How Writing Out of Sequence Got Me Unstuck

Posted April 17, 2015 by Briana in writer's block / 9 Comments

woman in a field
Unstuck is a peculiar word. To be honest, I’m not sure that it’s a word at all. I probably made it up, but hey, that’s what I do.

I’m currently working on a dark little novel called Blood and Water. Up until about a week or so ago, I was chugging right along with no real difficulty. Then life got in the way (as it is wont to do). Super inconvenient. Anyway, I got stuck. I skidded to a halt. I couldn’t even get close to the keyboard without my mind and fingers completely seizing up.

Of course, this was a problem. I had a novel to finish.

One of the tricks I discovered for getting unstuck is to write out of sequence. I’ve always thought of myself as a linear writer, but since I don’t outline, I’m not committed to the structure. There was a scene I’d been dying to write, but I had yet to reach that part in the novel’s narrative. So, what did I do?

I wrote it anyway.

I fired up Scrivener, put my fingers on the keyboard, and started typing away. It only took me two hours to finish. Once I was done, I sat there in silence, basking in the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. I hadn’t written the scene that came next, but I had written something.

And isn’t that the point? As writers, we should focus on making progress. Even if you only get a few words down each day, that’s more words than you had the day before. Whether you manage to write ten words or ten thousand, you should celebrate. This tweet from Ksenia Anske is one I strongly agree with:


Bottom line: it doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write something. 

Of course, writing out of sequence might not work for everyone. Although it helped me get unstuck, I can understand some of the downsides. Writing out of sequence can cause you to lose momentum, for one thing. It can take you out of the moment of the story you’re in, and when you return, you might not get back into the groove of the scene. Another frustrating part of writing out of sequence requires connecting the dots. If you write a scene in the future, you have to go back (at some point) and fill in the gaps.

Writing out of sequence worked for me. I’m not sure whether I’ll try it with another MS, but for Blood and Water, it’s making a world of difference. The next tip you get stuck, try writing out of sequence. It might be what you need to get moving again.

What do you think about writing out of sequence? What are your tips for getting unstuck?

Tweet tweet:

What do think about writing out of sequence? Writer @brianawrites explains how it might help you get unstuck. (Click to tweet)

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9 responses to “How Writing Out of Sequence Got Me Unstuck

  1. Daniel Rose

    Great idea, I’ll have to give that shot. I’ve found that once I’d made peace with the fact that I don’t have to write perfectly (at least on the first draft), I just focus on having fun, letting the characters do whatever they want. Even if it’s completely unusable for the second draft, it gets me out of that ‘unstuck’ funk. And normally there’ll be something good hidden in there too 🙂

  2. Grae500

    I have a real hard time writing out of sequence at least in terms of real writing. I can do a brief sentence or two if some crazy idea comes to me about where I want the story to go, but otherwise, I can’t. Though I totally agree about writing something.

    I also recently had life get in the way, and I found myself not finding the time to write anything. But I ended up going a month. Between work and personal life stuff, I just had no creative juice left. Add in that I’m a bad nighttime writer, nothing got done.

    After realizing that I wasn’t getting anything done, I went back to my first book and got a new cover made. Then wrote a blog update (also massively behind) then, started twittering more.. finally opened CANITUS, and wrote.. a paragraph. From there on, I write some everyday. I’ve gotten back to where I write a decent amount 1100-2200 words every day again. Though i still have my challenges.. I can’t write at night to save my life, nor the morning. I seem to do my best work in the mid afternoon for reasons I’m not sure of. LOL

    • Briana Morgan

      It’s certainly not for everyone. I’ve not done much writing out of sequence until this novel. Kudos for you to pushing on and writing! I’m glad you found something that works. 🙂

  3. The Ships’s Voyages
    I think technological know-how just can make it even worse. Now there is a channel to hardly ever care, now there won’t be a opportunity for them to discover.

  4. TBL

    I can see how writing out of sequence could be helpful at times. New and different approaches to a problem can stir up the imagination.