2. You have a ton of ideas but can’t commit to any of them, and they all peter out.
Now this is slightly harder. Even this problem can take a few different forms — there’s the ideas that you lose interest in after a few paragraphs, and then there’s the idea that you thought was a novel, but it’s actually a short story. (More about that here.) The thing is, ideas are dime a dozen — but ideas that get your creative juices flowing are a lot rarer. Oftentimes, the coolest or most interesting ideas are the ones that peter out fastest, and the dumbest ideas are the ones that just get your motor revving like crazy. It’s annoying, but can you do?
My own experience is that usually, you end up having to throw all those ideas out. If they’re not getting any traction, they’re not getting any traction. Save them in a file, come back to them a year or ten later, and maybe you’ll suddenly know how to tackle them. You’ll have more experience and a different mindset then. It’s possible someone with more stubbornness could make one of those idea work right away, but probably not — the reason you can’t get anywhere with any of them is because they’re just not letting you tell the story you really want to tell, down in the murky subconscious.
The good news? Usually when I’m faced with the “too many ideas, none of them works” problem, I’m a few days away from coming up with the idea that does work, like gangbusters. Your mind is working in overdrive, and it’s close to hitting the jackpot.
3. You have an outline but you can’t get through this one part of it.
Some writers work really well with an outline, some don’t. For some writers, the point of having an outline is to have a road to drive off, a straight line to deviate from as far as possible. Plus, every project is different — even if you’re an outline fan usually, there’s always the possibility that you need to grope in the dark for this one particular story.
by Charlie Jane Anders