Take a look at the last post on my blog, and you may notice something. The date it was published- June 16th. It’s been over two months since I’ve posted. To be honest it’s been months since I’ve written much of anything.
I’ve had plenty of time, too. Enough time to knock out three or four posts. The problem is I haven’t wanted to write. I can’t seem to find motivation. And the problem with motivation is the longer you go without it, the harder it is to find.
It can be a real tailspin.
But, I’ve decided to grab the yoke and try to pull myself out of this downward spiral. To right the ship and soar with eagles!
That was dumb, but it felt good saying it.
Like any writer who has lost focus, I asked myself: how do I buckle down and get some work done? The bad news: I don’t have the panacea for writer’s block. And personally, I hate advice like- JUST SIT DOWN AND DO THE WORK!
Easier said than done.
So, how do we tackle a lack of inspiration?
First, let me say this- Writer’s block is a common problem. We all get stuck sometimes. But, you already know that, right? So, let me get to my second point.
DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP!
There are times in life when you’re just not going to be productive. Maybe you’re stressed, or worn out, or sick, or mourning. Point is, it happens to the best of us. So please, be kind to yourself. It’s okay to fall behind as long as you can get back on track. But…
How do I start writing again?
Start by doing some introspection. Ask yourself:
Why did I lose my motivation?
The answer might be simple. Take time management, for instance. Going to bed thirty minutes later- or better yet waking up an hour earlier- might carve out enough quiet time to get some work done. But, maybe it’s more serious. A lack of drive can be a sign of deeper issues ranging from depression to a physical illness. In that case, see a doctor. Put your health first.
Once you’ve figured out why you’ve had trouble writing it’s time to take small steps to get back to work. When I say small, I mean small. If it’s been six months since you last put pen to paper, don’t try banging out 5,000 words in a day. You think you’re making up for lost time, but really you’re setting yourself up for burn out.
Here are a few steps you can take to start writing again.
Start with achievable goals
Success breeds success. Start small and you’re almost guaranteed to achieve. And when you get that rush that comes from finishing a task you’ll be more likely to do it again. That’s how you hack the reward center of your brain (Maybe. Idk. I’m not a doctor). So, give yourself a small word count. Maybe 100 or 200 words a day. Write those 200 words. If you feel like writing more then go ahead. If 200 words were absolute torture then close your laptop, and pat yourself on the back.
Don’t get bogged down by details
To start writing on a regular basis, you’re going to need to build the habit. That means daily writing. That could mean finishing a short story, or novel, or screenplay, but it doesn’t have to. Sometimes, all those pesky plot details or character motivations can be damn frustrating. Don’t start with the hard stuff. Spend a week with your journal. Get your thoughts, and feelings, down on paper. Build up your resistance. Then move onto the hard stuff.
Find motivation from other authors
If you’re like me you, don’t have much time to read for pleasure. Most of my reading is related to my job. Which is… not so fun. But you have to make time for your passion. My love of story came from fun stuff like Stephen King novels, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and countless other novels, comic books, movies, and shows.
These texts may not teach you how to properly structure a scene, but they’ll remind you why you started writing in the first place. Pick up your favorite book, or find a movie on Netflix. When you’re finished watching or reading, you’ll find yourself inspired and ready to work!
Find a buddy
Writing can be a lonely job. Hours of sitting in an empty room with only the hum of your hard drive to keep you company. At times, it’s downright depressing. Why not find communion with your fellow writers? Find a local writers’ group and drop in on a meeting. Or, join an online community and share your latest work. Or, try writing with a partner. After all, why should you do all the work? Sharing your work will also help you grow as a writer.
Make a deadline
Sometimes a lack of motivation comes from a lack of consequence. A lot of us hate our job, but we go because, you know, we gotta eat. We’d never skip a week of work.
But, how often do we skip a week of writing? If you’re not a pro, you might skip a week… or a month. But, believe me, there are consequences when you skip out on writing, they’re just not immediate.
Give yourself a deadline. Share it with someone you love. Stick to it like you’re a professional being paid. Create an actual consequence for not achieving your deadline. Or, treat yourself to a reward when you come in under schedule.
This is the Age of Distraction. I mean, the internet exists, right? Don’t compare yourself to writers of old. They didn’t have anything to do but write… and drink. But you and I, we have a frenzied universe of gifs, memes, and viral bull shit to contend with.
If you plan on writing, get rid of that phone and sequester yourself in a deep, dark hole with no wifi. If you can’t go more than ten minutes without minimizing Word and opening a tab on Chrome then put away your computer, grab a pen and paper, and do things the old-fashioned way. Do whatever it takes to get your writing done!
Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is a book I read about twice a year, and so should you! Especially if you’re having a serious bout of writer’s block. Pressfield talks about creative resistance, what causes it and how to beat it. We all face resistance, even when comes to the things we really, really want to accomplish. This book is worth it’s weight in gold, and if you purchase it using the link above, I’ll get a small commission. You’ll be helping the blog, and kicking your resistance. It’s a win-win!
Here’s a few more articles on Writer’s Block:
Okay, so you read this whole article about writers’ block.
Seriously, get the hell out of here.