Dead end writing– how to find your way out


It’s a common writing pitfall — writing yourself into a dead end. Like a locomotive, you are chugging along, gaining speed and then, all of the sudden, your writing begins to lose steam. What was once a

dead end writing

(Flickr: Shankar S.)

steady pace is now a painful slog. And no matter how hard you try to get yourself back into high gear, you just can’t seem to gain traction.

Read: Six superstar qualities of successful writers

So, you’ve written yourself into a corner. Frustrating? It sure is. But, there are fixes for such a thing.

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Avoid dead end writing

  • Ask yourself if you have stayed true to the integrity of your characters’ true path. It could be that you have detoured away from your original intentions because the story is taking you on some new journey. Go back. Read your narrative up to this point and reflect on where you veered off course toward the dead end and why. It could be that you are now on some newer, better road.
  • Consider whether or not you are still passionate about the story. If you aren’t then that is a big warning sign. Dead end writing doesn’t just happen. If you have lost passion and focus, then your reader will, too. Think about possible new character pairings. Or this might be the time to toss in a plausible, but mind-blowing shift in the plot to keep everyone awake — including yourself.
  • Be prepared to revise or completely delete any sections or chapters that have led you astray. It may be just a paragraph or a very simple few lines that have slowed down your pace and muddied up your overall vision. Be brave — cut the offending passages.
  • Step away and gain some clarity. It could be that it’s not your story, but your writing soul that has hit a dead end. Writers are human, after all, and we grow tired. The time away may help you gain some real perspective.
  • Reach out to a trusted writing colleague and ask for their input. He may have experienced his own writing dead end and have thoughts on how to guide you. Or let him actually read your manuscript and offer an unbiased, fresh look at where he thinks the story will or should go. This will give you a clue to where and how to adjust the narrative accordingly.
  • Finally, dream. Literally ask your subconscious to reveal a new path as a you dream. This is a very real way to tap into your own intuitive spirit to recapture the direction of your story and the power of its message.

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at EducatedWriter.com and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at kerrismabee.com.


Kerri S. Mabee

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