This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Monday, November 17, 2008

Writing When You Can't

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Ever had a day when you stare at the blank screen and nothing comes to you?

Or you stare at what you wrote the day before and you have no idea how to continue or finish it?

I’m having several of those days.

It’s rare that I get writer’s block. And even my inability to write right now isn’t exactly writer’s block. I say this because I know what I need to write, where the story is going, and I even have the next scene in my head. The problem is I can’t get it written down the way I want it to go. I’ve probably started writing this scene at least ten times, but I keep rewriting the same sentences because nothing sounds right. I don’t know why, but it isn’t flowing—and I need to flow. That’s how I write.

I’m going to try a few things that I’ve done in the past to fix this problem and I want to share a few of these ideas with you.

  • Tell the family I need to be alone to work through this scene. Often, I can write around my family talking to me and even with the TV blaring, but there are times when I need solitude. This is one of those times.
  • Get away from my computer. Right now the Internet and email is a huge distraction to me. This isn’t usually the case, but when I’m struggling with a scene it is too much of a temptation for me. I’m going to either have to write by hand on a notebook and type it in later or type in my story on my AlphaSmart.
  • Keep my sentences, even if I don’t like them and change them later. If I keep changing every sentence, I’ll never get anywhere. This is where my internal editor is kicking in and tripping up my internal muse—my flow.
  • Forget work related issues on my day job. This is harder than I’d like, but I’m trying. Work is where I spend most of my time, unfortunately, so it tends to creep up on my subconscious, even when I’m not there.
  • Forget my historical settings, descriptions and dialogue. I’m working on a contemporary now, think modern.
  • Remember that I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. Wherever my writing is weak, God will help me strengthen those weak spots. If I don’t catch it, my critique partners will. Let the pressure go and relax.
  • Pray for guidance, confidence and motivation. Allow God to be my flow. Write from the Holy Spirit.
  • Concentrate less on the mechanics and the “rules” and more on the story. What does my heroine want to accomplish in this scene? What does the reader need to know about her at the beginning? What hook do I want to end the scene on? What question do I want to leave the reader imagining? How do I want the read to feel after reading this scene?

    If you want to share some ideas, I’d love to hear them. In the meantime, I’m going to finish this scene.