All writers, whether brand new or seasoned veterans, get stuck sometimes. Even those of us who outline extensively before we begin sometimes realize the plot is simply not working and a new approach is needed. But getting stuck can be paralyzing, especially for those of us who struggle with our inner critic’s assurance that we’re about to crash and burn at any moment. So having some solid strategies for how to handle those sticky spots will certainly come in handy. With that in mind, here are five tips for pulling yourself out of the rut when you’re stuck.

Sometimes getting unstuck means thinking outside the box. For instance, when you totally don’t know what should happen next, Pixar studio artist Emma Coates suggests making a list of all the things that couldn’t possibly happen next. When creating such a list, don’t be afraid to be completely silly and outrageous as you add more and more and more things that couldn’t possibly happen next. With each item you add, think about why that thing won’t work…or maybe it will get your book to go in a fun new direction like the Caldecott honor book Leave Me Alone! by Vera Brogsol. This kind of thought makes you look in directions you’ve never considered and really forces you to examine any expectations that are keeping you stuck. Sometimes we’re stuck just because we’re mentally considering something impossible when it’s really exactly the right way to go.

To hear all 5 tips for getting out of your writing rut, listen to the full episode!

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