Hurling Words

I like to hammer out a first manuscript fairly fast, and then I edit it like mad.

There are magical times when words fly onto the page. You’re writing so much that you don’t change clothes for days and you forget your own name.


When the words don’t fly, however, try one of these tricks to throw yourself out of a scary non-writing spree.
  1.    Change mediums.  Change from laptop to paper, pen to pencil, lined paper to plain.  That might jog your mind into spewing those words out again.
  2.    Change locations.  Go from coffee shop to home, home to a friend’s house, a friend’s house to a rock by the water.  Keep it fresh.  You’re technically supposed to ignore the scenery and write, but your senses are still being stimulated by the world around them, so give them something fresh to mull on while the rest of your mind is engaging your story.
  3.    Stop whining. I mean, whine a bit.  It’s seriously healthy.  But give yourself a limit.  Writing is not for the strong of whine.
  4.     Skip a scene.  If a scene is really not cooperating, dump it.  Skip ahead.  Can’t figure out how to connect one piece of the action with the next?  Then skip that, too.  I usually leave stars (***) in my first drafts when I forgot a character name or can’t connect things right away.  When I edit, they’re easy to find.  Now’s not the time to worry about the finer details of your work.
  5.    Kill your protagonist.  It’s a weird trick, I know. But sometimes those protagonists are infuriating!  They just won’t cooperate.  Your head goes in little useless circles trying to figure it out.  I drop an elevator on my protagonists’ heads when they don’t cooperate. This is especially fun in fantasy where elevators don’t exist.  I drop that elevator and go for a walk. By the time I come back, snickering, my protagonist usually smartens up. We erase the elevator and we proceed with the story.
  6.    Go with your instincts. The best laid plans… You know about them. If your gut is telling you that what you thought would be the best twist ever isn’t, don’t write it.  You’ll stay stuck.  Your gut knows when something is leading you off track or to a dead end.  Your subconscious, cool beast that it is, is making connections your mind hasn’t even thought of.  Trust it and let your instincts take over where your mind might fail you.
  7.    The usual. Butt in chair. Give yourself word counts to follow.  I usually write down my word count on a sticky note every half hour and post them on my wall. I find it motivating. They’re coloured sticky notes, too, so it’s almost like decorating your room! (I may not be the best to provide advice on home d├ęcor.)
  8.    Isolate yourself. If you can, do this. Even a few days could save your entire manuscript, or complete it.  I go to a convent. Cheap, no TV or Internet, three meals provided, and peace and quiet.  Last time I did this, by keeping my butt in the chair and ignoring the beautiful sunny world beyond my closed curtains, I wrote 45,000 words in two days.  Those words needed lots of edits, but the draft was there.
  9.     Imagine you are… a warrior in battle, and getting those words down is imperative.  A soldier fighting a war.  A world-renown journalist with tight deadlines. Make your own story about you. Character play.  Do what you have to do to stay in that chair.
    I had a tenth idea, but I prefer sets of three in lists.  It’s clean and tidy.  BUT, if I were going to say a tenth one, it would be: Remember how cool you are.  How cool writing is.  Because it is.  Not everyone has your power with words and your ability to do this.

So go for it.  Do it. Keep doing it.  And, when you write ‘the end’ on your story, give yourself a hero’s welcome. You’ll have earned it.

 Guest post by Marie Bilodeau. Marie Bilodeau is an Ottawa-based science-fiction and fantasy author. Her space fantasy novel, Destiny’s Blood, was a finalist in the Aurora Awards and won the Bronze Medal for Science-Fiction in the Foreword Book Awards. She is also the author of the Heirs of a Broken Land, a fantasy trilogy described as “fresh and exciting” by Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo award-winning author of WAKE. Her short stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies, including the recent When the Hero Comes Home, edited by Ed Greenwood and Gabrielle Harbowy.   

Marie is also a professional storyteller who’s told adaptations of fairy tales and myths, as well as original stories, in venues across Canada. More at

Marie will give away a signed eBook copy of Destiny's Blood (the first book in the series) to one randomly drawn commenter at every stop, and an autographed set of Destiny's Blood and Destiny's Fall in print (US and Canada only) or eBook (International) to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. She'll also give an autographed set of books to the host with the most comments (excluding hers and the host's).

So I encourage you to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:


  1. Thanks for hosting me! I'd love to hear some tricks and ideas from other writers, too, on how they keep the words flowing. There's always more room in my bag of tricks!

  2. Great post, thank you! I *wish* I could bang out the first draft quickly - I only get that "heady feeling" when I hit the home stretch - about the last third - of the first draft. THEN the words FINALLY flow.

    Skipping scenes is great advice and usually works for me - and I love Erin Morgenstern's advice, "send your characters to the circus!" Sometimes just writing a random scene, that's absolutely silly and unworkable will shake something loose and helps to get me back on track.


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