Joyce Carol Oates once said:
Perhaps this is why Oates is such a prolific writer. I wish I had her fortitude because I agree with her. Writing heals me in the same way music does. And nature. And yet, even the things we love most in life can become chores to us from time to time.
So it has been with me the past couple of days. I have been ill and unable to sleep well. Twice I've sat staring at the blinking cursor, unable to screw up enough energy to write anything worthwhile. It comes at such an odd time, too - when I'm so near the climax of my current work-in-progress.
I thought I'd compile a short list of the things that help me get up the motivation to write when it fails to come naturally. Everyone is different, so some of these may seem horrible to you, but this is what works for me.
1. Change up the scenery:
A lot of writers believe in having a designated workspace conducive to writing. I don’t disagree and have a desk kept (fairly) organized and set up for writing away from the bustle of my household. However, if I’m in a rut – I get out of it! I find changing up my surroundings can help me to get creative again.
So take your laptop or a notebook and pen and hit a new location. For me it could be the couch, the floor of my kid's room, the stairs by the window where the light comes in just so. Or maybe a café, the library, or a park somewhere.
2. Write something different:
I sometimes take a day or two away from the work that’s causing me grief to write something new – a poem, a flash fiction piece, or maybe some outlining or research for another novel.
After a short break, you might come back pumped to crank out the rest of the piece you left.
3. Chart progress:
I’ve done Nanowrimo three times and during those months I discovered something about myself. While some find it useful to have a word count goal they’d like to reach in a day, I just enjoy charting my progress. My favorite feature on the Nano site is the bar graph that climbs steadily, showing how your book is growing every day.
So creating a graph of your own might help you see that “pennies make dollars.” Even if you only write thirty words in a day your word count is growing.
My simple method of the moment is logging my manuscript’s word count on a dry-erase calendar at the end of every day. I may only have gotten in a couple hundred words, but I’ve put in 60,000 + toward the finished product. And that basically rocks!
Writers need to be readers. And readers tend to turn to this favored pastime anytime their lives require solace. So don’t forget that avenue when you’re lacking motivation. Read a new genre or a new author. Whether the book is terrible or inspiring, you’re bound to remember why you got into this line of work in the first place.
Better yet, REREAD a favorite work. What do you love about it? Is that something you’re wanting to see in your own work? That thought alone has occasionally gotten my fingers clacking across the keyboard.
5. Find a buddy:
Everybody goes through this. And everybody has a method of pressing onward. So go find your people! Type “writer forums” into your search engine and find your place. Do a search on Facebook for groups for writers.
I’ve found great communities on Facebook. In fact, I spend most of my social media time in them these days, avoiding the political posts on my personal feed. (Bleck!)
Or, if you’re in a more populated area you might have luck with Meetup.com. Not much in my current neck of the woods, though. I’m lucky to have some writer friends I met in the real world and even though we live in different states now, I know they are just a phone call or an IM away. (You know who you are and I hope you know I’m here for you, too!)
I’m not a “force it” kind of gal. I understand the value of having a set schedule for your writing, but breaking routine is valuable, too.
Maybe some of these methods will help you find your motivation during a dry spell. If you’re feeling the “go” but don’t have the ideas to tell you “where,” click here for my post
5 Tips for Finding (and Keeping) Inspiration.