I’ll admit it.
I frequently write myself into a hole and can’t get out.
Some people call this Writer’s Block. Others call it Lack of Inspiration/Motivation. Sometimes, it stems from needing to take a break.
Whatever you call it, the issue is the same: getting stuck. It happens to seasoned writers as well as newbies, so you’d think someone would have found a way around this, right?
Because the solution is different for everyone.
These are a three ways that help me not write myself into the bottomless pit of doom:
This didn’t use to be my first go-to, but recently, I’ve had to start being more in-tune with how much energy I have. When mental or physical exhaustion are present, it’s pretty easy to get “stuck” when the “stuck-ness” is really just tiredness. It’s okay to take a rest. Watch a movie. Walk the dog. Take a nap. Resting is just as important as writing itself.
Identify the source of the issue. What’s causing you to slow down? Has the story lost it’s joy? Is something in life sapping your strength and passion for writing? Whatever the cause for the delay is, it’s important to identify the problem so you can better know what the solution may be.
As a recovering panster, this one is tough for me. I just can’t spend hours upon hours upon hours pre-writing my story before sitting down to draft it. I would die of boredom or from falling asleep on the pointy part of my pencil.
But I still need to outline. I use what I call a skeleton outline, which is a combination of the Snowflake Method and my own method (blog post forthcoming on the matter). However, sometimes my skeleton is a little too dry. Sometimes, in the middle of the story, I need to go back and re-work the outline, add more to it, or if I’ve been really naughty, actually write an outline. (Sometimes I skip this step and greatly regret it.)
A commonly used solution for getting out of pits is to keep writing, this has proved to be more harmful for me than helpful. It is important to push through the tough stuff and keep going. Sometimes. Often, forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do will make you hate writing. And none of us want that to happen.
Think of writing as a kind of training game. You enjoy writing, therefore, your brain associates writing with happiness. But when it gets hard, starts to drag, and the joy drains away–yet you still force yourself, you brain begins to associate writing with frustration and anger.
Take your least favorite food. (Mine are cooked beets. >.<) Am I going to learn to like beets if I force feed myself to eat them three times a day? NO!! Other than the fact that my stomach doesn’t let beets reside there for any amount of time (TMI, i know), I’m still going to hate them just as much–if not more–if I have to eat them three times a day. The same principle applies to writing.
There is definitely a time and a place to just keep writing. It isn’t the way to climb out of every hole, though.
What are some ways you get yourself out of holes?