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Stumped about What to Write! Ask Questions. Take a Walk. Get the Answers.

Image Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

Image Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

“Stumped! Ask Questions. Take a Walk. Get the Answers” by Joan Y. Edwards

If you are like me,  you can be writing along. You are making progress. The words are flying from your mind to the page.  But, something happens. You’re stumped. You don’t know what to write next. Your character, plot, or setting has a problem and you don’t know how to solve it. You don’t know what to write next in your story.

Before you stop writing, ask yourself questions about the next part of your story.

Write questions that will give you the answers you need to write the next part of your manuscript. Don’t ask why you can’t do something. How can I…? What will…?

  • How can my main character get in trouble with her sister?
  • What personality would clash with the grandfather?
  • How can my main character face her fears?
  • How can I write a pitch in one sentence for this story?
  • What are 3 possible endings for this story?
  • What will keep my readers on the edge of their seats?

Now highlight your questions. Save your document as question journal for title of your book. You can also use 3″x5″ cards or a spiral notebook.

When your questions are finished, leave the room. Take a walk. Call a friend.

Do a chore or two. Wash the dishes. Water your plants. Mow the grass. Feed the goldfish. Wash a load of clothes. Put a load of clothes in the dryer. Put away a load of clothes.

Rest in your easy chair.

If it’s late at night. Go to sleep.

The next time you sit down to write. You will have the answers. If not, perhaps you didn’t ask the right questions. If so,

Reword the questions.

Now take a short walk and focus on finding the answers.

If you still don’t have an answer to the questions, go back to the computer or your spiral notebook and brainstorm ideas. List any and all possible answers that come to mind.

Brainstorm. Don’t judge your ideas. Write them down.

Here are ideas to get you started:

If you need something tragic: Use weather, traffic, illness, fear, mistaken identity, fraud, robbery, death of a close friend.

If you need something joyful:  Use a baby, birthday, anniversary, dinner party, movie, sports game.

If you need something difficult to achieve: Use a promotion, graduation, getting a new job, learning to ski, learning to drive, changing a tire, fixing a car, or knitting a scarf.

 Awesome ideas bubble up in your brain.

Now, you have the answers.

Write with great vigor.

You know what to write. Write the next part. It will be filled with great and creative words.

When it gets to the end of your time for this writing session, ask yourself more questions.

Before you stop writing, ask yourself questions about the next part of your  story.

Make this a habit. It will keep your subconscious mind thinking for all kinds of possibilities for you. When you sit down to write again, you will be able to choose the idea that works best in this particular story situation. Good luck with your writing.

Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate you very much.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards


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14 Responses

  1. Writing out questions – Excellent idea.

    Thank you,


    • Dear Sharon,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad you believe that writing out questions is an excellent idea. Good luck with your writing..


  2. Great blog and very timely, JOan! GOing to bookmark this to come back to. Thanks!! Yesterday I stopped to rake leaves. Now as I get back to writing–I hope it helped!!


    • Dear Carol,
      Thanks for writing. I appreciate your compliment. I hope raking leaves helped so that when you sit down to write, you’ll have the answers. Many times we think we’ve got to stick to the grindstone, when we might need fun, exercise, or both to open our minds to other possibilities.


  3. Joan, my good buddy Carol Baldwin and I do this regularly….walk and ask questions of each other about our current WIP’s. Great advice! (and great therapy, too!) Thanks for this great post.


    • Dear LInda,Phillips,
      Thank you for writing. I didn’t realize that you and Carol Baldwin lived close enough to walk together regularly. Awesome! And then to be able to ask questions of each other about your works in progress. What a gift you are for each other! You’re right. Walking is great therapy. It sets up a good feeling inside.


  4. Joan,
    Great advice for when we’re stumped! I agree that when we ask ourselves a question, it is good not to rule out what comes to mind. That could stop the creative flow. We’re prone to “shut down” if we feel the pressure of a critical eye or ear.


    • Dear Linda Andersen,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you believe that asking questions is great advice for when we’re stumped. You’re right. Many people stop the creative flow when the judgment puts a halt to it.


  5. Thank you for this Joan,
    I often create a dialogue between my characters, even if I’m doing non-fiction. I have a couple of characters that I bring in to brainstorm problems I face. 🙂


    • Dear Shirley,
      Thank you for writing. You are welcome. It is great that you create characters to help you find answers to your non-fiction book problems. What an intriguing idea. Thank you for sharing it with us.


  6. I love all of your suggestions, Joan. Sometimes I’m just tired and need a nap! It also helps to distance myself from the computer physically, but still think about my characters. And if I’m really bored with my own words and world I created, I look to others and read great books, like Newbery Award Winners, to be inspired.


    • Dear Juliana,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad you love all of my suggestions. It’s good that you take a nap when you need one! Naps rest your body and your mind. Great idea. Reading Newbery Award winning books for inspiration is a wonderful idea. What’s your favorite Newbery winner?

      Celebrate you and your writing!


  7. Love the way you set up your points in bold–for the rushed author! Great idea, Joan.

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Loving helping writers get read with my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including the multi award-winning second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) .


    • Dear Carolyn,
      Thank you for writing. I’m glad you liked the bold. I don’t do it all the time. I thought it might be appropriate this time. I’m glad you liked it.

      Never Give Up


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