Pulling Yourself out of a Writing Slump

You’re staring at a blank page, obsessing. You’re a writer, but today, the computer screen is staring at you, blank and taunting. Today the words aren’t flowing. And it’s okay, because we’ve all been there. Writing is hard work, and some days are harder than others. The important thing is that when you’re down, when writing is hardest, you try to make it easier, you try to still get done what you need to get done. Today I’ve created a short list of things you can do to pull yourself out of a creative slump. They aren’t necessarily the first things you’d think of-writing exercises and prompts-though those can be helpful too. These suggestions are about truly getting in touch with your inner self, the deep part of you that does the writing.

Without further ado, let’s begin:

1. Meditate Take a few deep breaths and still your mind. Focus first on your breathing and then on nothing at all. You’d be surprised the strange things your inner mind says to you if you really listen-and if it’s outside stress that’s getting you down, meditation will do wonders for your peace of mind. Don’t just follow this advice when you’re having trouble writing-try to meditate at least once a week. Make it part of your self care routine. You can use incense or candles or whatever helps you meditate. Make sure you keep pen and paper on hand so if you get a great story idea you can write it down right away.

2. Get Outside And I’m not just talking about your backyard. Go for a walk down the street, spend an hour sitting in the nearest park. Write down descriptions of the people you see, the sounds you hear. Focus on the descriptions while you’re there, and when you get home, see if you can find a story in it.

3. Research Research something you’re interested in. If you have something specific to write about, look for information related to your theme, maybe even read a short story or two that have similar ideas. If you don’t, then research whatever catches your interest, whether that be science, history, other cultures, other languages or even the behaviour of zebras during mating season. Keep your mind open to ideas and note interesting facts. Even if you don’t make a full story out of it, you might make part of one, and the information might be useful later. For fantasy writers, I highly suggest researching an unfamiliar mythology.

4. Observe Watch the people around you. Listen to the people around you. Notice what they say, how they act, their odd behaviours. You can write them down, but I find when it’s people I know, I remember these details. Little things that a person says which hint at the deeper issues-comments about their appearance, fishing for compliments, mentioning an ex in passing who’s more important to them than they let on-the kinds of things which let you into a person’s psyche. You can learn a lot about characterization by studying people-and they can give you some weird ideas.

5. Explore Not physically-though I’m sure on your adventures there will be some of that-but mentally. Go to see a musical or a play. Go to see a new movie. Look for interesting events that are new to you-events where you can see and learn new things. Study a new form of dance. Adventure, explore, and live your life without fear; dare to experience things others wouldn’t, and you’re sure to find something to write about.

It’s okay if you don’t write anything one day-but you have to keep living life and looking for inspiration every day. You have to always be thinking about your craft. And you have to do everything in your power to get yourself out of the slump.

How do you get out of your writing slumps?

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About Dianna Gunn

I am a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. My first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now through The Book Smugglers Publishing.

Posted on May 25, 2011, in Inspirational, Novels, Short Fiction, Writing, Writing: The Process and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’ve been having the stare down…my 2nd book in a series…where to start? Like pulling teeth…a couple of false starts. I did most of your list above, one each time I walked away from the computer…they only thing I didn’t do was observe because I never went anywhere to be able to do it.

    Your list does work, as far as working out what is causing the hold-up. In my case, I was attempting to start my book with the wrong character and I also needed more location research.

    Thankfully I’m moving again…it’s my third experience at being stopped before I start – not good when you’re dealing with a deadline.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kay Dee,

    I’m glad you liked this post. I find that I have more difficulty finding time-between school and far too many friends-than I do finding ideas, but I’ve had those days in November, and when you’re a Nano fanatic you’ll do anything to up your word count.

    I think keeping ourselves inspired is really just about keeping in touch with our inner selves and our creativity. I’m glad you’ve got things figured out and that you’re ready to get going again-good luck with your book.

    Thanks for reading,
    ~Dianna

  3. Greetings!

    Blarg. I posted and nothing showed up. Hopefully this one will …

    Remedies for blocks include looking at art, drawing, doing prompt exercises, *having* to go to some obligation that I would prefer not to (always is a way of getting ideas popping in my head), being forced to sit quietly (ie in a church or through a bad powerpoint presentation).

    🙂

    Love this post!

    Cheers!
    RP

  4. RP,

    Well this one got through. If you have problems with other posts do let me know so I can find out if my blog’s having comment problems.

    I love your ideas of having to face obligations or having to sit through a bad powerpoint presentation. I’m lucky that lessons at my school are usually interesting, but I’ve certainly found inspiration in strange places doing strange things before. I find that I get some pretty random ideas on the TTC too.

    Thanks for reading,
    ~Dianna

  5. Great post. Meditating and going outside really do help a great deal. I do it when I’m either overwhelmed with what to write 1st, edit, etc . Nice blog too!

  6. Amber,

    Welcome to Dianna’s Writing Den! I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Meditating is good for the soul on many levels, not just for writing. It helps keep life’s hardships from completely overwhelming you. Meditating regularly helps creativity in a big way.

    Thanks for reading,
    ~Dianna

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