Lifting Yourself Out Of A Writing Slump

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I find writing to be a joyous experience. I love telling stories, living in different worlds and seeing them through my characters’ eyes, feeling what they feel, good and bad. It’s just about the best thing ever. However, there is another side to being a writer – it’s not all lattes and sitting in coffee shops for hours thinking. As writers, we have to deal with writers block, negative reviews, rejection, poor pay, long hours, a WIP that isn’t going where you want it to go, plus the endless slog of self-promotion, and there are times when it all seems too hard. I’ve run up against a couple of challenges myself this week so, on my walk this morning, I made myself a list, tentatively titled: How To Lift Yourself Out of A Writing Slump.

  1. Go for a walk. Get some fresh air and a change of scenery. I often figure out plot points, get inspiration or simply work through frustration while on a walk. Plus it’s good exercise, especially if you’ve been sitting for a while.
  2. Talk to someone. A blogging friend, a fellow writer, your mum. Writing is a solitary profession, but you don’t have to be.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Because most of it is small stuff. Weird tweets, negative ratings, rejection – it hurts, but it doesn’t last forever. Nobody died. In the end, I know I’m extremely fortunate to be writing stories.
  4. However, don’t discount it either. A lot of small stuff can build up into big stuff, so acknowledge that you’re feeling bad for whatever reason, then process it. Choose to make change and move on.
  5. Think before you speak or act. Someone annoyed you on social media? Left a bad review? Given you your 163rd rejection? Count to ten and let it go. Don’t make a bad situation worse.
  6. Write about it. If you’re suffering from writers block this may seem an impossible task. However, sit down, set a timer and just write. Write about how you feel, what you had for lunch, what you can see out the window. Setting things down on paper is a release, and can get you on the right path again.
  7. Take a break. Writing is work, and it’s hard work. So step away from it completely. Have something to eat. Watch an hour of TV. Go out. Disengage. Then come back to your work with fresh eyes.

Of course, sometimes life throws things at us that are too large to dodge simply by going for a walk. That’s different. However, if you’re just feeling a little bit low about this whole writing thing, maybe give one of my suggestions a try.

Happy Friday, everyone!

34 thoughts on “Lifting Yourself Out Of A Writing Slump

    1. Oh, it hurts, don’t get me wrong – my skin is not that thick. It’s just, I’ve chosen to move on from it πŸ™‚ And the fact that people seem to enjoy my writing is a big help.

  1. Never is easy and your suggestions are all wonderful. I am a bit of a ‘have a snack’ man myself – I know, I know – how do I look so good with constant snacking? It’s a challenge, believe me. But then when your body is your temple you might as well work at making it look like St Paul’s…

  2. All good advice, and your first one is the one which ALWAYS works for me… it’s hard not to be inspired when you are surrounded by nature!. 😊 Sorry you had to feel this way this week. πŸ˜™

    1. Thanks, Ali πŸ™‚ It’s been a bit of an up and down week, nothing major, just a couple of frustrating things to deal with. And so I’ve been a bit absent in blog land. Still love writing though!

  3. What a lovely post, Helen! I hate taking a break from writing as I have so many enforced ones due to commitments. I find, however, that when I return to the work I see it with much fresher eyes, and the ideas flow again. By the way, I had to finish reading another book and I’m about to start reading yours. I’m looking forward to it! x

    1. Thanks Louise – I’m glad you enjoyed it πŸ™‚ I had a couple of disappointing things happen this week and so have been a bit absent from blogland – however, onwards and upwards, they have (hopefully) been dealt with. And yay! I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of A Thousand Rooms – thank you again for offering to read. Thank you also for the birthday wishes, I hope we can meet in person one day as well xx

      1. My next trip to England, and goodness knows when that will be, will include your town. (I wouldn’t expect you to include Perth if you came to Ozβ€”the distances here are rather bigger!) x

      2. Oh, that would be so wonderful – I’m very close to London, so if you’re ever there it would be perfect. Yes, sadly Perth isn’t on the cards for a visit back, though Melbourne is – perhaps if it coincides with a visit to your daughter we might yet catch up in Oz. And you never know, I might make it to Perth one day as well πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Mick πŸ™‚ It’s been one of those weeks (though not all bad), so I thought I can either moan about it, or work through it πŸ™‚ I do love my daily walks, they help in so many ways, though I do wonder what people think as I walk along muttering to myself about plot points, staring at the sky as I figure things out πŸ˜€

  4. Great tips Helen, and like many others, going for a walk always works for me. In fact, having a dog I have to go for a walk anyway, but I do come back feeling refreshed and can often break the opening or last line of a story that I’ve had difficulty with. The fresh air helps as does talking to various people along the way. There’s a whole world out there just waiting to help.

    1. Thanks Hugh πŸ™‚ Yes, it’s amazing what a change of scenery and some fresh air can do. I’ve been doing a bit of walking this week, actually, and it definitely does help.

  5. Fantastic advice!! I am in a writer’s slump right now. But I also consider so-called “writer’s block” to be a valuable part of the writing process. It’s my brain saying that it’s tired and would like a break to concentrate elsewhere. This forces a separation from the work and allows the creation of, as you call it, fresh eyes upon return. I have literally experienced this feeling, and it is brilliant. It lets me, for instance, see what was wrong and fix it so that I can move forward. I remember reading an interview with Anne Rice a few years ago and she said that she would have a great sentence just pop into her head, and she would write it down immediately. Now, that meant, lol, on the bathroom wall, on a paper towel, on a mirror/window… yep. So when we think we are going crazy as writers, we have to know that ALL writers are afflicted with some form of insanity. It’s all the process of releasing a fabulous story, and that is how we change the world, isn’t it? One story at a time… πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Linda, I’m pleased you enjoyed the post πŸ™‚ I’m sorry to hear you’re in a writing slump, though – that’s no fun. Like you, I do agree that we need these breaks from time to time, and I love that you can see the positive to having time away from work. I know whenever I finish a story it’s as though I need to stop thinking about writing for a few days, and let the muse lead me to wherever I will be writing next. So perhaps that’s my writer’s ‘insanity’! πŸ˜€ I loved the Anne Rice story too – I do carry a notebook with me for just those kind of moments.

  6. Hey – great post. I am in a slump as have talked myself out of writing a book. Its feels too hard so instead I am sat writing easy short non-fiction blog posts and looking longingly at my book shelf. I swear I need someone to kick my literary butt!!

    1. Oh, Lucy, I’m sorry to hear you’ve talked yourself out of writing your book. I think you’re a great writer and am sending you a metaphorical kick to the literary butt!
      Kidding aside (about the kicking) you have to do what’s best for you, of course. I hope inspiration finds you again xx

    1. Yes, they’re really good! I’ve been enjoying doing a few writing challenges lately, and I think I might even have the seed for another book out of them πŸ™‚ Timed writing always gets me moving as well, even if I only set the timer for 20 minutes.

      1. Yes! I love micro/flash challenges (I just enjoy writing them) but have also written longer pieces from those. It was accidental. Some scene or character spoke to me and I wanted to write more. πŸ™‚ There are so many benefits to flash.

  7. Always good to get a break anyway, whether it’s a walk or just to do something else. Gives you a chance to refresh yourself and go back to the writing with renewed energy. Great post, Helen.

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