At the end of your rope.
One of the many cliche's that novice writers use when they don't know how to say anything else.
How do we get past the cliches and into the meat of a novel?
Practice. I know, I hate that word too. Makes me feel like I'm back in school again. But it's true. The more you write the more aware you are of these little slip ups.
Try thinking outside of the box. Imagine a way to visually paint your phrase in a way that is unique.
I read a great one yesterday. "The smoke coiled like a white snake." The first thought that popped into my mind was danger. And that's exactly how the scene unfolded.
Think of the message that you want to portray and what imagery could be used to describe it. In the snake example you can imagine exactly how the smoke curled towards the ceiling like a snake slithering around a tree.
What example could you come up with to describe the smoke?