Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Writing can feel fickle. One week you crank out ten thousand words and the next you can’t bring yourself to finish a single sentence.
This creative cycle is completely normal. Writing is hard. You’re making something from nothing. You’re not going to be able to go full throttle 24/7.
However, this dip in creative energy or word flow can be stressful and discouraging when it goes on for too long. If you still have a deep passion for writing, you can’t let this lull stop you.
I’ve compiled my top tips for falling back in love with your writing. Think of it as chicken soup for the writer’s soul.
Try Something New
Sometimes we can get so stuck on the BIG PROJECT that we forget we don’t always have to be working towards some novel-length, Nobel-worthy project.
Write just for writing’s sake.
If you write poetry, try a short story. If you write romance, write something paranormal. My fellow fantasy writers out there can give realistic fiction a shot.
Not only does this help you develop a more diverse skill set, but it exercises your writing muscle in a no-pressure way. You never have to share this writing with anyone if it’s simply to shake things up, but maybe it will turn into something you can get excited about.
If you’re having trouble breaking from your norm, try one of these 25 writing exercises I assembled to help re-energize, motivate, and inspire.
Look Back at Old Writing
If looking forward doesn’t help, try looking backward.
Pick up your first journal and laugh at how you overused that cliché phrase and appreciate how you’ve grown as a writer.
Read over the first notes you made while brainstorming and remember the excitement you felt while meeting your characters for the first time.
Find quotes you’d forgotten you’d written and bask in how powerful they are.
You must have started on this crazy writing journey for a reason. Take some time to revisit why you love it.
It’s not procrastination if it’s a step in the right direction.
I have two non-writing methods to help get you and writing back on good terms. I am a huge supporter of both.
Pinterest--You may have seen the idea of WIP/Book boards floating around, and I am here to tell you that they work. Find quotes, images, aesthetics, artwork, colors, or anything that reminds you of your current project and pin them to a dedicated Pinterest board. Create a beautiful visual collection that encapsulates your story.
Spotify--Make a playlist of songs that remind you of your current project. This could be mood, theme, plot, or character-inspired. Anything that makes you think of your story. Struggling with where to start? The Spotify algorithm (in all its magical goodness) is great at suggesting new songs based on ones you’ve liked. Create a playlist that stirs the emotions and imagery of your story.
Both of these methods can help stimulate your creativity and get you in the right headspace without forcing a pen to the page.
Don’t freak out! I know us writers can be a little protective of our stories, but trust me.
Give a critique partner/friend/someone you trust an excerpt from your current WIP (you know, the one you’re currently having a fight with) and ask them to share their thoughts on it.
But tell them you’re looking for positive feedback ONLY.
Ask them to point out specific lines they liked or parts that made them feel something.
There comes a time for critical critiques but now is not that time. You need someone to look you in the eyes and remind you that your writing is worth something.
Not only is this validating, but it’s encouraging. You’ve written powerful, meaningful words in the past, so you can do it again. Even if you haven’t been feeling the best, you have the same intelligent mind and unique voice.
Take a Break
This is the method that scares me the most and it might scare you, too. But it is tried and true.
Put the manuscript away. Close your laptop. Set a length of time for yourself where you will NOT look at any of your writing projects. This can be a couple of days. Or a week. Or a month.
This is not you giving up or abandoning your craft.
This is you recharging to reunite with your writing when you’ve had time to reset.
And this is not a useless vacation. Use this time off from writing to refill your creative well. Go on a walk, watch movies, read new books, read old favorites, paint, take photos, listen to music, etc. Absorb the world and stories around you.
When your decided time is over (and NOT before, you sneaky writer!), you’ll be brimming with creativity and excitement to translate onto the page.
Engage With the Writing Community
Search “#writingcommunity” or “#amwriting(yourgenre)” on your favorite social media platform and see what pops up. Like things you relate to and follow authors and writers you resonate with. See that you’re not alone on this journey.
If you already have a platform, reach out to an account that you’ve always loved and have a meaningful conversation. A simple “Hi! I love x, y, and x about your profile. Can you tell me more about x?” can start so many inspiring conversations. I’ve met some of my closest Instagram friends this way!
Try reading captions and blog posts about the topics, genres, tropes, methods, etc. that interest you. (Look! You’re already doing this!) Oftentimes I find that hearing someone else get excited about writing gets me excited, too!
It’s not possible for everyone (especially in these social-distancing times), but try to find other writers near you, too. In-person communities can boost your motivation so much.
Be wary of the comparison game, though. This is not about measuring your progress with someone else’s. This is about learning from others and engaging with a community that cares and understands. Surrounding yourself with like-minded creators gives your head the permission to imagine and your heart the inspiration to create.
Be Honest With Yourself
Get out a blank notebook page. Ask yourself why you and writing are not seeing eye-to-eye. Write about how you feel and describe your current relationship with writing. Be real. Be honest.
Are you afraid of failure? Is your personal/professional life taking up too much of your emotional energy? Have you been struggling with imposter syndrome or self-doubt? Does your current WIP specifically no longer interest you?
Pinpointing the why can show you the best way to overcome your frustration.
Read what you wrote on that page. Make an action plan from there to decide how to take the next step in your writing journey.
Bring It All Together...
Writing isn’t easy, but we writers are a tough breed. You can find your passion, again.
There is nothing wrong or unhealthy about going through a rough patch. We all go through seasons of life. It does not make you any less of a writer. The pen and the page and the laptop will be there whenever you can get back to it.
If writing is something you genuinely have a passion for, I believe you can find your spark, again.
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Write on the Exhale.