I recently went through a writer’s lull. I was trying to work on my second novel but for some reason, I couldn’t focus. I knew how I wanted to rewrite and edit the story, I just couldn’t get myself to sit in front of the computer and do it. This went on for weeks and it was beginning to frustrate me. The ideas were all there, but somehow I wasn’t motivated.
Determined to get back on track, I changed my routines and tried new things. It worked.
If you’ve been feeling uninspired to write lately, here are 12 ways to get you back on track:
Take a break. Working on the same manuscript for days or months can be daunting. Give it time to rest and go back to it a few days, a few weeks, or a few months later.
Change where you write. If you usually write in the living room, try writing in the kitchen, or in the bedroom. If that doesn’t work, leave the house and try writing at a coffee shop, at a library, or at a park. A change of venue could do the trick.
Change when you write. If you usually write in the mornings, try writing at night. And if you usually have a set time for writing, don’t have one. Instead of writing for three hours straight, try writing for just an hour and then take a break.
Switch it up. If you find yourself staring blankly at the computer screen, try writing on a piece of paper. Get a notebook and a pen and start free writing. This always works for me.
Listen to Music. And not just the same music you normally listen to. Change it up and try new genres.
Watch a Movie. Pick your favorite blockbuster flick, or check out a new movie. Take advantage of your Netflix membership and explore old films, new films, foreign films, and independent films. Movies always help inspire me.
Pack a bag and go somewhere. If you’re on a tight budget, taking a day off, or a little weekend getaway somewhere close by could be all you need. A nice vacation—short or long—will help you recharge.
Write something else. Put the current manuscript aside and try writing a poem, a short story, or start a new novel. Then go back to the previous manuscript when you’re ready.
Read a book or a magazine. You don’t have to read an entire book, unless you want to. Even reading a few pages could be enough to get you back on track. I’ve done this many times. Whenever I feel stuck, I flip through different books and read a few pages. Reading a beautifully written paragraph or dialogue is sometimes enough to inspire me to write again.
Go back to your old notes. Remember the notes you wrote down on that napkin, or that notebook, or the one you typed up on your phone months ago? This is the time to read them over. There might be something there that could inspire you.
Write. Sometimes the cure to feeling uninspired to write is to simply keep writing. Write anything. That anything could turn into something. It doesn’t have to be good…yet. Just write it. The whole idea is for you to start writing again. You can always edit later.
While going through some of my old books in our back room, I came across a book called, “Writer’s Little Book of Wisdom” by John Long. I have a feeling I bought it years ago, back when I used to only dream of becoming a writer.
After wiping the dust off the book, I decided to flip through it. As I read the first few pages, I wondered if my younger self actually read the book. And then I saw this dog-eared page.
Here are a few writing tips from this little book:
This is one of those books that you can pull out any day and randomly pick a page to read. And that particular page on that particular day could inspire you to write. Or it could simply remind you of what to do, or of what not to do as a writer.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
“Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.”
“All fiction has to have a certain amount of truth in it to be powerful.”
—George R. R. Martin
“Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”
― Stephen King
“So okay―there you are in your room with the shade down and the door shut and the plug pulled out of the base of the telephone. You’ve blown up your TV and committed yourself to a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. Now comes the big question: What are you going to write about? And the equally big answer: Anything you damn well want.”
― Stephen King
5 writing tips from author, James Scott Bell: 1. Write a certain number of words on a regular basis 2. You’ll learn a lot from completing a novel 3. Treat writing as a job 4. Have a weekly quota 5. Take one day off a week to recharge
1. “You write your first draft with your heart, and you rewrite with your head.” ―James Ellison, Finding Forrester: A Novel
2. “You become a great writer by writing lots and lots of stories, not by rewriting the same story over and over again.” ―Scott William Carter
3. “Writing a first draft is like groping one’s way into a dark room, or overhearing a faint conversation, or telling a joke whose punchline you’ve forgotten. As someone said, one writes mainly to rewrite, for rewriting and revising are how one’s mind comes to inhabit the material fully.” ―Ted Solotaroff
4. “Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.” —Joan Didion
5. “The process of rewriting is enjoyable, because you’re not in that existential panic when you don’t have a novel at all.” —Rose Tremain
Last night I started reading “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, a book I’ve read a long time ago but felt like reading again. On the first few pages, I noticed that the word “very” was used quite a few times—sometimes twice in one page. I immediately remembered the quote by Mark Twain:
Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
Very interesting, isn’t it? I guess the lesson here is this: there are many rules when it comes to writing, but every writer can also break some of these rules and even make up their own rules. I think it is what makes each writer unique.