Hey Writers, Slow Down

I joined a very active writing group on Facebook where authors of all stripes (published and yet to be published, self and trad, seasoned and fresh) can ask questions about anything writing related, from plot twists to book blurbs to sentence structure. I like that most posts get 10+ replies and many go into the triple digits as the conversation builds. I like that, for the most part, people are polite but pull no punches. We could be a little more tolerant of the spelling and grammar errors since we have a lot of EAL members, but hey, no group is perfect.

One thing I am noticing is the number of people looking to the Facebook hivemind to do their brainstorming for them. Not just help them with a sticking point (is this detail or that twist believable/plausible) but entire chunks of plot.

For example:

64 years old married man, in a search of new husband for his 55 years old wife. What could be the reasons?

how do i start a feud between brothers

how do I start a feud between a male and female friends

I want to end a relationship in the book I’m writing but can’t come up with a good enough reason, any suggestions? I want something that will completely traumatise the guy.

(Description of character set up and scene)  I stuck there. I am not able to come up with conflict. Could you guys please suggest for further?

My advice to these authors? SLOW DOWN.

If you’re an outliner like me and you’re hitting these roadblocks during the outlining stage, take a break. Take a walk, do the dishes, talk to a friend about what you’re planning and why you’re stuck – not online, but in person, out loud. Let it sit in your head for a bit. Work on something else for a while. Skip that part of the outline and jot down what you know. I’ve been stuck like this, I have interesting projects on the back burner because they’re stuck exactly like this. I have a character and no plot yet so I let it sit.

If you’re a pantster (someone who just writes with no outline) and you find yourself frequently stuck to the point of abandoning projects, maybe you need to try outlining. If you have tried outlining and it’s not for you, try the same tips as above: take a walk, talk to a friend, do a mindless chore, have a shower, let it sit, let your mind mull it over. I’ve been here before too. I get up and stretch, run through my taekwondo patterns, make a snack, write a different scene and come back to it.

We’re obsessed with productivity (I’m one to talk, right? Setting word count goals and project deadlines like a mad woman) but we’re allowed to have slow days. When I’m stuck on my novel I work on my memoir. Or I work on world building and catch the words up on a later day. Slow down. You don’t have to complete an entire novel every month. You don’t have to be the fastest. Slow down and think for yourself. This is YOUR story, YOUR novel, write it the way you want to.

And don’t worry about your productivity speed. I’ve been waiting 7 years for the next George RR Martin novel to come out. Write at your own pace, and take time to recharge your creativity. Do your own brainstorming because the book is ultimately yours.

And yes, when all else fails, that is what a writing group is ultimately for. But I get the feeling that the second these writers hit a snag they jump on Facebook yelling “bail me out! This is hard! Give me the answer!” Writing is hard. It takes a lot of braining. Creating is exhausting and draining work, no matter what or how you create. Recharge, slow down, take breaks, let your mind wander at its own pace instead of the pace the world has set out for it.


7 thoughts on “Hey Writers, Slow Down

  1. Yes! I have a hard time responding to those because I don’t have any context. Those big pieces are your job as a writer. I get some of my best ideas while running and/or walking on the treadmill away from the computer.


  2. you’re nicer than I am, I tend not to respond. I also see way too many people wanting an answer to something they could look up themselves (how many planets can I see at night, what color do you get when you mix blue and yellow?) When I asked this sort of question as a child I was told to look it up for myself. I think…it’s been a LONG time since I was a child


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