My #1 Tip for Getting Over a Writing Slump
So, life is complicated. Writing slumps are complicated. I could probably write an entire book about slumps and blocks. Why they happen, how to get past them. But, for me, a writing slump usually comes down to one thing: I’m bored.
For whatever reason–because I’ve been following “rules” instead of writing in my own way, because I’ve created an uninteresting plot, because I can’t relate to my characters–I’m no longer interested in my WIP, or even in writing in general. So my biggest tip for getting over a slump?
Step 1: Figure out why you’re bored.
This could take time. Over the years, I’ve personally found that if I’m bored with my writing, I need to ask myself the following questions:
- When was the last time you were interested in writing, or in your WIP? What was different then? Retrace your steps and figure out what’s missing.
- Have you been writing as you think you “should,” rather than as you really want to? If you’re forcing yourself stylistically, plot-wise, or any other way because you think that’s how you’re “supposed to” write, you’re at risk of turning writing into something you dread instead of enjoy.
- Do you need a break? Maybe you’re bored because you’re tired, or you’ve been working on this WIP too hard or too long. You might just need to go do something else fun and come back to it later.
- What made you excited about this project to begin with? Have you gotten too far away from that initial vision?
Here’s an example: I recently found myself in a slump with my WIP Pigtail Girls. For a few days, I was really sad that the story seemed to be going south, and that I wasn’t as excited about working on it as I’d been. Then, I remembered my own advice. After pondering the situation, I realized that I’d gotten bored because I was writing a scene I thought had to be in the story (following “rules”). I didn’t think the scene was cool or interesting at all. I was just doing it out of some misguided sense of obligation or duty. So I thought back to the last scene that I’d actually enjoyed writing, figured out why that scene was more engaging, and rewrote the new scene in a way that better captured my attention.
There’s a lot of buckle-down, Calvinist writing advice out there that would have you believe that writing is Hard Work. It’s a fucking Struggle. You’re Not Always Going to Enjoy It, and if you expect to have fun all the time, you’ll never be a Serious/Published/Professional/Paid Writer.
I call bullshit on that. Here’s why: If you’re bored with your writing, your readers are going to be, too. And even if that’s not true, even readers end up loving something that bored you to death to write, what’s the fucking point? Are you really going to be satisfied with yourself or your writing when you have fans who are in love with something that you aren’t? Like, is that going to be fulfilling? I don’t think so. Which brings me to step two.
Step 2: Take your boredom seriously.
Decide, first and foremost, that you liking and enjoying your writing is a fucking priority. Above and beyond doing it “right.” Above and beyond what other people think. Decide that your relationship with your writing is the most important thing.
I can’t guarantee that this strategy will lead to fame, money, publication, or a wide readership. But it will help you get over a slump, and actually enjoy yourself in the process.
Hope this helps!
The Literary Architect is a writing advice blog run by me, Bucket Siler. For more writing help, check out my Free Resource Library, peruse my Tumblr Post Guide, or get The Complete Guide to Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. xoxo