Monday, July 6, 2015

Feeling Stuck? ~By Suzy Leopold

Are you looking for some creativity and motivation? Are you feeling stuck in the mud because your revisions to your story are not coming together? 
It's okay. It happens. Now turn around and move in another direction. There is no need to go down this road. Negative thoughts are not allowed. Did you turn around? I repeat, do not follow this path! 

Don't feel discouraged. There are no worries. There are no hurries. Think about Pete the Cat by Eric Litwin aka Mr. Eric . . .
"Does Pete worry? 
Goodness, no!" 

Time to rewind. Time to renew. Time to refresh.

1.   Read your manuscript aloud and ask someone else to read your story aloud. After all, a picture book is meant to be read aloud.

2.   Watch television. Better yet, watch TV with the kids or grandkids. Check out the many excellent programs on PBS for Kids. Follow the adventures of Chris and Martin on the Wild Kratts as they travel around the world sharing science discoveries and learning. 

3.   Set your manuscript aside. Put your manuscript away for awhile. Come back to it later. It will still be there. Stories that simmer overtime become well done.

4.   Go outside and enjoy the beauty all around you. Smell the flowers. Pick some weeds. Greet your neighbors. Listen to the birds. Take in all the sights and sounds using your five senses.

5.   Read and study a stack of currently published picture books. Good writers know they make excellent mentor texts.

6.   Listen to children's conversations at the library, park or grocery store to help you write dialogue that is authentic and believable.

7.   Work on a creative project. Sing a children's song, play an instrument, create a woodworking project, knit a scarf or sew a gift for a kid.

8.   Consider watching documentaries with the kids this summer for a change of pace. Expand and inspire young minds about controversial topics to encourage thoughts and opinions. As a writer, you will discover new ideas and topics to write about.

9.   Read picture books with your children and/or grandchildren.

10. Keep a journal or notebook handy for sparkly ideas and thoughts that pop into your head.

11. Read a picture book from a different genre than your current WIP. Find inspiration from the latest 2015 Summer SCBWI Bulletin.

12. Try writing long hand on a piece of paper instead of typing on a keyboard. Write with markers, pencils and colorful pens.

13. Take a nap. zZzZ! A twenty minute nap will give you renewed energy and increase your cognitive skills.

14. Enjoy a snack. For many writers, chocolate always works! A dark chocolate chip cookie, please, [homemade of course] and a tall glass of cold milk should do the trick. It works for me!
"If you give a mouse a cookie,
he's going to ask for a glass of milk.

15. It's five o'clock somewhere. Cheers! ¡Salud! Skål!

16. Go for a walk/jog. Take your precious dog with you. Go for a bike ride. Ride with the kids. Go for a swim. Grab your fishing pole. Go fishing. Time to catch some supper.

17. Move away from your writing desk. Consider writing outside at the picnic table under the shade of an oak tree. Grab a clipboard with paper, pencils and pens and a tall glass of lemonade. Don't forget the sunscreen and bug repellent.

18. Listen to some music while writing.
Acrylic paints

Colored pencils
19. Create a book dummy. Consider creating an illustration of your main character. You can do. You don't have to be an illustrator. Use colored pencils to doodle or draw. Paint your character using watercolors or acrylic paints. Draw stick figures. Cut pictures out of a magazine to depict your character.

20. Beat the clock! Set a timer for sixty minutes. Begin writing. Stop when the timer goes bBzZz. How many words did your write? 
Set the timer for 60 minutes.
21. Enjoy a healthy snack of nuts & fruits and/or veggies.
A Glass of
Iced Tea

22. Read a book about the craft of writing for children.

23. Take a brain break . . . Take a deep breath. Stand up and stretch. Lean left. Lean right. Do a little dance. Try ten jumping jacks followed by five knee bends. Now touch your toes. Exhale. Continue writing.

