After writing over six hundred words, I reached a dead end. The additional paragraph I wanted to include in the article was not blending in and I didn’t know how to tie things up in the last half. I was so wrapped up in the story, it felt as if I was covered in knotted yarn trying to find my point. What’s more, the article was overdue and the journal’s publication date was quickly approaching. I was running out of options and time.
If this happens when I’m writing poetry, I can easily scrap the first half and start again whenever I reach a dead end but that’s a little harder to do on a tight deadline with half of a long piece already written.
Needing to go to a rehearsal, I decided to take a break. But, as all writers know, you can’t shut off a writer’s mind. I kept mulling over the problem until I grabbed a piece of paper and started writing a new introduction using a different approach. With this idea in hand, I headed home, scrolled down the page and started anew. This time, the words came easier and my point was a solid arrow instead of a knotted ball of yarn.
I know I’m not the first person to get stuck with a mixed up point and I’m certainly not the first person who needed to start over. The idea we originally started out with turned out not to be the best one. The introduction we thought was attention-grabbing is laborious and convoluted. It’s hard to let things go but sometimes this is what must be done.
When it comes to times like this, when we’re stuck and don’t know what to do, there are several ways to help ourselves out. These are four of them.
- Take a break – Sometimes we need to step back away from what we’re working on and regain a new perspective. Distance helps us find a fresh approach we hadn’t thought of before. Enjoy a cup of coffee, take a walk, go visit a friend, and come back to it.
- Cut out the first couple of sentences – When I decide to start a piece with a story, I have a tendency to include too much of the story and loose the point. By including less of the storyline, the introduction is better and the point more focused.
- Write what you want – Even when we have something we have to write, there can be something on our mind that’s getting in our way. Take a minute, write that out, then with a clear head, go back to what you need to get done. You’ll be more productive in the long-run.
- Don’t be afraid to scrap the whole thing and start again – It is better to start again than to keep banging your head up against a wall not getting anywhere. We can get so fixated on what we’ve already written, we have a hard time seeing the need to let it go and try again.
So go ahead! If you’re stuck, let go of what you have so you can grab onto something that works. We all need a fresh start sometimes.