But that being said, whatever you want to call it, we all get it at times. We just don't know where to take the story next. Sometimes we just don't know what should happen next in the story; sometimes we know what should happen, but not how to write it in a logical sense; and sometimes we know where the story needs to go but can't figure out how to nudge the characters in that direction.
So when you are stumped...what do you do?
Find Out How You Write
I cannot stress this enough! Find out how you write. It's so simple, and yet really hard.
You may have to take a writing break and try a few different methods. But I promise, it's worth it.
A few years ago, I went on this journey myself. I had been writing stories for years without an outline (or a plot, as was often the case). I would simply get an idea and start writing. And, sooner or later, I would get stuck with no idea where to take the story.
So I started rigorously planning. I did character sheets and journals. I wrote out my main plot and side plots. I did a chapter-by-chapter outline. And boom! I finished two books, and got halfway through a third. I was no longer getting stuck.
Sounds great, right? Should I continue being a Planner?
No. I didn't enjoy the writing at all. Each chapter was short and to-the-point. I strictly followed my outline and moved on, never stopping to just enjoy the characters. My writing voice sounded forced (and it was).
So I tried a mix of planning and pantster. I wrote a synopsis of everything that I knew about the story (what started the character on her journey, a few things that pushed her on and gave her a hard time, and how it all ended). Then I wrote a page for the MC (and some side characters) in their POV. Then I unleashed myself to write the story however I wanted, having a synopsis to keep me more or less on the right track.
A number of enjoyable, easily finished drafts prove that this method works for me.
This method may not work for you. That is perfectly fine. I can't use an outline, but my best friend does, and it works great for her.
I do, however, encourage you to try out different things. Try writing an outline. Try not writing an outline. Try a different outlining method. Try journaling. Try sketches. Try writing nothing at all. Try planning out every detail.
This may take some time, but just keep writing. After all, the trick to getting better at writing is to keep writing.
Knowing how you operate is key to getting a draft finished.
Start A Fight
Question: What do you do when you really are stuck, and just don't know what to do?
My favorite answer: start a fight.
I can't tell you how many times I've used this. Even with my synopsis outline, I can get stumped. I don't write every single detail down (I like to give myself some freedom to figure things out as I go). So every so often, I'll stare at the screen and ask, "how do I get from where I am to what happens next in the story?"
If I can't figure it out in five minutes or so, I just start typing. Usually I start a fight. Someone accidently elbows another person. A horse gets startled by something. A spy jumps out of the shadows with a drawn sword.
If you don't know what happens, just do something random and go from there. Ask yourself, "what's something that'll really ruin things for a character?" and then do it. Ruin their lives a little. They'll get over it. :)
Just remember, I can take all that out later or fix it during editing. But I need to keep the story moving along and get it finished so I can edit.
The Enter Key
A couple times, when I was stumped, I just hit the enter button a few times and picked up where I knew what to write. This is a last resort for me, and I only do it when I am having trouble with a scene (not the entire plot). It may be considered cheating, or you may find yourself doing it too often, so use with caution. But you can always go back and stick in more details later, once you know the story better and know what should go there.
So what to y'all think? Was that helpful? Do you know how you write?