11 writing problems and solutions
Writing is a craft. It takes time for anyone to learn and improve. But there are some shortcuts you can try, maybe adapt to your own needs. Here are 11 writing problems and their solutions, or hacks.
Too many ideas syndrome
Problem: You have too many equally good story ideas and can’t pick just one to write.
Solution: Select your top 3 favorite stories and
write the first scene of all three. If you can’t decide, write
chapter. The right project will be easier to work with, you’ll have
fun writing it, you will be daydreaming about the story, you will
love the characters. So, give away three chances instead of one.
Outline spoiling the fun
Problem: Whenever you outline a story idea, it completely spoils your will to write it. The mystery is gone.
Solution: Instead of outlining the whole story, just make a clear goal on how your characters should end. Will they succeed? Will they fail? Will they be happy? Will they find redemption? Will they be wronged? Decide how your story should end and explore the plot as you go. Remember, no one will read your first draft, so just write.
Problem: If you are a pantser, you might get lost in the middle of the story, especially after the first plot point.
Solution: Give your story an ending. If you know where your characters will end up, you’ll have a better understanding of which routes to take. Always keep in mind how the story will end. Use it as the beacon of a lighthouse to guide you through stormy waters.
Problem: You don’t have story ideas. Or nothing you have so far excites you enough for a novel.
Solution: Read a book or watch a movie completely out
of your genre. This works like magic, I promise. I’m not a sci-fi
person, but Akira has given me more story ideas than any movie and
book from my own genre.
Problem: You are scared of writing, scared of starting a new story, or just scared of not doing a good job.
Solution: Write a fanfic. No one expects a fanfic to be a masterpiece (although many are). Fanfics are done for fun and for passion. So, write your book in fanfic format. You can even use fandom characters and aus in the process. When the story is completed, change back to original characters.
Editing as you write
Problem: You keep going back to previous paragraphs and editing instead of moving forward with your writing.
Solution: Write your novel by hand. This might sound like a lot of work, but it’s quite the opposite. The white screen of the computer urges you to review, to make it perfect, academic like perfect. The paper however, brings you back to the craft, to the urge of filling lines and pages. Handwriting also gives you the opportunity of sketching and doodling.
Problem: Tumblr. Youtube. Email. Netflix. Bathroom. Fridge. Bed.
Solution: Go offline. Turn off your wi-fi. Use a
device without internet connection. Or, if you keep fooling yourself
and turning the internet back on, write your novel by hand. Give
yourself a daily hour of internet, but live offline. And if you take unnecessary trips to the fridge or the bathroom, try the pomodoro technique.
Lack of plots
Problem: Nothing relevant is happening, your story looks kind of boring. Or the main plot is too weak for a whole novel.
Solution: Take a few days off. Just relax. When you are ready to go back, read what you have written so
far. Maybe you were just tired. But, if
the story really sucks, go back to basics. Ask yourself two questions.
What type of story am I writing? How will this story end? Follow the
answer like a map. Change what needs to be changed, even if you have
to delete the whole progress. If you lack plots, don’t add fillers, just go back to basics.
Weak main character
Problem: Your character lacks personality, voice and/or visuals.
Solution: Give your main character three things. An
external battle. An internal battle. And an unique feature. The external
battle is their goal, what they want to achieve, what they dream
about. An internal battle is their fears, traumas, doubts, mental
issues, prejudices and triggers to overcome. An unique feature is what sets them
apart from other characters, maybe they have piercings, or tattoos,
or pink hair, or lilac eyes, maybe they wear neon boots, or a mask,
or mittens, maybe they are left-handed, or blind, maybe they have a scar, or a
birthmark. Every amazing main character has external battles,
internal battles and unique features.
Problem: You have no will to write. The passion is gone. You feel empty.
Solution: If you don’t have access to medical help, reading is a good way to reevaluate your career and regain your passion for the words. Read lots of books. Don’t worry about writing, just read. Lose yourself in fictional adventures. Read sci-fi, romance, horror, fantasy, crime, family saga, classics, foreigner fictions, fanfics, shorts, poetry. Immerse in literature. Literature can save lives.
Problem: Dialogues seem too formal, or too much like the narration, or characters lack individuality.
Solution: Read your dialogues out loud while acting
as your characters. You can find a quiet empty room for that. Be an
actor. Go for the emotions. Record your acting sections, after all,
you might improvise at some point.