“I will work as hard as I do because I love it.”
– Joan Rivers
Every writer knows the feeling of having so many ideas to put on the page you just can’t scribble or type fast enough. Every writer also knows the feeling of being so busy with the rest of life that the idea of sitting down to write is exhausting. If you’ve been in a writing slump for a while, how do you get back in the zone? Here are some ideas.
Reread your old writing. Look over the last project you were working on; feel free to read as little as the page where you left off to as much as the whole manuscript. Reacquaint yourself with your characters, your story, your style. This might put you back in the zone to finish this project, or it could just serve to remind you of what you are capable of creating—the best writing motivation.
Start with low pressure exercises. Sit down for ten or twenty minutes and journal, write a short poem or a paragraph, or make a list of words you like. Start small and build up. Try to write at the same time every day, and you’ll have a Pavlovian reaction to it. At 1:59 you could be in the middle of a movie, a book, or cleaning the house, but when the clock strikes 2:00, it’s writing time.
Talk about writing with your friends. Whether your crew is made up of book lovers like you or not, talk about your latest project, something you’d like to write, or how excited you used to feel sitting down to write. A few minutes of conversation and you’ll be itching to start writing again.
Set aside a “me” day. Take a vacation day in the middle of the week when everyone else is at work, or make yourself a strict “me” schedule on a weekend. From the time you get up to the time you go to bed, swear off all distractions, like television or outings. Rest and relax if you need to catch up, but devote your day to writing. Spend the morning doing what always gets you personally into the zone—taking a walk outside if the weather is nice, or listening to instrumental music—have lunch, and spend the afternoon writing. Do your prewriting, outlining, notes to self, and then dive right into the story. The morning is about getting into a calm, comfortable mindset, and the afternoon is about charging that positive energy into work. Binge-watching television and movies threatens to put you in a numb state of mind versus a productive one, and getting up early and going right into writing when you’re coming off a period of being too busy, stressed, or tired to write will leave you sputtering.
These are just ideas, of course, and you may have your own tips and tricks about getting back into writing. What do you do when you’re coming off a long period of not writing? How do you get in the zone? Be sure to share in the comments!