#SOL17: Stuck or in a Rut?

Two eyes, glowing in the reflection of my headlights, joined by another pair, and then another pair as I see the dreaded white flicker . . .

White-tailed deer

Not to be confused with those other deer, reindeer, also visible during this season, and recognizable by my two and a half year old grandson.

My foot has already hit the brake, my thumb on the horn, sounding out a staccato beat that matches the prayer on my lips,

Please don’t run across the road. Please don’t try to jump across my car. Please, NO!”




Great draft.

Great first words.

But what next?

I’m stuck.

Do I start something new?

Do I begin at a different point?

Is it time for a flashback?

What can I google?

Do any of those responses sound familiar? 

(And yes, you can Google what to do when you get stuck and you will get these types of links:  here, here and here for over 125 ways to get unstuck.)

What is the simple truth about getting unstuck?

You must keep writing.

Take a short break.

Observe something.

Walk around.

But return to your writing.  Recopy your last word, line, paragraph or — to get your writing flow moving.  Your writing does not need to be stellar.  Your writing needs to be WRITING!




I’m purposefully writing this “stream of consciousness” because of the #TeachWriting chat where we talked about writing. (Storify here)

Ruth Ayres, author of this amazing book,

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.23.49 PM

said this:

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.26.08 PM

So now I am off on a tangent,

not stuck,

but I have abandoned my story line for this:

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.31.32 PM.png

and I am so off track (excuse the pun)

but I feel productive because I continue to add words, lines and pictures to my blog post.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, 

What are those 3 sets of deer eyes doing? 

Have they moved? 

Where did my story go?




Has that ever happened to you?

Have you ever been lost, but found a totally different path?  and then realized that path was so different it was unconnected, so now you had to go back to the original story?

With work, revision, and some sharp scissors, this might become a circle story . . .

MIGHT,

But not today!




CCSS. CCRA.W.5. “Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.”

I wish I had a plan. This was truly the randomness of my thinking.  A variety of ideas floating through my head.

But I did not stop writing.

I looked for ideas

. . . and then I wrote

. . . and wrote

. . . and wrote.

It’s 321 words later and I’m still struggling to figure out where my story is going?

How stuck?

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.45.45 PMScreenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.46.39 PMScreenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.48.46 PMScreenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.52.42 PM

Ankle deep?  Knee deep?  Waist deep?  Up to my chin?

How stuck?

Or in a rut?

Screenshot 2017-12-04 at 9.58.05 PM.png

And just like that the glowing eyes decided not to fight tonight.  Not to risk life and limbs crossing the road.  They merely paused . . . and stared . . .

And I blinked, slowed, and cautiously continued on my way.




Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.                                                                                                      slice of life 2016




Current status of my draft:

Two eyes, glowing in the reflection of my headlights, joined by another pair, and then another pair as I see the dreaded white flicker . . .

White-tailed deer

Not to be confused with those other deer, reindeer, also visible during this season, and recognizable by my two and a half year old grandson.

My foot has already hit the brake, my thumb on the horn, sounding out a staccato beat that matches the prayer on my lips,

Please don’t run across the road. Please don’t try to jump across my car. Please, NO!”

And just like that the glowing eyes decided not to fight tonight.  Not to risk life and limbs crossing the road.  They merely paused . . . and stared . . .

And I blinked, slowed, and cautiously continued on my way.




At this stage, what are you thinking?

. . . And why? 

How do you get unstuck?

Do you have tested-tried-and-true ways that work to get you unstuck? 

Or are you in a rut?

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9 responses

  1. That was very interesting. And yes, getting stuck does happen. Sometimes I just leave it and return some other time to find that I can continue. That is Life 😊

    1. I think we have to be realistic about “getting stuck” which may also mean that we shouldn’t wait to the last minute for some tasks that may take more time! And yes, the struggle is REAL life! 🙂

  2. Just write, trust the words will come and they did. So glad the deer stayed on their side of the road and you followed many interesting paths as you created this slice.

    1. The journey that comes from just writing. The first five minutes were so easy, but the following 75 were a bit nerve-wracking . . . Trusting the words will come works but the pacing is NOT on a typical timeline.

      I don’t want this to be used as a reason to write to prompts every week, but what strategies do we rehearse in front of our students to provide models of “getting unstuck” or even just realizing that we ARE stuck? THANKS! So good to see you at #NCTE17!

  3. Having been stuck many times I often find myself wondering where I am going with my writing or where should I go? I agree that the key is to keep writing even if it takes you off on a tangent because who knows where that road may lead if it isn’t followed.

    1. So true. I like the idea of embracing the wonder! A “meander” or two can be quite interesting (also very time absorbing)! I’m finding that staying focused when I appear to have a great big chunk of time is sometimes an issue. I look up at the clock and wonder where my time went! LOL

  4. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into all that you are thinking as you write and stop and keep on writing. You inspire me to slow down and notice all that I am thinking and doing. So how understanding the process keeps the process going.

    1. Sally,
      Aren’t you glad that you cannot see the complete inside of my brain? I’m sure it’s a very messy place as I’m always turning corners! Writing is complicated just as getting unstuck is complicated. It helps to be a writer who has needed to get unstuck (and who also was not on a rigid time line because procrastination can lead to FEAR which can be paralyzing! 🙂

  5. Sometimes I have that lost feeling as I write. Kind of how did I get here? Finding the way out can be the most interesting part, but you have to be ok with getting lost. That is scary. No wonder we stop or some of us never get to start.

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