I’ve talked about when plotting is going well for me. And most of the time, it does. I’m not going to lie and say plotting things out is incredibly easy . . . but it’s not extremely difficult, either.

Unless . . .

I’m struggling to see what’s happening next in an outline. Sometimes it’s because I’m in a general writing downswing, as I am now. Been in it for a while, and when I get like this, nothing moves. Not outlines, not writing, nothing. If I’m lucky, the downswing is a creative one, where I’m actually able to work on other aspects of the writing, like worldbuilding, adding things to the timeline, or, since I’m doing the Two-Year Novel Course, the current week’s exercise for the class. This writing downswing hasn’t been a creative one, though. It gave me a spring-cleaning bug instead. LOL

But sometimes I hit a block while still being in writing-mode—no downswing in sight. I have a few methods for dealing with this.

Thinking all I need to do is recharge my inspiration/writing mind, I will go read a book. I should probably do this more often, as it does indeed help me come up with ideas for my own writing. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’ll see how another author handled a particular issue I may be struggling with, whether that issue is the reason for the current block or not. Either way, I get some time away from the computer and, if I go to the coffee shop on the corner across the street, a change of scenery.

On occasion, I’ll take my laptop to the coffee shop as well, and, if there’s a table next to a power socket available, plug in my computer and write a bit. This does the same thing as taking a book or my nook to the shop to read, only it’s not as far a break away from my writing. Being in a new place makes my mind more alert, and ideas come easier, so I’m able to plot and write a little easier.

Another method I like to use to jog ideas loose is going on a walk. This is somewhat challenging in the winter (a couple different bladder issues), but during the spring, summer, and fall, I’ll take myself to the park catty-corner to the block where I live and take a walk with a song on repeat on my mp3 player. Walking or being in a moving vehicle has always helped prod my creative mind, and it’s no different these days, though it’s generally best if I’m not concerned with any particular real-life event or errand when I’m walking or being a passenger. I’m not sure why being in movement works for me, but it always has.

The last most common method of dealing with plotting issues is stepping away and working on a craft. Mostly crocheting. I’ll pop a movie I’ve seen lots of times in my DVD player and listen and half-watch it while I twist yarn into afghans and granny squares and scarves. This is soothing as well, and watching my hands work the hook and yarn calms my creative mind enough for me to focus on things better when I come back to my writing. This, however, is something I have to be in the mood for.

Rarely, I’ll make sure my PS2 is hooked up, pop a game in, and play for a while. This is my Need A Total Break method of dealing with plotting issues. One of my last resorts, I don’t often use this method, as I’m far more likely to get something out of one of my other methods before this will work for me. In fact, I get more out of watching somebody else play video games. I zone better watching them than I do when I’m playing them—it’s kind of like my idea-contemplation meditation. I don’t have to work, but it’s interesting to me—more interesting than most TV shows—and it keeps me distracted enough that I’m not dwelling on the problems I’m having with my writing, which enables me to think past the block. When I’m playing myself, I prefer “simple” games. Things which don’t require a lot of mental output, so I’ll play something like a straightforward quest-type without puzzles. MediEvil and Darkstone are good for this; I can pop it in, pick up where I left off, and bash some enemies for a bit. It clears the mind.