A few weeks ago, Christy shared that she's been studying up on - and now doing - the 90-day-novel. I decided to try a different approach and


try plotting for my terribly stuck MG shost story, CH (I originally titled it Coyote Hotel but it won't stay that, so I just call it CH now) so that I can *pause to cry a little* start it totally over.

First, I bought and skimmed through this book:

The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story

Now I'm going through it a second time and doing all of the exercises. If you're not familiar with the book, there's a lot of exercises. A LOT. And you don't start writing an actual draft until you've finished something like 100 of them. I'm on day 4 (well, by the time you read this, day 6, but I'll be out of town for a couple days and probably won't write much - Mall of America, here we come) and I'm on #35, which gives me 12 handwritten pages of notes and a 1,000 word short synopsis that actually may have gotten me unstuck!!

Now, CH wasn't just stuck a little. It was stuck a whole heck of a lot. There were too many characters, too many plot lines, too many. . .of everything. And I let it go on too long, believing the mantra of "just keep writing" would work. It so didn't.

21,669 words thrown away. Then 12,710 of a new version, gone bye-bye. This is the part where I grieved over my lost book-that-never-was-even-though-it-was-a-great-idea-and-had-a-great-main-character and started with a couple of new ideas.

Thank, Amy Deardon, for giving me my book back. I will not fail this time, I just will not! I recommend this book/process for anyone who is dead stuck. I'm not sure I could do it with a new idea, but I'll let you know when I get done with this one. I'm not writing right now, but I am *gasp* plotting. And that's exactly what CH needed.

How about you guys? Can you just power through and make it work? Or have any other great resources? Leave them in the comments! 


  1. I recently attending a workshop with Michael Hauge. It changed how I will now plan a book. It was an amazing talk. Unfortunately, only some of it is available in his most recent book.

  2. so excited for you and kaleb! i thought i'd be a great plotter, and i guess i could be, but i'm not so great at days and days of brainstorming. i'm sure it'll be super, as soon as i let myself go. i hope in 90 days i have an awesome draft to show for it! christy

  3. I love how if I leave a comment on your blog, it's automatically labeled "brilliant." Yep, I definitely gotta stop by more often so I can pick up that fabulous label.

    I'm kind of a pantser who starts with a loose outline and then lets the more specific stuff come slowly as I write. And I do write slow. I think that's just how my brain works. If I rush things, then my stories suck. So yeah, in my case, slow is good.

  4. Yay for progress! I tend to just push through the first draft, and then do organizing, cutting and such later. But it is undoubtedly good to do it at the beginning, too!

  5. What's with all the different fonts and sizes? I should probably learn to plot out my blog posts. :)

  6. I learnt my lesson when I got a serious case of burnout when I began the discontinued first draft of my Russian novel sequel almost immediately on the heels of finally finishing the first book back in August 2001. When you're coming off of a gigantic writing high, sometimes you need a break so you don't get sick of the characters and their stories. You can always work on other books when you're taking a break. I like to be at the point where I'm not writing the book, but the book is writing me. If you're forcing yourself to work when you're not feeling it 100%, the story can suffer.

  7. I love how if I leave a comment on your blog, it's automatically labeled "brilliant." Yep, I definitely gotta stop by more often so I can pick up that fabulous label.

  8. Yay, Erica, for getting unstuck! That is huge. Great books on writing are excellent for the purpose. Another one I love and frequently recommend is James Scott Bell's THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS. And if you feel a lull coming on, try yoga for writers--I blogged about it today and I'm not making it up. It's a ten-minute workout designed by a yogi/writer just for writers to boost their creativity and get them to the page.


Stay and chat with us! Share your thoughts.