How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Stuck on an Island

I hope you had a great Labor Day! For me, I was able to make progress on a story, which adds a special shine to any day in my estimation. 

The Real Green Gables

Since I last posted, I’ve resettled into a writing routine (as of right now!). What am I working on? A third Marielle novel, this one set on Prince Edward Island. (By the by, exactly one year ago today I arrived on P.E.I. to begin my own adventure there.) I don’t want to share many details too soon because details tend to be fickle and whimsical, but for now, the novel is going well. I know I should be optimistic, but, honestly, I’m holding my breath about how its progress will continue, because for the several months that I’ve had this idea and begun working on it, it evaded my interest and enthusiasm.

Surely you’ve also felt completely unmotivated about working on a project that you know you should be excited about. Days and weeks go by, and you’re feeling more and more unhappy about being “forced” to do it until you just want to slide it off your plate into the trashcan. That was me with this novel. Friends had made some suggestions that added to the plot, and I thought I was set. I began to peck at it but couldn’t manage much, especially on the days I did my editing jobs. I realized this couldn’t go on – either I’d have to get serious about it or drop it altogether. I went with the former because I knew there needed to be a third Marielle installment. And now, several weeks later, it’s captured my heart and I love writing it.

How did I get to that point? If you’re trying to overcome reluctance to work on one of your own projects, writing or otherwise, maybe something here might help:

- After hours of editing, I couldn’t stand to be on the computer anymore once I was done for the night. So I pulled out a good old-fashioned notebook and handwrote a few pages. It was slow, but at least it was progress, and a change of place and position loosened up my creativity.
- Tweaking what I’d already written to match the new plot ideas gave me a context for picking up where I left off after a long absence.
- Photos fed my visual-hungry brain and reminded me why I love Prince Edward Island.
- Research answered some questions and helped me craft atmosphere and details.
- Reminiscing about my own P.E.I. trip gave me inspiration for characters and settings.
- Poetry made me fall in love with words and imagery all over again, and writing tips made me want to try them out on my own creative work.
- Reading some of L. M. Montgomery’s beautiful writing (the P.E.I. author of Anne of Green Gables) inspired me more than anything else – after all, she is the person who ignited my work-in-progress in the first place.

So the next time I feel stuck, I hope can remember to take the time to search for inspiration to fill up my dry well. If we have nothing to draw from, how can we keep producing?

What do you do when you feel stuck?


  1. I'm really excited about this book!

    When I feel stuck, I typically take a walk outside or work on another project for a few minutes. Most of the time, that does the trick.

    1. Thank you! That's great to hear!

      How good that you have a method to get unstuck that works for you. I'll file those ideas away for when I'm trying to write but just can't figure out what happens next. :)

  2. Yeah, when I get stuck I generally take a break altogether, or work on something else. That's awesome that just pushing onward worked for you! Great tips. I might need to try writing by hand again occasionally... ;) Excited for this book someday! :D Best wishes on getting some progress in on it! ^_^ And if you do need to work on something else for awhile, that's also okay -- wherever the inspiration is! :)

    1. Breaks or redirecting your attention can work well, that's for sure! I had such fun writing the Musicians story while I was supposed to be editing Suit and Suitability. On this new story, it seemed like I wouldn't get inspired unless I worked to inspire myself. :P Thank you for your excitement and your well wishes!

      Inspiration is essential. You're right, there will probably come a time when I need a break to work on something else. :)

  3. Posting for rm:

    Thanks for sharing, Kelsey!

    When I'm stuck, I usually take a break to reflect on -why- I'm investing in a creative outlet in the 1st place. If the reason/motivation is still good & relevant, it helps me get back to it. If not, I let it go -perhaps forever- until it becomes relevant again.

    But! I believe that creative outlets (when not career related) are only refreshing when unforced. :p

    1. That's a great point, rm! Reasons and motivations are hugely important for a creative work. If we lose sight of why we're doing something, we can become disillusioned with it. And you're right, sometimes it will never be as relevant as we thought at first, so it's best to let it go.
      Thanks for your comment!