It doesn’t matter whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, everyone gets stuck in their writing now and then.

I’m sure you’ve read so many articles on writer’s block filled with so many suggestions (hell, I’ve written one myself). Go for a walk. Plot your story. Look at your story structure. Take a vacation. Talk to a friend.

These are all great ideas, and you should absolutely do them! But what if none of them works? What if you’re still stuck?

First, look at what you’re stuck on. Is it a scene that you just can’t write, and until you get it written you can’t move forward? Is it the story not advancing in the way you’d imagined? Are you simply bored?

If it’s a particular scene, think about it. What is it that makes this scene so hard? Is it the pov character? Do you know them well enough to write this scene from their perspective? If not, do a little method writing. Get into their head and free write. Whatever it is they want to say, let them say it. Let them go over where they are in the story right now, or perhaps they want to talk about their childhood, or that ex they just can’t get out of their mind, or the last case they were on that wasn’t resolved in a satisfying manner. Whatever it is they want to talk about, let them.

Once they’ve talked themselves out, then you can nudge them toward the scene you need to write. Ask them how they see it? What they think of what you’ve planned to happen. What about the other characters in the scene—how do they feel about them? Or… you could simply write the scene in the first person (whether the whole story is written in first person or not – pronouns can be changed later). Write it from deep within the pov character’s mind and see what happens. But only do this after you’ve spent some time with this character, otherwise they may balk, and you’ll still be stuck.

If your story is not advancing the way you thought it would or you just don’t know what should happen next, stop for a moment, and look back at what you know about protagonist(s). What do they want? What do they need? Why are they not getting it?

You know that your protagonist needs to grow by the end of the story, do you know how they need to grow? What lesson do they need to learn? If not, now is a great time to discover that. Once you know this vital piece of information, the story is merely how they get there. So, think about what needs to happen for the character to get from where they are now to where they need to be at the end of the story. Who is going to get in their way and how? This is your story. Revisiting the very basic information very well may help you start moving forward once again.

And finally, what if you’re just plain bored with your story?

It happens! It happens more often than writers are willing to admit. You’d thought you’d come up with a fabulous idea for a book. You were sure the characters were going to be deep and nuanced and interesting. But then you actually started writing and, well, they’re not. And the story really isn’t all that interesting after all.

What do you do?

Well, there are two options. The obvious one is to set the story aside and work on something else. Perhaps later—in a few months or even a few years—you’ll find the story on your computer, and you’ll take another look at it and go back to writing it.

On the other hand, you could always go back to what got you excited in the first place. What was the kernel idea that made you think you had a story to write? Find that again. Examine it and build out from there. In other words, allow yourself to get excited again. Getting to know the story and the characters even better will help with this as well.

Getting stuck as a writer is frustrating! We have all these stories and ideas inside of us just clamoring to get out and it just isn’t happening. But it’s not the end of writing for you. It’s merely something you need to take the time to get through. It will take work—perhaps even lots of work. But you can do this. You can get past this block, past being stuck. And you’ll get back to having fun writing your story once again. Just watch those words flow…