Writing Tip of the Week:  Not All Writing Should Be Easy

Sometimes we can find ourselves at a creative dead end when it comes to writing a chapter. Luckily, there are some strategies you can use to help yourself achieve your writing goals.

While I think creative writing should be a fun process, that doesn’t always mean that the process is easy. We often find ourselves getting stuck on a chapter, trying to figure out how to move things forward, even if we have an outline to guide us. You may find it challenging to start the story, figure out creative ways to present story or character elements, or even struggle to craft a chapter with a major plot point.

These are perfectly normal issues and challenges you may face multiple times as a writer. But know this: All writers face challenges with their stories. From new writers to best-selling authors, each story delivers its own share of roadblocks that must be overcome for the story to work.  

Let’s discuss some ways to overcome these challenges and keep your story moving.

Ask Yourself Questions

You’ve hit a wall. Things were going great, and then you came upon a chapter that wasn’t working. It’s an important chapter in the story, one that can’t be cut.  

What to do? If you wrote an outline for your story, you know what the chapter’s content is supposed to be. Take some time and write down some questions related to the chapter. Questions like:

•          What is the point of this chapter?

•          Who’s present in the chapter and why?

•          What’s the main conflict in this chapter?

•          How does this chapter move the story forward?

•          What does the reader learn from this chapter?

•          What do the characters learn in this chapter that helps the story?

By getting the answers out in a more clinical than creative context, you can see what the chapter is meant to achieve and give yourself more material to work with once the creativity begins.

Just Write It

Sit down, turn off your inner critic, and write the chapter. Don’t think about it. Just write it out. It doesn’t matter if it’s too long or short, or missing elements. The key here is to get something down that can be reworked and edited later. It does you no good to have the ideas trapped in your mind. 

The best way to work through the challenges is to see them in front of you on the page so you can revise and edit later.

Outline the Chapter

Break the chapter down into bullet points. Really work through each piece of the chapter’s puzzle and determine what happens from start to finish. If dialogue pops into your head while you’re doing this, add it to the outline.  

Give yourself a clear and detailed roadmap to work from once you write out the chapter. That way, the guesswork is gone, and you can focus on the creative elements.

Take a Break

Walk away from the chapter. Skip over it and keep writing. Sleep on it. Go for a walk. Give your mind a chance to focus itself elsewhere. In doing so, your mind can subconsciously work out the problems the chapter has presented.  

Oddly enough, this works very well for me. I’ve hit snags in a chapter before, stopped, and done something else, then suddenly, the solution strikes, and I run to write down what my brain is coming up with. Sometimes the best solution really is doing nothing.

Final Thoughts

Writing should be a challenge at times. If it’s too easy, it can get boring. Too hard, and you’ll feel like quitting. It’s that middle-ground of creative writing that you want to achieve. A place where most of the time, the story flows, the characters speak through you, and your descriptions transport the reader to a new place and time. But you also want to have moments where you encounter story problems. These elements make you step back and think about the best strategy to overcome creative challenges.

By asking yourself questions, pushing yourself to write the chapter, writing a detailed outline, or taking a break, you can find the solutions you need to complete the chapter and overcome the issues it presents.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!

Writing Tip of the Week: Resolving Story Hurdles

We’ve all been there at some point. Your story or outline are chugging along, you know where things are headed, and then…BOOM. You get stuck connecting the dots of how you can logically get your character from Point J to Point L without it seeming forced, ridiculous, or taking the reader/viewer out of the story.

Welcome to the Story Hurdle.

A Story Hurdle arises when you can’t quite back the easy leap to how two events in your story can logically connect. There can be several reasons for this, so below I’d like to offer some tips on clearing your Story Hurdle and moving forward with your narrative.

Plot Hole or Story Hurdle?

Essentially, a plot hole is an unresolved Story Hurdle. Maybe the writer accepted the story problem and hoped no one would notice. Perhaps they loved their writing so much that they ignored anyone who pointed out the issue.  

You never want to leave the reader or viewer scratching their head trying to figure out how something happened or how a character could get out of a jam or into one. If there’s an open-ended question to be answered later (like in a mystery or thriller), that’s fine. But make sure if there is a gap in logic that it’s responded to at some point.

Your job as a writer is to sew up these issues and figure out how to jump over these hurdles effectively and entertainingly.  

Ask Why?

You have a story problem. You like both pieces of the story puzzle that happen before and after where the issues seem to be, but you can’t put your finger on what the problem is.

It’s time to ask yourself WHY there’s a problem.  

Is it because what happens doesn’t fit the story? Isn’t something the character would do? Doesn’t fit the genre? Is too extreme a leap? Not strong enough of a leap?  

Taking a step back and asking yourself why the Story Hurdle exists is a good place to start to work to resolve it. Ignoring the issue could cause more issues down the line if the impact of what happens at the unresolved story issue now causes more hurdles to pop up.


You know what comes before and what comes after. You’re having problems moving forward, so why not move in reverse? Take things step by step and backtrack one moment at a time and see if you can reverse engineer your way out of the Story Hurdle.

Sometimes taking this different perspective can be helpful since it gives you – the author – a new way to look at the problem and see the actions and events in reverse.  

What happened before? And before that? And before that? And before that? Can you make your way through the perils of “And before thats?” to get to where you started?

Options, Options, Options

As an author, you are the Creator. What you decide is what happens, so you have the power to write down 10, 20, 50, 100 different ways that this Story Hurdle could be resolved. There are endless options that can be explored, from the boring to the ridiculous. 

You have unlimited ways for things to go to get where you need to go. Once you’ve exhausted all the possibilities, go through and highlight the most interesting and intriguing ones. Then go through and decide which makes the most sense for your character and your story.

Taking the time to work through possibilities will help you create a stronger link between the two story sections.

Making a Change

Sometimes you may have to admit that Point H isn’t working, and that’s why you can’t seem to find the needed actions to get your main character to Point J.  If this is the case, you may have to rewrite the previous story point or the one after the Story Hurdle to resolve the issue.  

Again, you can write out all the possible options and choose the best one. The key is to make sure what you write flows, has logic within your story, and moves the story forward.

Final Thoughts…

Crafting a solid narrative takes time, energy, and creativity. All authors can fall prey to devious Story Hurdles that can affect their momentum and confidence. By working through the problem instead of avoiding it, you can ensure that a stronger and more creative story is written and that plot holes are nonexistent.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!