Seven Steps to Solving your Writing Dilemmas



Ever been stuck in a hard place with your story? … Too paralysed to go forward? … Too petrified to delete or go back?

Maybe you don’t know where your plot’s going? … Or your plot’s not working hard enough? … Or perhaps the reader is not identifying with or caring about your main character?

As writers we have a repertoire of strategies we can tap into, to unravel our writing conundrums.

First we must recognize there is a problem and inject ourselves with confidence, believing we CAN solve our writing dilemma.

That we have the ABILITY to do it.

I’ve utilized these trusted strategies, to unblock fear and rethink a new way out.

Step #1 Write down what the problem is. Brainstorm and mind-map all the possible solutions.

Step #2 Connect with our writer’s intuition, your own gut feelings.

Step #3Skip ahead in your story. Make a note to come back later.

Step #4Swap to a different writing project until you get an inspiration.

Step #5Recheck the problem against your planning, the story arc graph & summaries of all your scenes

Step #6 Meditate on the solution. Sleep on it. Next morning percolate possibilities whilst you’re walking briskly.

Step #7Turn to your writing buddies for advice. Ask them to critique your work with that particular quandary in mind.

Please remember NEVER GIVE UP. Keep writing every single day 🙂
Many of these strategies can be adapted to solving personal problems too.

What writing dilemmas have I solved utilizing these Strategies?

In the early stages of drafting Kids Sci-fi, JOSH AND THE IT, Josh the super hero achieved his goals, one by one. Far too EASILY! I needed a series of Brick Walls trials to challenge Josh, to build tension and make his final victory sweeter. I brainstormed every possible conflict and challenging situation, internal and external, that Josh and the Super Space Kids could confront. They would have to prove their merit as super heroes. I then sent out this tighter version to buddy writers for critique and feedback … They suggested even more BRICK WALLS trials and tribulations!

What strategies do you engage to solve your writing problems?

I’d LOVE to hear about your experiences.

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12 comments to Seven Steps to Solving your Writing Dilemmas

  • Barry

    Thanks Karen,
    Love this Post with simple and practical tips to take the writer out of the dolrums, and empower him/her to improve their writing.

  • Graham Clements

    I once read, and I think the crime author was serious, that when he got stuck he killed one of his characters.

    I don’t often get stuck, not for long anyway when I am writing, because usually I have the plot worked out in my head well before I get to writing it down.

    If I get stuck I know I can’t skip ahead, because if a problem exists it will nag at me and distract me. I don’t really have any set strategy besides rearranging the words, staring at the screen, staring at the wall, or just stopping for the day.

  • Joanna Gaudry

    Great advice, Karen. You have it all worked out. Another delightfully succinct post. All the best, Joanna x

  • Thanks Barry, Every writer must work out their out repetoire of strategies that work for them. I’m sure writers have many which overlap. Good luck with your writing :))

  • Thanks Joanna, Fabulous to see you here again. So glad your eye surgery was a success! Take care xx

  • Hi Graham,
    I agree with so much that you are saying. I’ve killed off a character or two to make my plot and remaining characters stronger.
    And I can’t SKIP the problem for too long either, as it keeps bugging me till I resolve it.
    We all must find the strategies that work for US!

  • Hi Karen,
    Thanks for the suggestions!
    I normally have to put whatever I’m stuck on aside, work on something else and go back to it or sleep on it, like you suggested. My husband has a knack of inventing characters out of the blue to solve problems but, by doing so, he creates other problems to solve. What an imagination he has! We edit each other’s work and there have been a few occasions when I’ve had to undo his newly invented character and help him problem solve in a different way. Never a dull moment with us! I think we are blessed to be able to support each other and write/edit together.
    Your last suggestion of turning to writing buddies for advice may be one I’ll try in the future. It would be interesting to get more objective advice and tap into another’s creative solutions.
    Best regards! Jean

  • Hi Jean, Fabulous to connect. Thanks so much for dropping over to check out my Blog on writing dilemmas.
    Thanks for sharing on how you and Jon work as a writing and editing team. Inspiring.
    I belong to many critique groups and I LOVE how a fresh pair of eyes can identify and solve the problem.

  • Heather Golding

    Hi Karen, Great blog, great suggestions! Especially your idea about writing buddies, and critiqueing with a fresh pair of eyes! Since you critqued my first chapter, I have now been able to look at the rest of my manuscript, through different eyes, and am working at re-vamping my ms, using many of your suggestions and ideas! Thanks again. Kind regards, Heather 🙂

  • Thanks Heather,
    So glad I was able to help you as a critique buddy with your manuscript. Fabulous to watch your confidence grow as a writer. Wish you every success !!

  • Thanks Karen for the great advice! It’s easy to put the manuscript aside but you’ve given lots of practical tips to solving our writing dilemmas.

  • Thank Renee, Glad you found the advice helpful. As writers, we must find creative ways to keep persevering with our manuscripts. Good luck with all your picture books and your new projects :))

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