Five Quick Fixes When Things Aren’t Working


These five ideas are centered on writing,

but I can’t promise they won’t work in other areas of life as well.

Read at your own risk.  




Take a break.

I’m more productive when I’m not staring at the computer screen for hours. Fit smaller tasks around your writing schedule. Return phone calls. Do a load of laundry. Make your grocery list. Just remember—it’s a break. You still have to go back to the keyboard. A timer helps me with this.


Try something different.

A new approach. Different scenery. Different point of view. Switch characters or projects. Work on something smaller. Jump forward or backward in your book. Change your playlist. Check out someone else’s creativity and watch a movie or read a book.


Talk it out.

Start a conversation. Bouncing ideas, or even a running commentary, off someone else helps me see things I didn’t see before. Many a plot fixes have evolved from this method. Use bribery if you have to—not everyone’s as in love with your book as you are.


Tell yourself it doesn’t matter.

Unless you’re on a deadline and your MS is due tomorrow, if you take an hour or a day to process your issue, it’s okay. You don’t have to solve your problem today. Sometimes letting the problem percolate produces the best parts of the story.


Time it out.

Make a short-term goal, like fixing one scene or even one paragraph, set a timer and concentrate on only that one thing for only that amount of time. Then move on. This approach takes the “over” out of overwhelming.


What do you do for a quick fix? Leave a comment on the blog!



  1. When it’s not working, I leave it and walk outside. Sometimes it takes only 5 minutes to get back on track, sometimes longer but a breath of fresh air usually unlocks my issue.

  2. I give myself permission to take a break, maybe work on another project. When I come back to the part that was stumping me, I see it with fresh eyes, and can usually figure out what wasn’t working! Thanks Lori for the great tips!

  3. The BEST thing I did to improve my attitude about and productivity in my WIP was to get honest with myself and my timer.

    I also discovered iced coffee is delicious. I force myself to write while I sip a grande after a nap-inducing lunch. Naps had become my mid-afternoon go-to cure for writer’s block. I got honest with myself about those naps.

    Do I still take them? When I am sleep-deprived and need a 30 minute ‘recharge’, you bet I do.

    Life note: Time-it and if-you-still-want-it discipline also gets me through unwarranted munchies mania. If I know I’m not hungry, but want munch (and, I’m not talking celery, here), I set my timer. If I still want that snack thirty minutes later, I have permission to indulge. Most of the time, I realize it was a just-because-I’m-bored impulse.

    Finally, during timed write-a-thons, I no longer set the timer and go about business-as-normal until I finish a task and get to the WIP. Unless it’s a whistling teapot, the task must be set aside. Those 60 minutes are WIP time.

    Great post, Lori!

  4. Your disclaimer is too funny. WHAT?!! I think I do all those things in other areas of life as well. Good advice here.

  5. When my brain gets fuzzy and the words and thoughts won’t flow, I stop, get a glass of iced tea, and open my Bible. Most often I go to the Psalms and read a few. Then I talk with the Lord about whatever comes to mind before I sit in silence before Him. Learning to listen to His still, quiet voice has been difficult for me to learn. You know those of us who are Type A always have one foot up and ready to go. But the answer for me comes in sitting still and being silent before the Lord.

  6. Lori Freeland |

    Great advice. Hard to do but so worth it :)

  7. Claire L. Fishback |

    Great post! I find sometimes taking a bath helps. I’ve had many “water epiphanies” about my WIP. Walking my dog helps, too. I tell her all about what’s going on and talk it out. It’s nice to be able to do that without someone pushing their ideas on you. :) Though I do also use my husband and my sister as brainstormers.

    Thanks for the tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *