I just got over a writing slump. I’m glad. I thought that was going to last forever.
Writing slumps are different from writer’s block. When you have writer’s block, you usually want to write, but can’t find the words. Or you can’t decide what step to take next with your characters. When you are in a writing slump, you just don’t want to write. You feel like blowing off the entire thing to go read or watch White Collar or a movie. Writing slumps are deadly to a writer’s motivation.
How did I get out of the writing slump? Well, I just waited it out. That is the worst way to get out of a slump, but it’s the only way I could figure out. I just kept trying to work through it, like writing this blog every day, even when I didn’t want to. And I read books and watched Netflix. But I also edited. Eventually, as many writers who have known the great pleasure of writing stories, I got bored of reading them. And TV just draws out everything for so long… I missed writing. Like, really writing. Hard-core writing. So I came back.
But if you ever find yourself in a slump, hooked on TV or better, books, good luck. I’m going to give you a few tips on how to avoid the slumps… you might need them. Even I felt like clicking “next episode” instead of looking into the internal motivations of my characters. And me… I’m obsessed. So if my will to write can be challenged like that, I can’t imagine what some other people are doing. I would say giving up is the biggest threat of the slumps, so just remember not to do that…
First, don’t let yourself slow down after draft one. I did it after the first draft of my first book, and then you can guess what happened. I did it after the first draft of this book, and then I’m stuck in a slump. Looking for Lily wasn’t long enough to throw me into a slump, but I was really excited about the whole publishing-thing, so I don’t even know if a slump could have happened at that time, anyway. Don’t slow down, even if you are giving yourself a few days to breathe before moving into the next draft.
Editing is not as appealing as writing. Writing is exciting and fun, whereas editing is tearing apart what you already have. It’s not as fun, so looking ahead at that from just writing the first draft is… not very encouraging. So you need to make yourself edit. Otherwise it won’t get done. Just keep the end goal in mind.
My next tip is to not tempt yourself. You see, there are a lot of hooks out there in the world. Yes, the world is an ocean full of fishing hooks. It’s the like the first sentence of your story. It’s competing with everything else out there to get your attention and reel you in. Anything from movie trailers to pilot episodes to ads and commercials. All of these things are competing with not just each other, but also with your book for your attention. Don’t walk into those traps.
Don’t think, “Oh, I’ll just read the first page,” or “Oh, I’ll just watch the first five minutes”. Those are famous last words. They are dangerous. Five minutes or the first page turns into ten seasons of Friends or seven books of Harry Potter. We are writers, which means we major in stories. And that means that we see a story and just go nuts. Don’t fall for other stories until you are done with your own.
If you are really hard core, you can ban yourself from those temptations when working on the story. I didn’t watch TV from October 15th to December 28th in order to make the most of NaNoWriMo. When I was talking to other Wrimos back in November, they all thought I was crazy. Crazy, yes. But I met my word count goal, didn’t I?
I mean, if you are really, really hard core I suppose you can just lock yourself in a small dark room with a wall charger and a laptop for a few months. But that’s a last resort. (Please don’t do that. I am not encouraging that. It’s unhealthy.)
Now that we are on that topic, let me approach my next tip. It’s the one that I always give to you, the one that I’ve probably written about too many times already. But it works, so don’t ignore this.
Write every day. It keeps you inspired. Write even when you don’t feel like it. Every single day. It keeps your creative mind at work. It keeps your fingers typing and the habit soon becomes something you have in your regular routine. That will keep you writing, even when you aren’t in the middle of a project. It can help you to get more comfortable with your own writing style and characters and story.
Last tip: don’t let writing be your entire life. I know, I know. It’s a hard tip to follow. But if writing is your whole life, not only are you not getting the life experience you need to write realistically, but you are also more unstable. Depriving yourself of reality may sound like a good thing at first, but you are also more likely to fall off the wagon, so to speak.
You might discover something awesome in that reality place and push your writing aside for it. Say you find that you like cooking more than you thought, and suddenly your book is in the backseat while you take a month long detour to food land. We don’t want that. Balance it out. Write every day, but don’t let it be your life. Everything in moderation, even the bad things like TV and books (These are bad distractions for writing books, good distractions for the soul).
Good luck. If I were you, I would try taking these preventative measures… Writing slumps can be fatal if you don’t have the motivation to work through them. I know I’m sticking to these rules for a while.
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Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!