Struggling to Finish a Story? Here’s Help

Writing isn’t always fun, and it certainly isn’t always easy. But if you persevere, you can finish your book. But what can you do if you’re struggling to finish the first draft?

Maybe the struggle looks something like this:

You’re writing. The story is flowing and the characters cooperating. Then you hit a wall.

What happens next?

Or the thing you want to happen is impossible because of something written earlier in the story.

You realize you have to either figure out another way forward or go back and rewrite that other section. But which of these will make the story stronger?

First things first, you are not alone. I know it feels like you’re struggling in isolation with nowhere to turn for the answers you need.

I promise, other writers have walked away from this place successfully. Some might be stuck in the same black hole at this exact moment. They will find the way to finish their story if they keep persevering. And so will you.

Structure Can Help

Some writers swear knowing about story structure stifles their creativity. It can if people become too legalistic about sticking to the structure.

Storytellers have used the three-act outline for thousands of years. It works. But it shouldn’t become a cage when it’s meant to be supporting framework.

When you understand three-act story structure, it can keep you from writing yourself into a corner. Even if you only outline the major story beats (which is what I do) before you begin writing, you have a roadmap.

Stuck? Ask yourself: What is the next thing I KNOW must happen in this story?

Then write that scene. It doesn’t matter if it happens two days, two weeks or two months from the last scene you wrote. Write as if you didn’t hit a wall, write your character in a corner or forget what you wanted to happen next.

I always write my opening scene and then my final scene before I dive into writing my book. You know why? Because it gives me an idea of where the finish line is.

Do I always keep that final scene? Nope. In fact, it gets rewritten one hundred percent of the time (and so does my opening scene). But finishing a first draft is about that: FINISHING.

If you get stuck trying to make every scene perfect, you won’t get to the finish line. Most writers who try to do this end up editing the heart of the story into a coma. They forget the story they wanted to tell.

Don’t let NOT knowing if you’ve written the first plot point in the correct place keep you from jumping into the second act.

I promise, every thing that is weak about your story can be fixed during revision.

But unless you hunker down and get the first draft written, you won’t have anything to fix.

Talking it Out Is Gold

One thing most writers agree is that solutions come when they talk through the problem. But who wants to listen? They can walk around the house muttering, trailed by the dog and glared at with feline condescension.

I still do this on a regular basis.

But I’m also a member of several writing communities where I can get input when I get stuck. I work with a writing coach who lets me blabber on about what I’m working on, asking questions that help me sort things out.

These are two ways you can talk about your story and the struggles you’re having with it. I encourage you to join Write Your Book Nook. You’ll find a supportive community who will encourage you, brainstorm with you, and answer questions you have about the writing and publishing process.

If you’re seriously stuck on your story, get professional help.

As a story coach, I love talking about story with you. Actually, I love listening to you tell me your story. I ask questions when I don’t understand which helps you clarify character arc and plot progression.

Brainstorming is one of my superpowers, and I’m happy to toss out ideas for you all day long. Most of the time, something I suggest becomes the jumping-off point to the perfect solution in your story.

If this sounds interesting, you can book a free discovery call with me.

Not sure what your biggest writing struggle is? Take this quiz and nail it down. Knowing the problem is the first step in solving it.

No need to struggle alone on your writing journey. Many writers want to help you finish what you started and get your story out in the world.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.