What Happens Next? Getting Un-Stuck When You Are Lost In Your Story
By Jacob Krueger
I was recently giving a lecture on using hypnosis to combat writer’s block, and was asked a profound question by one of the students. She explained that her block had nothing to do with fear of writing, procrastination, the desire to get every scene “right” or any of the other common causes of writer’s block that students were describing. Her problem that she simply didn’t know what happened next in her story. She was just plain stuck. And she felt like until she figured it out, she couldn’t write another word.
How many writers have felt EXACTLY like that? More than you think. It’s easy to convince ourselves that if we don’t know what is going to happen, that there’s no way to move forward in our writing. But the truth is exactly the opposite. And if you want proof, all you have to do is think about your life.
How often do any of us have any idea what is actually going to happen? When you wake up in the morning, you don’t know what’s going to happen to you that day. Sure, you may have a general idea of what you THINK is going to happen, what USUALLY happens, or what you’d LIKE to happen. But the truth is, you have no idea what’s going to happen in your life.
There’s an old adage– if you want to make God laugh, make plans. The same wisdom that is true for life is also true for character. You don’t need to know what’s going to happen to get out of bed in the morning. You simply get up, because you have to. You live your life. You meet that new person. You fall in love. You get the big promotion or the new job. You deal with pain from unexpected places. Death, sickness, loss. Unexpected phone calls. Friends and family in trouble. Wonderful things and terrible things happen all the time, and we rarely see them coming. And yet we keep on living. So does your character.
So when you think you’ve run out of story, understand that you are fooling yourself. Life doesn’t work like that. And neither does story. Get your character out of bed. Just like you get out of bed every morning. Think about what he or she wants. What your character’s hopes, dreams and expectations are for the day. And then ask yourself, what’s the BEST or WORST thing that can happen. Write that scene, allow your character to deal with it, and you won’t have to find your structure. Your structure will find you.