Don't feel like writing? We've all been there.
I mean, it IS NaNoWriMo, after all, and even though I don’t participate, I went all out a couple of times. Therefore, I know there are days when getting your 1,607 or whatever word count feels like getting on the treadmill when your body can barely move.
Whether you're a seasoned writer or just starting out, there are times when the motivation to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) isn’t there. However, one thing I’ve experienced (and that you probably have, too) is that once you get started, it’s all downhill from there.
You start to experience some momentum, and before you know it, you begin to actually like writing again.
But how do you get there when sometimes banging your head against a brick wall seems like a better idea? Fear not, friends. There are several simple ways to get back in the writing groove so you can finish your project or even just your NaNoWriMo word count for the day. In this post, we'll discuss what to do if you don't feel like writing and share some tips to help you find your writing mojo.
(Note: the Mojo Dojo Casa House is optional).
Understanding Your Writing Roadblocks
Every writer encounters roadblocks along their creative journey. They can take many forms, from a lack of inspiration to a fear of failure. Understanding what is holding you back is the first step to overcoming these obstacles and reigniting your writing passion.
One common writing roadblock is, of course, the dreaded writer's block. This occurs when you feel stuck and unable to generate new ideas or find the right words. Writer's block can be frustrating and discouraging, but it is important to remember that it is a temporary setback with a root cause. Whether it be stress, perfectionism, or a lack of knowledge, finding these weak points can help you find ways to overcome them.
For example, one of these weak points is self-doubt. It's easy to feel insecure about our writing abilities, especially when comparing ourselves to others. This lack of confidence can prevent us from putting our ideas into words. Remember, every writer has their own unique voice and perspective. Embrace your individuality and trust in your skills.
Getting other people involved can help you do this. Surround yourself with supportive writing communities and seek constructive feedback to build your confidence.
There’s also technology. Who among us has never stopped mid-paragraph and said, “I’ll just play a quick round of Candy Crush/check my Instagram/make a quick TikTok video of me writing/insert your favorite phone distraction. With the constant allure of social media and other forms of entertainment, staying focused and dedicated to your writing can be difficult. I always put my phone on deep Do Not Disturb. No notifications. No calls. Nothing. My phone sits silent in another room of the house until I’ve met my goals for the day.
Transforming Creative Block into Creative Fuel
We've all experienced that frustrating feeling when you sit down to write and the ideas won't flow. It's like hitting that proverbial brick wall we mentioned earlier. But instead of getting discouraged, it's important to see this as an opportunity to transform that creative block into creative fuel.
How can you do that? Here are a few strategies to help you turn your writing slump around.
1. Embrace the Pause: Sometimes, a creative block is a sign that your brain needs a break. Instead of forcing yourself to write, take a step back and permit yourself to rest. Engage in activities that inspire you, like exercising, watching a movie, or exploring new hobbies. Often, stepping away from writing can help you gain fresh perspectives and recharge your creative energy.
2. Explore New Genres or Styles: One way to reignite creativity is to venture outside your comfort zone. If you're stuck on a particular project, try writing in a different genre or experimenting with a new style. This can stimulate your imagination and open up new avenues for exploration.
My favorite example of this is the movie Barton Fink. The Coen Brothers, famous for films like Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, were working on the script for their next project, Miller’s Crossing, when they experienced major writing roadblocks. Stuck on building the storyline for the movie, they did something radical.
They decided to hit pause on Miller’s Crossing and make another movie . . . about a guy dealing with writer’s block.
Don't be afraid to take risks and try something different—you might discover a new writing passion.
3. Take a Break and Read: Sometimes, a little inspiration from other writers can be enough to solve the problem. Dive into books, articles, or blogs that resonate with you and pay attention to what makes them powerful. Analyze their writing techniques, storytelling devices, or unique perspectives. By immersing yourself in the work of others, you can gain fresh insights and inspiration for your writing.
4. Freewrite or Journal: If you're feeling stuck, freewriting or journaling can effectively break through your creative block. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and let your thoughts flow without judgment or self-censorship. Don't worry about grammar, structure, or coherence—write whatever comes to mind. This process can help you bypass your inner critic and tap into your subconscious mind, where new ideas and connections can emerge.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Write in Order
Flannery O’Connor famously said, “All stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but not necessarily in that order.” While she’s talking about the structure of a completed story, these words can also be seen as advice for the writing process.
The writing process doesn’t have to be linear. If you’re struggling with one part of the story, you can always hit pause and jump to another scene that you are more excited to write. Working on a part of the piece that inspires you might solve your story problem in that other scene and give you ideas for when you go back to work on it.
This can be a hard principle to embrace for people like me who tend to fall back on a rigid, linear mindset. However, there is nothing to lose in changing up your process. Show yourself grace as you try new things and recognize that your process does not always have to stay the same.
Cultivating Confidence in Your Writing Abilities
Developing confidence in your writing abilities is crucial for any aspiring writer. It can be daunting to put your thoughts and ideas out into the world, but with the right mindset and strategies, you can cultivate the confidence you need to excel in your writing journey.
One effective way to boost your confidence is to practice regularly. Writing is like any other artistic skill. Just as a musician will improve their technique by repeatedly practicing, the more you write, the more you will improve and become comfortable with your writing style. Don’t think too hard about it—some musicians focus on scales or repeated movement when practicing, yet these simple exercises are essential for improving their abilities. This consistent practice will help you build momentum and gain confidence in your skills.
Another tip is to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem. You’re your NaNoWriMo word count? Go get a latte. Finish that chapter that’s been bugging you? Take a time out to play video games. Acknowledge your progress and achievements along the way, whether it's completing a story, receiving positive feedback, or even just finishing a sentence that you struggled with. Being able to recognize something challenging that you did and appreciating your accomplishments will reinforce your belief in yourself as a writer.
Need Help with the Writing Process?
I want to make sure that writers reach their full creative potential so they can impact and inspire readers. That’s why I make myself available for consultations on Zoom.
Schedule a free 30-minute conversation with me to discuss your story problems, questions about the writing process, and more.
Grab some time on my calendar here. Talk to you soon!