When you’re writing to a deadline, either one given or one you’ve set yourself, it can be a tricky balance between getting the words down and enjoying it. I’m not currently in this rut, but I have definitely been there before. When the love has gone and all you are left with is a blank screen and a mocking, flashing vertical line. You want to love writing but for some reason, the words you force out turn to dust on the page. The fire in your belly has been put out – maybe by rejection, maybe by something else. So how do you rekindle your love for writing?
- First, and most importantly, take the pressure off. Take time off – a day, a week, a month, even a year. There is no big law that says you must write now and you must love it. You are the boss of writing, not the other way around!
- Write something pointless, or in other words, something that has no associated pressure. I use flash fiction for a warm up. Every now and again, one of them will be good enough to send somewhere, but this isn’t why I write it.
- If you can’t write, could you plan instead? My writing has stalled in the past when I haven’t known where my story is going, or there are so many permutations possible, that I have no idea which is the right way to go.
- Square up to the question: is this story right for you? I’ve had several cracking ideas for stories which I just didn’t feel passionately enough about. After a few thousand words, the enthusiasm fizzled out. Great stories, but not for me to write. (Don’t be fooled however, all stories feel truly awful about halfway into a first draft. That’s where you have to push through – for me that’s in the 30-38k range).
- Talking about it with people who understand helps. When you’re in this pit, it’s easy to think that it only happens to you. It doesn’t. Writers do sometimes struggle to write. That’s okay.
- If you usually use a keyboard, try writing longhand. Use one of those gorgeous notepads you’ve got stashed away. Maybe try keeping a diary.
- Write somewhere different: try a cafe, the library, a park bench, the kid’s swimming lesson. Mix it up a bit.
- Recharge your inner you: go to art galleries, walk and take note of your surroundings, read books not in the genre you’re writing, listen to music, watch movies, do the things that feed your imagination. Consider reducing the things that drain you (as much as I love you Twitter, I’m looking at you).
Remember that the writer’s life is cyclical. Sometimes things are going well, sometimes they aren’t. If your words aren’t flowing, mentally shrug and move on. Gently encourage yourself but don’t force. They’ll come back. And until they do, enjoy the other things you have in your life.