So everyone’s heard of the winter blahs, but what about writing blahs? You know what I’m talking about: those times when you’ll do everything, and I mean everything (including but not limited to: cleaning out the closet, checking the mouse traps –ew- paying your estimated taxes, reading catalogs you’ll never order from, and hell, even exercising…to name just a few things that, ahem, I might have done today) to put off writing. I’m smack in the middle of these writing blahs. Even writing this blog post was an excruciating exercise in discipline. (Thanks, Teri, for my deadline or I’d never have made it!) I’m a writer by trade and by implicit definition, so…what can I do to get back on track?
The answer is: I’m not sure. Which is part of the reason for this post. I’m hoping that you can help.
First, let me say that I think this burnout or maybe more accurately, this lack of real desire to hit the keyboard running, is entirely normal. There are days, weeks and months when I can’t start writing fast enough and when it’s all I can do to slow down the hours in the day so I have more time for work. So, I suppose, this ennui is the ying to that yang. Normal; nothing too concerning.
Still though, I don’t entirely enjoy it. I grow antsy with my boredom, resentful of the actual work I do have, and generally listless. I want to be burning up the keyboard, so now, I have to find a way to light that inner-fire because checking the mousetraps in my kitchen isn’t doing it. Here are some of the things that have, in the past, helped relight that flame:
- Forcing myself to write. Sometimes I find –as I’m finding in this blog post – that once I start, it comes a heck of a lot easier than I thought it would when I was doing everything BUT writing.
-Taking a day off. (I already did that. See above.) But in all seriousness, sometimes just as it’s important to push through the block, it’s important to give yourself breathing room and some mental distance from your work. You’ll return fresher and better for it.
-Reading something that someone else wrote: something great that makes me want to better my own writing.
-Find something you’re really and truly excited to be working on. This might be an article that’s paying you a bucket load of money or it might be your fiction that no one is paying you for (yet). But the surest way to break out of your rut is to get inspired.
And that last item is just my problem. I wrapped the draft to my next novel, and now, I’m looking for my next great idea to psyche me up. Once I find it, I know that I’ll more than make up for these wasted days by writing for hours on end. Using the law of averages, it should all come out even.
But tell me, what do you do when you’ve hit a writing wall?