Write outside your comfort zone.
For me, that is poetry. Sheesh, am I bad at it! But I find that writing poetry– no matter how awful– helps me get to the emotional heart of a scene/situation. So, I will write a poem (often from the POV of my main character) to help distill the essentials of a story moment. Those few words serve as stepping stones for finding my way to the heart of a scene and, somehow, makes writing tough scenes less daunting.
For Hattie Big Sky, I wrote dozens of cinquains* to help launch the emotional plane of Hattie’s story. Here’s one example, created as I was thinking about why people would leave their established homes to homestead in undeveloped parts of the country (fyi: Circle and Glendive are Montana town names):
The Trip West
on twelve dollar tickets
not to Circle or Glendive but
Give it a go! It may work for you.
*Cinquains are a truly American form of poetry, five lines line. The first line contains 2 syllables, the second line 4 syllables, the third line 6 syllables, the fourth line 8 syllables and the final line 2 syllables. Thanks to Ann Whitford Paul for teaching me about this form!
I’ve done this also, Kirby and found that free-verse poetry helps me “unblock” and get into character and conflict.