Attitude and Action are Everything – Avoiding Writing Slumps
A writing slump is a slightly different animal from writer’s block, which is a total lack of inspiration — the inability to write something new. A writing slump, however, is the lack of writing in general. All the ideas and little notes of inspiration you’ve written to yourself suddenly seem uninteresting and uninspiring.
A couple of weeks ago, that was where I found myself– in a writing slump.
I became terribly antisocial and brooding. I was depressed that despite all my best intentions to write every day, I found myself not writing. The ideas were there; lots of different ideas waiting and wanting to be fleshed out into stories, but still I couldn’t write.
I constantly wondered why I couldn’t write. I questioned whether my writing had somehow changed. If I had somehow changed.
I began to think that I wasn’t meant to be a writer.
Then it dawned on me that just being in the slump was not the big problem, but my attitude at being in the slump was. I didn’t have an external source to give me confidence in myself as a writer.
What I needed is to produce my own source of positivity. I needed to take action.
As writers, we know that blocks and slumps come with the territory. They’re bound to happen from time to time. Despite know it’s part of the job description, we seem to forget that writing slumps happen to everyone. Every single writer experiences it!
What is important to remember is that it’s crucial to take action and do something about it.
The only way out of a slump is quite simply to do something about it.
Of course, if you’re in a slump, this can be easier said than done.
Luckily, there are a lot of different techniques and methods writers use to get out of a writing slump. Techniques work differently for different writers, so experiment with various ones until you find what works for you.
Here are some of the better techniques that seem to work best for most writers.
1. Positive affirmation – This goes beyond just thinking positively. Before settling into your usual writing session, take a few minutes to boost your writing confidence by writing affirmations. For example, “I write passionately. I am creative. I am an amazingly talented writer.” It sounds a little cheesy, but the point of this exercise is to boost your confidence. Don’t just write the affirmations, concentrate and believe in them.
2. Create a writing schedule – Try to write during the same time each day. Creating a routine will keep your brain focused on writing. It can take time to put yourself on a writing schedule, so you really have to stick to your guns on this one. If you’re still having trouble disciplining yourself to write during your designated time, try using a timer.
3. Reread and/or Retype – To help get back into the swing of the story you are working on, reread or retype the last page or two (or three…). This helps to put you into the mindset of the story and its characters. This is especially useful if you work on multiple projects. If rewriting something you’ve already written doesn’t appeal to you, try rewriting the last scene from the point-of-view of a different character. Rewriting from a different perspective not only helps get your back into the mindset of the story, but it helps you grow as a writer.
4. Know when to stop – You’re less likely to hit a slump if you stop writing at a point where you know what the next sentence or scene will be. Jot down a little note if you have something specific you want to include, but beyond that, stop. This may seem counterproductive, but if you know what you are going to say next in the story, you are less likely to fall into a writer’s slump if you quit while you’re ahead. If you don’t want to stop writing, but want to avoid a slump, try working on something new.
5. Go online – There are literally hundreds of places you can turn to as a writer to find inspiration. The Internet provides unending support for all aspects of writing. For starters, visit 100 Useful Web Tools for Writers or Writing Fix. When in doubt, remember that the internet is a powerful resource. So are Facebook and Twitter for that matter. Why not ask your online social circle to provide you with prompts? Mix and match feedback until you find something that sparks your inspiration.
6. Mix it up – Take a break from your routine. Organize your writing area, read the newspaper (or a novel, if the news isn’t your thing), or work on another hobby (for example, I enjoy knitting). Being busy with something else can help restore your inspiration. If you are still finding yourself in a slump, try a change of scenery. Take your laptop to a coffee shop, library, or even a park. Sometimes something as simple as writing in a new environment can reinvigorate your creativity.
Of course, there are a lot more techniques that can help you get out of your slump. These six just happen to be some of my favorites that work for me. Find what works for you, stay positive and start writing.
Alice McElwee is a public relations and journalism student at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is an aspiring author and her blog, Adorably Alice, chronicles her writing adventures through monthly goal settings and the joining of various writing challenges on the web. When not writing, she’s knitting, and she runs a small online knitting company known as The Yarn Panda.