Checklist for unsticking my novel.

I’m making progress with my book. More importantly, I’m getting better at working through road blocks systematically. You’d think this would have happened several years ago, but no, the same immediate thought goes through my head: I won’t get through this and then all the time I’ve spent on the project will be wasted.

I love the idea of bypassing angst with a checklist. So, here goes. This is what the ideal me will do next time I get stuck:

  1. Breathe. An obstacle doesn’t make me a bad writer. I’ve taken on a challenge.
  2. Take the dog for a walk, praying for inspiration.
  3. Ask myself, “Can I articulate the problem straight-off?” Often this immediately points the way to the solution. This week’s conclusion: “X is lying flat on the page. She might only be interested in superficial things, but that doesn’t mean I should write her superficially. I need to understand her better.”
  4. Does this particular scene play a part in moving the story along or preparing the groundwork for something else to happen later? Can I remember what I was trying to do when I planned/ wrote it? Should I simply take it out?
  5. Do my characters’ actions make sense? Have I examined how they react to everyone else? Time for me to bring out my A3 pad and draw a mind map(s).
  6. Can I write my way through the problem/ tell myself I’m just jotting down notes for the real section?
  7. Would bringing a new character into this scene/ changing the setting add some life?
  8. Would changing the point of view help?
  9. Is my brain too tired to work these things out just now? Should I take a couple of days “off”? Amazing how many ideas present themselves when you’re concentrating on something else.
  10. Is it time to talk it through with my writing buddy? Frequently, another magic fix.

Personally, I love other people’s checklists. Hope this helps some of the writers out there (especially those joining Camp Nanowrimo on 1st July).

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