If you’ve been following the last couple of posts, you’ll know we’re taking the basic theory of troubleshooting and applying it to our writing. In the last post we identified the problem we may be experiencing and what are the obvious causes of that problem. Now we’re going to look at the next steps of the troubleshooting process:

STEP 3: Test the theory to determine cause – Once the theory is confirmed, determine the next steps to resolve problem. If the theory is not confirmed, establish a new theory or escalate.

STEP 4: Act – Establish a plan of action to resolve the problem and implement the solution.

STEP 5: Test and prevent – Verify full system functionality and, if applicable, implement preventative measures.

In the previous post, Step 2 talked about identifying the obvious culprit to your writer’s block. Lets take one of those issues as an example:

Problem: I’ve been doing discovery writing and have hit a wall in my plot. How do I move my story forward?

Obvious culprit: The plot wall I’ve hit is the cause of my writer’s block.



How do we proceed with Step 3 and test our theory? 

  • I could back up the story to a decision point in the plot and go a different direction and see where it takes me.
  • I could kill off a character or remove them from the overall story (imprisoned for a crime; visiting Europe on vacation, etc) and see how that forces the story forward.
  • I could outline the next part to work through all viable story options, then pick the best one and go that direction. It may mean additional writing or re-writing, but if it works. . .
  • I could do something crazy and unexpected with the story, which may mean three things; 1) I need to go back and add some lead up in earlier chapters to justify this crazy thing; 2) I need to re-write entire sections
  • Since this is a first draft, I could simply pick up in a future part of the story and go from there. Either I’ll fill the gap in the process or I’ll have to do some fixing during the editing process.

One way to test this theory / solution is to read. Yes, not write, but read. If you find others are having the same problem and they too identified a solution similar to your’s then you’re on the right track.

Also, you may need to play with each solution you think of in order to find the one that best helps you with your specific writing challenge. Which leads us into Step 4 and where the rubber meets the road. You need to ACT!

Pick what a solution that may be “best” or at least give you more options to write and do it. Don’t worry about the results just yet.

If the problem is getting stuck on the plot wall, did that solution in fact get you writing? If you pull out another project and get stuck in the say way, will the solution you picked work for that project too?

Step 5 is similar to Step 4, in that you need to do something and not just sit there. There is a good chance that whatever was causing writer’s block on this project happens with other projects. We need to test to see if our solution can be a consistent fix or not. Test solutions whenever your writing issue raises it’s nasty head and you’ll find you’ll inadvertently build your “tool kit” for helping you in many writing situations.

The next post we’ll talk about the final STEP 6: Report – Document findings, actions, and outcomes.

If troubleshooting your writing can get you moving forward in your growth with writing then it’s doing its job. Keep working on self-analysis (not self-editing during the writing process) by putting into action your fix/solution. Not to mention, solutions get easier with practice.

Keep focused. Keep asking yourself questions on how you’re writing is doing. Keep writing.