By this time of year, it’s easy to feel burned-out. Your writing resolutions are likely long forgotten, and you’re probably suffering from spring fever. It can seem like you have to work twice as hard to get going. Here are a few ways I battle stagnancy and keep things exciting:
Photo by Ingrid Punwani
Feed your mind. If you have a regular column or writing gig, it’s common to feel that you don’t have anything new to say—or at least a new way to say it. When this happens to me, I delve into reading as much as I can. I look to books, magazines and online sites that inspire me. This feeds my muse and gets me thinking of better, smarter words and ideas.
Change your surroundings. Working at home can be joyous, but it can start to feel like you never leave. This can sometimes creep into your writing. I love my desk, but when I get stuck creatively, I move away from my usual surroundings to somewhere, anywhere else. Even taking my laptop out to the living room and working on the couch or in the kitchen at the breakfast bar helps more than you can imagine. Going farther afield to a coffee shop or library aids inspiration even more.Leave it behind. Sometimes when I’m working on something I’ll try to force it, long after the well has run dry. Learn from my mistake and untether yourself from your work. You’re not slacking off; you’re simply allowing room for new ideas to reside and flourish. I usually find that even just an hour of walking to the library and back is enough to take my mind off the work I’m stuck on. When I people watch and lose myself in the city’s sights and sounds, I can distract myself. And often when I become absorbed in something fun, I come up with the suitable ending I was searching for, or I figure out that I simply need to reorder my piece for it to work.
Splash in the water. Taking a shower and changing clothes also takes you out of your current state. As I’m sure you’ve experienced before, ideas start to rush out of you just as you start to relax. So if you’re struggling with how to finish that article or what to exclude in your book proposal, jump into a bath or shower. It will instantly reinvigorate you—and your thoughts.Join other writers. Do something within the industry besides sitting at your desk writing. A friend and I find that teaching writing quickly reminds us of helpful techniques that may have fallen by the wayside. It’s important to take your own advice when you’re stuck. I also like going to different talks and events. Fellow writers know how tricky this profession can be, and sometimes all you need is a little empathy to feel better.
Sometimes it just takes a little while and trying a few different things to get unstuck. Yeah, it’s not easy or streamlined, but you are not alone. And you will get unstuck. I promise.