Some days, I stare at my work in progress (WIP) and think one of the following:
*I don't know what happens next.
*I can't finish this, it's too big for me.
*I know I've got something screwy with the plot/conflict/setting/characters, but what?
*My WIP is a POS.
*I have no idea how to do this!
I think all writers have those days. Writing is such a solitary endeavor. No matter how many critique partners we have to share our load or how many supportive readers we have who love our stuff, the reality is that if we don't find the words, the story will never be finished.
How do we power past the doubts, the paralyzing realization that we've just written ourselves into a corner, or the blow of another "this project just isn't right for us" letter? How do we refocus when the ideas run dry, the words sound cliche, and the characters all start to sound like cardboard cutouts of themselves?
Here's what works for me:
1. Keep writing. Nothing fuels doubts more than inactivity.
2. Call a critique partner and brainstorm. Sometimes just talking through vague ideas or possibilities with someone who understands writing and gets your voice is enough to solidify the course of the novel in your head and get you excited about writing again.
3. Keep writing. Even if all you can eek of out yourself that day is a page, it's still one page closer to finishing and you have silenced the voice in your head whispering that you can't do this.
4. Network with other writers. The writing process itself is a solitary pursuit but the rest of this life doesn't have to be and surrounding oneself with others who are driven to put the voices in their heads down on paper can be refreshing and motivating.
5. Keep writing. Writing produces more writing which fuels more writing until the ideas are sparking, the words are flowing, and the passion is burning again.
6. Change it up. Do a few creative writing exercises outside of the chapters you're writing. Write letters from one character to another. Write scenes that happened before your novel takes place. Write a prologue for another project... =D Get your creative juices flowing again.
7. Keep writing. I may have mentioned this one before. If you stop, it's hard to find the inspiration to start again. Besides, inspiration is a fickle beast. Determination is much more effective.
8. Approach the problems that trouble you using Courtney's "because" method and get to the bottom of what isn't working so you can fix it.
9. KEEP WRITING. Nothing matters - your ideas, your creativity, your characters, your talent - nothing matters if you don't keep writing.
READER QUESTION: How do you move beyond doubt, discouragement, or dry spells in your writing?