Written by Sarah Yoon

map nanowrimo

The holidays are on the horizon, packed with treats and temptations. When all you want to do is bake, you might just find yourself falling into a flour-smudged delirium. Sure, you’d have blackberry cobbler, pumpkin pie, and maybe a few chocolate dipped cranberries to show for your time, but sugary goodness isn’t the best method of fighting procrastination. It’s easy to get stuck in a creativity lull even when the end is in sight, so let me guide you through a few ways to knock you back on track:

Changing location

The most obvious switch up is to get away from your desk. Bring your writing to a park, library, or coffee shop. A change in location can help jog a few ideas loose from your cranium. However, if you’re stuck where you are, devote a few minutes to cleaning. Clear your space of clutter and send those empty coffee mugs back to the kitchen. This will refresh your brain and give your space a new energy.

Switching Mediums

Change from typing to handwriting, or vice versa. Maybe go a step further and illustrate a scene. Stick figures will do; just add whatever details come to mind and something new might come of it. To keep this from devolving into mindless doodles, write a few pointers on the side of the page or set a timer for yourself.

Verbalizing your story can become a medium in itself, as you dictate with a recorder. If you don’t have a handheld recorder, you can use iMovie, Skype, or an App. This might feel awkward at first, but take your time and talk through the scene. Ask questions, make verbal notes, and of course tell the story. When transcribing, fill in the holes and keep track of any miscellaneous notes.

Taking Notes

Instead of stopping and researching every bit of information, write notes to yourself. Word’s comment system might be more visually appealing, but noting within the main text streamlines the process. Each jot mingles with your paragraphs, set apart by brackets and a searchable cue such as ‘Note:’ or even ‘xxx.’ This way you address issues as they pop up and you keep your mid-scene momentum.

Switching Scenes

If your story is genuinely stuck, step away and switch to a different scene. You can jump back to fill out an underdeveloped altercation or jump forward to create a satisfying resolution. Supplementing earlier work will help you know what material you’re working with and help push your forward, whereas writing the ending will offer a tantalizing goal. Which ever direction you go, you’ll be ready to attack at that sticky scene with a fresh perspective.


Want to read more? Check out “Hitting that Word Count” or “Speed Prose: Five Scene Essentials.”