How to Deal With a Writing Slump
One day you’re writing hundreds or thousands of words. The next day your word count plummets to zero. Writing slumps happen to everybody. They can last for a long time. Weeks and months. Sometimes even years. They may derail your writing projects and make you question whether you have what it takes to be a writer.
There are many tricks and tactics designed to prevent you from falling into a slump. These can work very well, but even if you do everything right, you're never entirely immune. Your creativity ebbs and flows naturally. It's part of the process.
While that makes sense in theory, it's much harder to deal with these changes in practice. You may have been building your writing routine for a long time and making plans for all the stories that you wanted to write. It isn't easy to see everything fall back to zero.
Here's what to do when you find yourself in a writing slump.
Ask Yourself Why
We've all heard the usual advice: take it easy, read a book, refill your creative well. These aren't wrong, but before you jump to conclusions, ask yourself, 'Why?'
What's up? Why are you not feeling like writing? Do you lack motivation? Are you not interested in the project anymore? Are you running out of ideas? Too busy, too tired? Are you worried that the story won't be good enough? Are you afraid of being judged?
There are many reasons why you may be feeling stuck. Simply taking a moment to reflect and figure out what's wrong will have a huge impact.
Sometimes, the answers will be right there. If you haven't been sleeping well recently, that's bound to have an impact on your writing. More often, it will be harder to find out the true cause.
Journal Your Answers
Once you start asking yourself these questions, write down your answers. Having to articulate your thoughts in writing will force you to think it through. You will have to face these questions instead of quietly dodging them in your mind.
And you will be writing. You may choose not to count these words towards your daily goal which is fair, but even going through the motions of putting words on the page will help.
You don't have to read your journal entries or even keep them if you don't want to. The process of writing your thoughts down is what's valuable.
Celebrate Past Successes
If you use a writing tracker, now is a good idea to look at the data. Go back to the months when you were at your best. See how many words you were able to write back then.
Re-read some of your past stories that you're proud of. If you've published before, look at the positive reactions and rave reviews.
You did it before, and you will be able to do it again. Nobody is at their best all the time.
Take the Next Step
Now that you better understand why you're not living up to your creative expectations, take the next step. This is where all the productivity hacks come to play.
Maybe you need more accountability, or you might need to go to a coffee shop so you can focus better on your work. Maybe you need to read a book or two to feel more inspired. Once you're aware of the problem, there are usually thousands of ways to fix it.
Writing Analytics has a number of these built-in to help you stay accountable and motivated. It helps you set goals and tracks your progress as you write.
Take a Real Break
Sometimes this works. But there will be times where no amount of productivity hacks will help. You're getting closer to burning out. It's time to take a real break from writing.
This may seem scary at first — to stop writing for a few weeks. But if you're burning out, any schemes to get more things done only make things worse.
Trying to write but failing isn't taking a break. You're stressed out about it and beating yourself up. You're treading water, but the pressure is still on. A real break is when you get up in the morning and have no intention to write anything that day.
Set a reminder for a week from now and drop all your writing goals until then. You may still write in your journal but don't work on your main project. When the date comes, see whether you need more time or you're ready to jump back in.
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