When You Get Stuck in Peanut Butter

This is my analogy for writing along your merry way and then getting mired down in the middle, attempting to slog through to the end, and end up thigh-deep in the Fire Swamp or, as Jim Butcher aptly calls it, the Great Swampy Middle. Me, I feel like it's taking a big bite out of a peanut butter sandwich and having half of it stuck to the roof of my mouth as I struggle, gagging and scraping to get it out. (This is why I should depend on other people's analogies and not my own.)

But we've all been there and I've heard a lot of great advice about getting out. Here's some of the top picks:

1) Break up your routine: write somewhere new or at a different time from your usual habit
2) Get physical: take a walk, ride a bake, hike a trail, go to karate class: get oxygen to the brain
3) Do something rote: wash dishes, wash your hair, iron (bonus points for getting chores done!)
4) Switch your art: instead of writing, go to a play, a museum, listen to music, dance, sculpt, sing
5) Talk it out: a very understanding friend or critique partner is worth their weight in Lindt
6) Surround yourself with excellence: go to a conference, day event, or writer's workshop
7) For plungers, outline: go back and see where you're going & where you've been
8) For plotters, no-mind: shut off the brain and just dive in, knowing you'll cut back later on
9) Change gears: either skip ahead to a scene you know is coming or write a short story, song, or poem
10) Read: pick up a book that does what you want to do & does it well!

There. That ought to get the brain cells firing!

Whether it's a marker on a road map or a really big spoon, use whatever you can to get yourself out of the muck and keep writing! Have another one to share? Leave it in the comments. We all need a little help along the road to The End.

P.S. And if you haven't read Jim Butcher's incredibly generous informal guide to writing, I'd advise doing that for a start!


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