You’ve been there. Seated at your designated writing spot while staring down a blank page, hoping all the words would just somehow write themselves. Or maybe you’re in bed, lying awake in the middle of the night, shaming yourself over and over for not writing anything in the past week. No, make that a month. Screw it! You've written nothing in over a year!
You feel like a failure and you tell yourself that you aren’t cut out for the gig and maybe being a writer just isn’t all that you’ve envisioned it to be—but then, what was it you envisioned a writer to be anyway?
Sound familiar? Maybe too familiar? If you’ve been nodding your head while reading the former, then you share common emotions with millions of other writers, contemplating if they really are writers, and on the brink of giving up.
Photo Credit: Angelina Litivin - Unsplash
What is a writing slump?
A writing slump is a low point during your writing journey where you experience the least amount of motivation to write. You’re not inspired, creativity seems so foreign
and you just can’t bring yourself to get the words out. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell yourself that you need to write, you simply can't get through the act of doing so. You doubt yourself, skills, goals and you repeat a vicious cycle of fear and setback.
A writing slump or writer’s block (as some may call it), if not given the proper attention and care, can cause you to end your journey as a writer for good. And if you're someone that is aiming to write full time, learning effective key ways can aid you in pulling yourself out of a slump, ultimately benefiting your success as a writer—whatever that looks like to you.
Why do writers slip into this pitfall?
There are so many reasons writers succumb to a writing slump. The problems may vary from one writer to the next and the intensity of a writing slump is not a one size fits all sort of thing. Writers that experience a slump don’t all feel it in the same ways. There may be two writers dealing with the same block or issue within their writing, however, they can both be experiencing it in two different ways.
Let’s deep dive and inspect some of the reasons writers may experience a writing slump.
Lack of Motivation
Motivation plays a vital role in you being a writer, and frantically, if you have little of it, you may never write a thing. All writers (even the OG’s) need to be driven. I don’t care what the gurus are saying these days, you need to want to write.
If you’re employed and go to work every day, but you hate your job, there’s still something that forces you to get up every day, and head to the very place you despise. You may have a family to take care of, or you could be saving for something. Whatever the reason is, it is what will compel you to go to work. You want to support your family, so you work. You want to save for a car, so you work. You want to be a best-selling author, so you write.
If you don’t want to write, then guess what—you ain’t writing! And you’ll be singing yourself a song of shoulda, woulda, coulda, with nothing to show for! Is that what you want?
Your want is what will compel you to finish working on a project. It’s what will give you that little extra push when you just can’t after an intensive writing session. It will get you through the yucky days and even the reaaaaaaally yucky days. Maintaining a sense of drive to write is what gets the thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto paper (or computer screen).
If motivation can’t get you to sit your butt into a chair and figure out how to express all of that wonderful creativity dancing around in your head, then you just don’t want to write, and never will. And that’s absolutely okay, if that’s what you want.
What if you’re tackling a ba-zillion projects all at once, pushing yourself to get everything done, meet all the deadlines, smash all your goals and you feel like your head is bound to explode in between you maintaining your workflow? That, my friend, is the feeling of being overwhelmed, and is a time when you have to be real with yourself and prioritize.
As writers, we really think we can handle everything. All the projects, the entire list of to do’s. We get a shiny new idea and want to work on it, although we have two other projects that we’re in the middle of, it’s no wonder why so many of us get burned out fast, especially when we are first starting out.
Feelings of anxiety can strike during your writing journey. You may be anxious because of a deadline, or perhaps you’re releasing your debut novel and have concerns if the launch will go as planned. You might be worried about being able to write with so many other responsibilities. Whatever the reason, anxiety can stop you dead in your tracks and fill your mind with a terrible fear that can last a lifetime.
Lack of Self-Discipline
Listen. We all need it and some of us need it more than others. The bottom line is simple. If you’re not disciplined with your writing, you’ll have a hard time getting any of it done. Sure, you’ll write a few hundred words here and there, but will it be enough to publish an entire novel? Short story? Well, maybe yes to a short story, since those can run less than a few hundred words, but you get the point. No discipline, no content. No content, then what are you really doing?
One of the most common fears any writer can face at any point, level or stage of writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out in the game or publish ten books a year, imposter syndrome hits hard and doesn’t care about you or your fears. You need grit, endurance and drive to not let imposter syndrome take over you or your writing projects.
Health Related Issue
Life happens, and sometimes our health gets kicked in the butt, preventing us from even brainstorming a story idea. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that happens every day to writers worldwide. Some can bear the energy and continue to write while others may need to stop all together.
Lack of Support
Writing is a lonely art, however, writers thrive off of motivation and support. It’s helpful to have honest and caring ones in our corner to help us get through all the tough days and celebrate the good ones. A strong support team or community can boost productivity, but when a writer lacks support, it can be an even more lonely struggle, causing self-doubt and an unenthusiastic demeanor.
