Getting Unstuck

I have a new writing post for you today.

If you’ll recall from my NaNoWriMo posts last November, I am currently working on a novel about Phillis Wheatley. And when I say “currently working on,” I mean “trying-but-it’s-hard-and-I-don’t-even-know-what-to-do-next” kind of working.

This is what has been happening inside my head for almost two months now:

Me: I don’t feel particularly inspired to write.

Me: You need to write anyway. You didn’t always feel inspired during NaNoWriMo and you still wrote.

Me: Yeah, I wrote, but most of what I wrote while feeling uninspired isn’t any good and I won’t end up using any of it, anyway.

Me: Ah, yes, but at least you have something you can edit now. After all, you can edit bad writing, but the only way to fix a blank page is to write.

Me: Yeah, but I don’t even know what to do next. Like it needs so much work that I don’t even know where to start.

Me: So doing nothing is a great plan there, mate. And yes, self, that is sarcasm.

Me: That’s not very helpful.

Me: Nope.


So with that internal dialogue, you should have a sense of the progress I have made (a.k.a. very little).

I don’t really believe in writer’s block (I used to, but not for several years), and I have finally realized what the actual problem is at this particular stage/moment:

I need a plan.

I sit down after getting home from work, or on the weekend, but I never know whether to devote that hour (or whatever amount of time) to research, editing, drafting a new scene, doing a full read through, or something else. And because a non-decision is easier than a decision, I end up choosing the “something else” and before I know it, that hour is gone and I have not done any writing.

So I have decided to devote my “writing” time for February (and the remainder of January) to research. Here are some goals for my research month:

  • Read The Complete Writings of Phillis Wheatley.
  • Review the biography of her that I have read to confirm some information, and add my notes to my manuscript file.
  • Review resources/sources available on the website of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  • Try to visit a specific research library near me to see if they have helpful resources relevant to this manuscript.

I am sharing this here for two reasons. First, for accountability. (Hi, Mom.) And second, in case this is helpful for other writers. If you are feeling like you’re hitting a brick wall, is it possible that the solution is this simple?

I will report back with whether this worked for me – whether it helped me get unstuck. In the meantime, I’m going to get to work.

I can’t wait to share what I learn.


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