Moving On When A Scene’s Kicking Your Butt

staring…. staring…. staring…. no words coming…. TIME TO MOVE FORWARD. New Scene Ahead!

I’m not worried about the long-term, because I’m definitely been here before and with almost 80,000 words this month, I’ve won NaNoWriMo with “The Esclavan Adventures” handily. But in the last couple of days, production on the novel has pretty much stalled.

I’m stuck on a scene between the princess and the guardsman she’s fallen in love with and it just feels totally cliché at this point. I think I’ll have to totally overhaul it, if not get rid of it. The problem is, this is a conversation that does need to happen. I just have to find a way to make it fresh, and I can’t seem to move on to the next scene and leave it to edit later, because I’m not totally sure what should happen in the next scene either. The really fun part? These two scenes are about totally different subplots. Yep.

I’ve been here before with other novels, so I’m not worried I won’t find a way to pull everything together over the longterm. The trick is to find a way to just keep going in the meantime. To continue making progress in some way, shape, or form. So, I figured I would write myself a list of reasons for me to move on to the next scene and let this one stew for a while. Honestly, there are lots of reasons it’s a good idea to move on from a particularly troublesome scene after a few days of tampering with it during a first draft writing phase.

NOTE: Everyone writes differently. What works for me might not be the solution for you. But these are the reasons I like to move on to something different when I’m stuck:

  1. RESTORE CONFIDENCE. Nothing zaps my confidence in myself and in my current work in progress more than feeling continually stuck, especially when the draft’s still coming together. Moving on is a great way to get more words on the page and remember that yes, I can write. Yes, this book will take form and I can make changes and fix things after. That’s what editing is for. Editing is not writing.
  2. STEWING WASTES TIME. There’s something to be said for taking a breather, thinking about a troublesome scene, and trying to find a solution. There’s a difference, though, in taking a breather and getting stuck, stuck, stuck. When you find yourself stuck, continuing to stew just wastes precious time. I’ve found by experience that solutions to problems with a draft tend to hit me out of the blue when I’m NOT worrying about it. Moving on allows for that to happen and lets you make the most of the time you have to write.
  3. EXPERIENCE HELPS. The more you write, the more experience you have to draw upon. So make sure you’re writing, not sitting and staring at the screen doing nothing. If writing means moving on to a different scene to be able to get words down, do it. If it means writing a short story unrelated to that troublesome WIP, do that. That’s good. They say it takes 20,000 hours to become an expert at something. That’s a lot of time and not easy to achieve. So don’t waste an opportunity to gain that precious experience!



5 responses to “Moving On When A Scene’s Kicking Your Butt

  1. In Stephen King’s “On Writing” he wrote it takes writing a million words to master the craft. That statement has remained with me, and feels true! Sure, he’s commercially successful and that somehow detracts from his literary chops, but he IS successful. Since I started writing seriously 8 years ago, I have left that millionK benchmark behind….growing in the craft with every paper crumpled and passage deleted . Great write and very perceptive. Also: exercise helps bridge the ‘bellums, stimulating creativity.

  2. I usually do number two a lot. It doesn’t help get through it, but it makes me feel better to spin my wheels on nothing. It’s something I’m trying to fix with my current project.

    Great post!

    • thanks, Brian! you’re so right: sometimes all we really need is a change in mindset. A more positive attitude to plow on through the difficult parts. For sure. That’s a great observation. Thanks for sharing!

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