24. How about another cup of coffee or a tall glass of iced tea?

25. Create a mission statement. This is my writer's statement:
"To become a better writer who reads, writes and creates everyday. 
To inform readers with knowledge, inspiration and encouragement." 
~Susan Kaye Leopold 
 Remember the encouraging words of the special blue engine in the classic story, The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper . . . 
"I think I can. I think I can."
And, finally, everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has an important story to tell. You and I have stories to write and share with kids. Revisions are necessary for rereadbility. You and I have important stories to tell. Write and rewrite your story and when it is the best it can be, kids will say, 
"Let's read it again!"
"The important thing about you 
is that you are you."
Okay, are you feeling a little bit better? Are you feeling refreshed and renewed? Are you ottimista or pessimista? It's not always easy. You can do it. Yes, you can. Perseverance. Dedication. Stamina. Celebrate and reward yourself with your writing accomplishments.

Hopefully, you have found some encouragement to continue your writing journey with these twenty-five tips. Share your thoughts and ideas. What works for you when you are feeling stuck with your writing? How do you turn around and make a detour to avoid the dead end road?


  1. Yes, I feel better. Very great list of how to become unstuck! Inspiration and fun are all around us and THAT is the food for our writing, Suzy! Thank you.

    1. To tell great stories, a writer must use all five senses to see the world around us. Good to know you feel better, Kathy!

  2. Great suggestions! Fun too. =)

    1. Thank you, Laura. I hope some of the ideas are helpful to you.

  3. Wow, what a list! Thanks, Suzy! I especially like the dark chocolate chip cookies!

    1. Thank you, Tina! Good to know that you found the dark chocolate chip cookies. They are so yummy.

  4. This is a great post filled with tips for us "procrastinators" and those of us who are just plain stuck. Why is it that cookies just seem to make everything better? Thanks Suzy!

    1. Thank you, Darlene. May these tips stir up some creative ideas for stories.
      Chocolate + Cookies = The Best Manuscripts.

  5. Sometimes getting "stuck" is more about idea overload... and your get-away list is perfect. My favorite thing to do when I can't write is to go out in my garden. After pulling weeds, watching bees, and planting seeds I always come back with mud on my knees, dirt under my nails, and a better idea of where I want to go.
    And if that doesn't work, watching a movie or reading a good book helps.

    1. So true, Sue. I agree with you about *idea and information overload.* Spending time in the garden always works for me, too. What are you harvesting in your garden today? My husband, Perry, and I harvested a big bucket of zucchini and fresh potatoes today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about watching a movie and reading a book. ~Sue Leopold

  6. This is a retreat day in itself, Suzy! Thanks for sharing your helpful pointers with us.

    1. Oh my! Thank you, Jarm, for your kind comment. I'm looking forward to meeting you and greeting you at the WOW Conference.

  7. Wonderful post, Susie. Excellent advice.

    1. Your compliment warms my heart, Debbie. Thank you for stopping by the GROG Blog. I will miss you and my writerly friends this evening at our SCRIBES group.

  8. Thank you for this great compilation of ideas !
    I enjoy listening to videos where someone reads a picture book.
    Reading your story to a person... makes me see what is wrong or repetitions... :)

    1. You are welcome, Nicole. My pleasure. Thank YOU for sharing your tip about listening to picture book videos. There are so many to choose from on YouTube. I agree with you, since picture books are meant to be read aloud, reading a manuscript aloud just makes sense.

  9. Beautiful and inspiring post, Suzy. You are a breath of sunshine and it's good to read your positive tips. What helps to get me back on track? One of my favs is holding and spending time with my fur kids. They calm and set the brain to thinking about all the good things. Have a wonderful new week :)

    1. Cute Charlotte! I am thankful for your comment and compliment.

      Your suggestion to refresh by spending time with fur babies is a special time. What a helpful tip.

      I look forward to catching up with you soon at the WOW Conference.
      ~Suzy Sunshine

  10. Replies
    1. Thank you, Patty.

      I'm excited to meet all of my GROG friends at the upcoming WOW Retreat/Conference.

  11. A plethora of positive points and pithy possibilities.

    1. And it is my pleasure to share the points & possibilities with you, Sherri. Thank you.

      I look forward to meeting and greeting you at the WOW Conference.

  12. Awww. any column with a title from Margaret Wise Brown has me feeling chipper.
    Appreciations for this excellent get-up--and-go prompts, Suzy!
    Love Sherri's alliterative response, too!