You Sit Down to Write… and “Got Nothing.”

nothingToday I was given a gift. My husband took my son to the beach and my daughter just wanted to chill out and watch Netflix all morning. I was given hours to simply write and work on my latest WIP, Book #3 in the Kelsey Porter series.

Well, I sat in my favorite writing spot (on my bed with the laptop on a mini desk on my lap) and opened the story to the latest part, put my fingers on the keyboard and…. nothing. I stared at the screen in shock. Nothing? I couldn’t have nothing – I had three hours to write and I couldn’t come up with anything. I couldn’t waste this precious time!

But waste it I was starting to do. I wrote a line, deleted it and then was so bummed I clicked on Twitter to complain about my ridiculous first world problems.

My tweet: My family just gave me a full hour to write – it’s quiet, in my favorite spot, been staring at the screen for 10 minutes. I got nothing!

And then I sat there waiting for responses, because I still had nothing and what better way to waste time then stare at twitter and wait for some of my 29K followers to respond. True to form, my lovely twitter peeps didn’t disappoint. Some of the best replies?

@elysesalpeter Just keep your butt in the chair & stay off twitter! It’ll come.
@elysesalpeter i usually watch the documentary channel for a book inspiration?
@elysesalpeter Blow something up. Start a fire. Give your characters a different mind set. Always works for me.

So what did I do? I listened to my tweeps. I got off twitter, I opened the WIP and I simply started writing an argument between two main characters, then someone went missing and then I added a scene about how two characters felt about each other… I don’t know if they are any good, but after having nothing all morning, I cranked out over 2,500 words after that.

We all go through moments when we “got nothing.” I think the trick is to “find something out of nothing” and just muddle through. To be honest, that’s what a first draft is all about. We shouldn’t stress about first drafts. They’re supposed to be rough, garbage, stepped on, ripped apart. The trick is to just get the story down and the framework laid.

So this post goes out to my twitter peeps who chimed in and gave me some cool advice. You guys rock!

So what do you do when “you got nothing?”

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9 thoughts on “You Sit Down to Write… and “Got Nothing.”

  1. Sometimes ‘nothing’ can give you so much. I didn’t know what to do. I felt I’d written myself into a corner so I got a fresh cup of coffee then proceeded to stare at the screen. Finally I typed “What about the natives at the gate.” What the hell was I thinking? Who were they? What did they want? I had my protagonist go shake hands and welcome the strangers and I couldn’t stop myself as the next eight thousand words (2 plus chapters) tumbled onto the screen from my fingers. One of my beta readers said it was some of the most original and exciting stuff she’d read. Sometimes I think some of my best stuff comes from “nothing” and still, I don’t know where it comes from. LOL. Worst case scenario – type “The shot rang out.” even if the story takes place in ancient Egypt. It will get your mindset to thinking differently as to how such an occurrence happens.

  2. The “Nothing” is always there before I am putting my fingers on the key board, as soon as they are on, and my unfinished book is in front of me on the screen, the ideas are coming, and my fingers fly over the key board. I have that stupid fear before.

  3. I had that happen only a couple of times, and I always sit and write something, the first time I wrote a lot of swear words, haha, honestly, it was garbage for about a paragraph then the words came. You sound like you had a lovely morning just the same, Elyse. And…OMGosh how did you get so many Twitter “friends”?

  4. Having nothing is maddening. What I do–look at the story to see if there’s a problem I didn’t see, switch and write a different short, or worst case, open another file and start editing.

    • Thank you so much for commenting – I love the ideas. I do tend to edit when I can’t think of anything but usually I edit and add content at the same time, so I feel like I’m writing!

  5. I try to let my characters speak to me, imagine how they look walking into a room or down a path, imagine what they might be saying to each other. Since my characters are never quiet, that usually does the trick. If not, I read through some of my research and write anything that might pertain to the place I’m stuck. Why not? I can always edit later and put it in a better place if I want. I love the freedom in first drafts, we can start and stop anywhere. Glad to hear the story got going again, keep writing while it’s quiet. Interruptions are coming soon.

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