Writing Assignment: Write Yourself Out Of A Corner

by Randy Murray on April 4, 2014

Painting is one of those activities where the initial excitement of starting the project, of putting paint and color up on the wall, quickly gives way to the drudgery of the task.

When you’re painting the floor it’s easy to get lost in the excitement of starting the project and quickly find that you’ve ended up in a corner with no way out. The basic solution is to just sit there and wait for the paint to dry.

You might not paint many floors, but if you’re a writer you probably know exactly how this feels. Stuck. No way out. A lot of work and you’re trapped.

It’s not just fiction writers who experience this. It happens in expository writing when you’ve lost track of the outline, the logic, the path that you’ve laid out.

You’ve planned this path, haven’t you? If you have, if you’ve created an outline before you’ve started, all that you need to do is work your way back. Be ruthless. Cut, delete, and dump it all to start over. Sometimes it’s for the best.

Or not.

Sometimes the excitement and enthusiasm that got you in the corner might be worth exploring. Yes, you’re in the corner and it appears that there’s no way out, but are you sure? There’s one way to find out.

Keep writing.

If you approach any writing project with excitement and energy and a willingness to chuck all of your work and start over you might cover some really interesting ground. You might discover something really useful that you hadn’t planned for.

Or you could just get stuck.

It’s OK. Get stuck. And then, get unstuck. Climb the walls. Swing from the rafters. Find a way out. And be willing to admit when it doesn’t work out that the attempt was worthwhile. I get stuck when I let the excitement of writing carry me away. I get out of those corners by examining my situation with cold logic. How did I get here? What do I need to do to get out?

For today’s assignment, write yourself out of a corner. You probably have an abandoned piece somewhere that you go stuck on. Look for one of these as your starting point. Your first step will to be to reread the piece. Do not make any alterations to it. Simply read it and come to the end where you found yourself stuck. Start here. If you’ve prepared yourself with a calm rereading of the material you aren’t burdened with enthusiasm or weighted down with defeat. Look at the piece coolly. Then, ask “Where was I going with this? And follow with, “Was it worth taking the path I laid out?” And “Is there value in what I’ve written or do I need to back up a few steps?”

Some writers tell themselves that they can only write with momentum. That momentum is probably what got you stuck. So approach this assignment with a cool, analytical mind. Then plot out your escape and calmly write your way out.


Writing Assignment: Write Yourself Out Of A Corner by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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