The muse wandered off because something shiny caught their attention and you're left staring at a blinking cursor wondering what the fuck to do. Are you mid-way through and still doubting this is even going to be something better than a piece of crap? Are you at the very beginning of something that was awesome in your head and you started but then had to stop and now you're wondering where the hell this is going? Me, it's always the damn sex scenes that sends the typing coming to a screaming halt and then getting it up and finished without it being the same scene I've written before and making it hot and interesting. I fumble, I take my eyes off the page and jump on Twitter, Reddit or even worse binge-watch on Netflix until the middle of the night as I'm trying to fall asleep and the whole scene falls out of my head but I'm in bed and it's a little after one am and I pop another Xanax and fall asleep. Then the next time I try and sit down and write the scene that fell out of my head last night is nowhere to be found.
Some of these are things that I've picked up (stolen) from others and some I came up on my own, none are guaranteed.
1. Write something else completely, don't start another story! (I have three half-written stories doing this, bad, don't do it.) Write a blog post, this has gotten me far ahead a few times and it gets the words coming and the juices flowing. Maybe you keep up with friends via email, write the email. Writing exercises I like and are relatively short is one where you describe something in the room so that if you read it to a blind person they could see. Another short exercise I like is write a letter to someone just writing about your day, what did you do how did you feel throughout the day or do it as if it were a journal entry.
2. Write something about your characters, there is a writing exercise to list 20 things about your character that never make it into the story, i.e. they broke their arm at eight while learning to ride a bike, they've never broken a bone, never had a cavity, love thunderstorms. It further builds the world you are creating and helps you see your characters more clearly. Maybe write the blurb as you see the story working out.
3. Keep writing but skip the part you are stuck in. Do you have another scene that you see clearly? Write that and then come back to where you are stuck.
4. This is the one I use the most and works the best for me (I am a procrastinator and pressure works for me best). Set a timer and just start writing even if it doesn't sound right or look good (there's this thing called revision) don't stop writing until the timer goes off. For me ten minutes is the perfect time, knowing it will go off soon but not too soon and anything more than that gives me too much time to daydream. When the alarm goes off read through and change or if it's so bad that won't work just reset the alarm. For me by the third time I set the alarm it starts to flow all on its own.
5. When you sit down to write, give yourself a word count goal. Give yourself a reward for hitting your word count like time on Pinterest, Reddit or Twitter or even television. (This one I stole and don't really believe in, your reward is a finished story, but for some people this works).
6. Set a word count goal every day or the days or even by the end of the week, and if you meet it the reward thing or if you don't meet it, loss of distractions. (Again this kind of thing doesn't work for me as the moment someone tells me no, I say yes.) This was an idea I stole.
7. Read something, this is a double-edged sword. If it's too good then you can get a little doubtful of your own ability but for me it helps because it gets me in the mood and I want to be as good or better than the writer I usually read. (It's the competitor in me)
8. Don't write, yes, I did say don't write. If you're having a hard time, stop. Get comfortable on the couch or the big smooshy chair and daydream your story some more. Think about what you've written so far and does it work? How do you see it end, how and what will it take to get there? Don't force it, just think about it and then when it feels like you've got it. Get up and write. (This will hopefully stop the 1 am story flowing)
9. Mood music anyone? Do you listen to music when you write? Maybe try it if you don't and if you do try listening to something that reminds you of the story or scene of feeling a character is going through.
10. Change your scene, or create one. Do you usually write on the couch or comfy chair? Maybe create a dedicated space to just your writing, even if it's the dinner table. If you have a dedicated work space, change it up and try the local coffee place or even the library (free wifi, and no $6.00 cup of coffee to purchase).
11. Step away from the computer and maybe do your yoga, take a walk or get your time in on the treadmill. Get the blood flowing and for me, my mind works on the story as I plead for the timer to count down my time on the treadmill.
12. Remember the most important fact, a writer writes. A writer who doesn't write is a cranky, miserable person and even if it feels like you can't, it won't be good, it will be the most vile thing anyone's ever read. Sit down and write and don't stop. Anyone can start but it's the finishing that separates a writer from a wanna-be. No one says you have to write the great American novel, not every sentence will be perfect, not every page will flow, just write and then when you are done, you will rewrite.