2019
  3. The outlining and writing – NaNo 2018 experience + resources for 2019 NaNo – 30th September 2019
  4. NaNoWriMo prep – How I prep for NaNoWriMo 30 days of writing 50k words – 7th October 2019
  5. Undertaking the challenge – 50k words for NaNoWriMo 2019 – 14th October 2019
  6. How to get unstuck when writing – 21st October 2019
  7. First 1200 words of my 2018 NaNoWriMo project – 28th October 2019

Disclaimer; I have no background in writing and I do not know what I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it and that’s what’s matters. I’m also getting positive feedback on my writing which should indicate that I’m doing something right. 

6 Getting un-stuck

During my writing periods, there were a few times when I just didn’t know how to get from A to B. During NaNoWriMo, this is not something we have time for. After some trial and error and some research, I found two ways that worked for me but there are an endless amount of things to do if these don’t work for you

6.1 Ask what if?

  • what if he stumbles and falls down the stairs? 
  • What if he says something he shouldn’t have said? 
  • What if she doesn’t share what she is thinking? 
  • What if it goes wrong? 
  • What if the enemy ship shows up on the horizon right about now? 
  • What if something blows up? 
  • What if a mist rolls in? 
  • What if she dies? 
  • What if… etc.

6.2 skip it and proceed to the next thing

Leave a note to yourself saying *missing bits* or *something something something* and move on. You can work on that later. Maybe it will even come to you while writing something else. NaNoWriMo is not for wasting your time dallying, it’s for getting the words onto the page ASAP.

Skipping it is my favourite way but this only works if you already know what going to happen. An outline is therefore very handy. If you don’t have an outline or you don’t know what going to happen then go for option 1. What if…?

6.3 writing community

Having a writing community is good too. As previously mentioned in other posts, NaNo provides you with your local writing group. Some of these have meetups and writing sessions. They are not there to teach you how to write, they are there for you to meet likeminded people who are in the same situation(/dump) as you. We are all struggling together. If you have a problem, reaching out to your local group and they might help. Maybe you can turn up to a writing session and brainstorm with someone.

Some people also hosts virtual write-in on YouTube. These get announced on twitter by NaNoWriMo twitter account usually before NaNo starts so you can schedule it in your calendar. These are sessions for you to join other writers and write together. To see how many words you can get in 10/15 minutes (writing sprints) or to share your work/ideas. Some sessions add writing prompts for their sprints. For example: try and add an animal into your next scene, or add a song, or make someone angry. You don’t have to comply with these but they can be fun. And it’s fun to see what others have managed to do. Remember too, this is not a competition! This is fun and should be a challenge to get 50k words not to be the best and the quickest. You don’t win anything.

6.4 social media

In the end, if there is anything you want or need just search for it online. You need to figure out who a character is as they have just entered your story and you don’t really know them and therefore don’t know how they will react? Try and search for “character building” on various sites, of “character worksheet fiction writing”. Pinterest is a good resource for anything writing-related as well as art and image inspiration. There are plenty of videos about writing too, and several authors with a YouTube writing platform. For instance, there is Jenna Moreci, Vivien Reis, Kristen Martin and several more who post vlogs about anything writing and being an author. Just don’t fall down the social media rabbit hole, there is no time for that.

At the end, having an outline that I could follow helped me the most when I got stuck writing. It’s about being prepared and having a plan. Unless you don’t like planning, then skip it and just dive in 🙂

Good luck!

6.5 resources

On the NaNo webpage, there is a page for your local writing group. I have not attended before, but maybe this year is the year. I did think that last year too though… But it can be a great way to meet other writers in the same situation as you both to socialise and to get inspiration and maybe some writing is done.

There is also tons of information on NaNoWriMo’s Resource page. There is also the forums on NaNo page which is filled with info.

For more tips and skills surrounding outlining, story building, endings and opening lines you can do a google (or any other search engine) search, look at the worksheet I linked previously from E. A. Deverall’s webpage

There is also some sessions on outlining, plotting and building the story in Brandon Sanderson’s Web lectures.

Until next time, keep writing 😁

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