Writing Advice: Come Back Later

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There are some scenes that are creators of writer’s block. Sometimes you’re swimming right along, writing at a steady pace, when suddenly you’re faced with a scene that seems completely impossible to write. A death scene, a love scene, or just a simple bit of exposition can act like a brick wall for your writing momentum. What do you do when you come up against one of these scenes? Well, John Steinbeck has a bit of advice on this matter and it comes from the Brainpickings website.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.

On principle, I love this piece of advice. It seems to me like the perfect solution. If something is causing you trouble, simply bypass it and come back to it later. Write the scenes that you know you can write and are inspired to write rather than getting hung up on the scene that is chronologically next in your story. In addition to un-blocking you and getting you to keep on writing, this may provide some insight into the scene that was so difficult to write. Perhaps moving on will help you understand how that difficult scene should play out.

In practice, however, I have never been able to bring myself to act on this advice. There’s just something about going out of order that bothers me. I’ve always liked the sound of it, but rather than bypassing scenes I tend to push right through them. I think another good piece of advice related to this one could be to just write something shitty and keep on going. Get that scene written and, though it may not be as good as you want it to be, at least it’ll be written and out of the way.

What do you think about this piece of advice? Do you bypass scenes that are too difficult to write at the time? Share in the comments!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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