If you’re a writer, you’ve been in a writing rut at one point or another. Or, let’s be honest, you’ve probably been in A LOT of writing ruts. I know I have and if you like to be consistent and prolific, a rut can be a huge obstacle.
Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do but accept the fact that you’re just not going to write that day. Most of the time, though, you can get back on track and live a guilt-free rest of your day. Not that you should feel guilty for not writing. I, personally, can’t seem to escape that gnawing sensation of self-doubt and massive guilt whenever I’m at a standstill with my writing, but you shouldn’t. I probably beat myself up way more than actual writing time lol.
But let me set the record straight: self-punishment and self-induced anxiety is a complete and total waste of valuable writing time. This I know. I’m actively trying to stop myself of going down the rabbit hole of guilt mongering every day.
So whenever I get in a rut, here are a few of the things that work for me.
1. Stand up and walk away from the computer.
Seems simple, but for me, my biggest problem is Internet surfing. When I get in a writing rut, my first instinct is to pop on FaceBook and see what’s going on with my friends and family. This inevitably leads to me sitting way too long until the day is over and I’ve done nothing (except scroll through post after post of baby pics and political outrage).
By simply standing up and walking away from my computer, prevents me from spending wasted hours of valuable creating time. What do I do when I walk away you ask? Not chores or errands! Don’t get lost in that procrastination method! No. I walk outside, or a balcony if you have it, or across the living room floor. Doesn’t matter. Just get yourself away from the computer.
Sometimes, this is enough for me, sometimes it’s not even close. When it’s a “not even close” moment, I use one of my many meditation apps I have on my phone. I kid you not, these work! There are seven minute meditations that are geared specifically for motivation. “Take a Break” is a good one, they have a mediation called “Work Break” that’s seven minutes long. It gets me energized and ready to get back into work mode. “ThinkUp” is good also. This is an app where you record your own voice. It seems cheesy, but it actually helps hearing my own voice telling me to stay motivated.
2. Read for an hour.
If I can’t write, then I can at least do something productive. One of the hardest parts of breaking out of any kind of rut, is our tendency to punish ourselves mentally to the point of not doing anything at all. If you can’t write because you are stuck, then reading is a good way to jolt out of your mental brain fart.
For me, it helps if I read a book similar in genre and feel to the one I’m writing. So if I’m working on one of my Teen/Paranormal books, I’ll read something in that genre. It helps me get into that frame of mind and usually inspires me to jump out of my chair and get going again.
3. Get up and exercise.
Nooooooooo!!! It’s okay, you can say it: “Exercising is horrible advice, so I should just shut up now.”
But, I swear, it really does work. I have an elliptical and I’ve come up with some of my best ideas while running on that thing. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise as well and like meditation it can clear your mind to help you focus better on your writing.
You’ll not only feel physically better, but mentally as well. And hey, if you’re not going to write, you might as well do something that improves your life, even if it’s small.
Now, sometimes ruts overtake your day and you end up writing nothing. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Like I said earlier, I do that way too much and I have the tummy problems to prove it, but I’m trying every day to eliminate self-punishment from my life! So when I’m in a rut these three things work wonders for me!
I'm a writer of YA fiction, fiction, comics, television and movies. I try to make all my stories full of jumbly goodness :-)