You can't think yourself out of a writing block; You have to write yourself out of a thinking block - John Rogers
Nine Ways To Get Out of A Writing Slump
So what can a writer do to not fall susceptible to the former? (Minus the health issues, because sometimes we have no control over that!) Let’s dive right into the reason you’re still reading through this post—And without further ado, in no particular order, nine ways to get out of a writing slump and get back to writing:
1.Create A Writing Routine/Refresh An Old One
You need a system. A set plan that you can execute regularly and follow through with consistently. This is where a writing routine can seriously become the one thing, if nothing else, that holds you accountable as a writer.
Creating a writing routine can allow for organization, efficiency, and a better writing experience altogether! And a making a routine isn’t the challenging part. Sticking to your routine takes determination and grit.
2.Maintain A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can boost your productivity as a writer. When you fuel your body with a diet that maximizes your writing potential, you put yourself on a road for success.
Incorporating a healthy diet into your writing life will give you the energy needed to push through your writing sessions. If all you’re eating is junk food, you will burnout fast and crash, and there’s potential to not get back to the writing.
Brain foods such as avocados, broccoli, salmon, walnuts, blueberries, tomatoes, turmeric, rosemary, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and even moderate consumption of red wine (getting hungry?) will nourish the brain and give you the energy you need to keep you creative!
3.Get Adequate Rest
You need to sleep. Like every single day. Getting rest will replenish you, refresh you and recharge you. Your entire body needs hours of relaxing to function properly throughout the day.
Tik Tok and Instagram are AMAZING platforms for networking and finding the latest trends. However, they will not help you finish your WIP. The same goes for watching TV, or surfing online. If you sacrifice your sleep time for the internet, you’ll be too exhausted to work.
Bottom line: Get your rest! You can set slots of time aside for the internet/television, which will always be available to you!
Exercise can be beneficial to your overall health, but incorporating exercise into your writing routine can do wonders for productivity and creativity!
When I started implementing stretching and low impact exercising, I notice that not only had my energy levels spiked, but I would have a flood of ideas enter my head, so much so that I started keeping a small notebook handy to store all the new information I was receiving.
Exercising can lower blood pressure, improve physical strength and reduce stress, all things that can help your performance in the long run. Walking the dog, light stretching, cycling, and dancing are great ways to get those muscles and joints moving and helping you get inspired and overcome a block.
5.Find Writing Support Groups/Communities
I already covered why support for writers is an essential component for every writer’s journey. Now let's look at where you can find some support.
Joining a writers support group can help you. You can gain constructive feedback, motivation and inspiration from people that are doing the same thing as you.
Writing groups and communities are jam-packed with individuals like yourself that want to see you succeed and win. Groups do not have to be large, they can range from a few people to a few hundred people. The quality of support you can gain should be your top priority when searching for a community.
Writing is a lonely art and being a part of these types of groups is so helpful because sometimes we need others to be there and cheer us on. More than likely, the folks already in our circle, like family and close friends will not understand entirely where we are coming from with our art, so, when we find and connect with others, that can empathize with our process and struggles, it makes the craft so much easier to bear.
6.Locate Accountability Partners
Just like the former, accountability partners are awesome for motivating you along your writing journey. They hold you accountable and want to see you accomplish your goals.
Accountability partners are useful because they can keep you on task, help you meet your deadlines and provide feedback on your work. A few accountability partners should suffice but I know writers that have many, it really depends on how much support you need.
7.Don’t Compare Your Work or Worth To Someone Else
It’s NEVER a good thing to compare your hard work to someone else’s. Doing this will in fact put you on a road of failure and cause you mental damage that you just can’t afford as a writer.
Be willing to trust yourself and trust what you write. Even at the infancy stages of a manuscript, believe in your own skills as a writer to produce fine works! When you compare your work, you open the door for imposter syndrome and self-doubt. You can read more on this point in my blog post, comparing yourself to other writers.
8.Track your Progress
Tracking your progress can be one key factor to you finishing your WIP. Sometimes, when we can’t see how far we’ve come along in a project, we think the end will never come. But if you track when you write, where, duration and even how you felt before or after a writing session, the “end” may not appear far-fetched!
Pinterest has some of the most amazing word-tracking templates you can use to help you stay on task.
9.Utilize A Journal
Journaling is one of the most tranquil ways to write. Some writers use it to keep track of their WIPs, others use it to reflect on their lives. Personally, I keep two, one for life reflections and the other for brainstorming and story development. Using a journal has helped me to flesh out characters and work through some sticky scenes. I also find that journal writing helps me to get stuck less often in my stories.
I encourage all writers to use a journal, as it will unlock inspiration and even spark creativity.
That’s it for now, friend! Stay tuned for the conclusion of this two-part blog post, How To Push Through A Writing Slump.
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Til next time,