No point dancing around it: even dream jobs have their bad days.
If you’re a writer struggling to see through your next book, then this post’s for you. So grab a drink and take five minutes, and know that you’re not alone.
Sometimes writing a book can feel like moving a mountain, one aching rock at a time. When you’re throwing every creative thought in your head at your manuscript, and searching non-stop through everyday life for ideas to pack into your story – and you can’t switch it off, and you know you can do better than this, and you’re starting to wonder if you’re even truly cut out for this whole writing business – then yep. It will wear you out.
If you’re writing more than one book at once, it’ll compound the effect too.
I don’t subscribe to the idea of writer’s block. But I do believe that writers, like anyone in any job, can get worn down and burned out. It’s not an issue of inspiration, but of energy and willpower. Like your car’s fuel tank running dry.
What I’m really trying to say is this: that wherever our creative flow comes from, it can suddenly get shut off. We’ve all been there – but there are ways and means to work around it.
The first thing you can do is stop, and take a step back. Regain some perspective. Remind yourself that you’ve been in your creative flow before now, and you will get there again. This isn’t an issue of your creative talent, or your passion to write. You’re simply running on empty. And wait… when was the last time you took any days off? Like, at all? Visit new places. Experience new things. You can’t create anything out of a bored same-old mind.
Second: top up the tank. Could you drive a hundred-mile stretch on an empty fuel tank? Not really. You could want to; of course you could. You could will your broken-down car to stop being empty of fuel, and just carry on right along. Wish as you may, it won’t change the laws of physics. You simply won’t get creative energy out of your head without first putting it in. What new movies have you seen lately? When was the last time you stopped being a writer, and enjoyed being a reader instead? If in doubt, read a book. Even those bestselling authors only have the same old words to work with, like you. So read them.
Third: punch back. If you’re rested and reading again, and full of other writers’ ideas, then the worst thing you can do is leave your work-in-progress untouched. The sooner you get back to fighting that word monster, the better. A favourite trick of mine is to forget about the book as a whole, and zero in on a certain paragraph that I really want to put on creative steroids. I’ll bring up YouTube and play a certain song or a movie theme, over and over if necessary, until I’ve just stopped thinking about writing, and I’m writing. (Click here to hear a particular favourite of mine.) Instead of trying so hard, just pick the music that puts some real feeling in you. When that happens, the words will come pouring out on the page – from somewhere deeper. Instead of writing from your critical “top thoughts”, get to feel what you’re trying to say. Dig down into that, rewrite that paragraph over and over if you have to, and you’ll find your passion that started this book in the first place.
Well, I hope this helped ya. There are tons of ways to motivate yourself to keep on writing that book, but this is a favourite process of mine. It gives me the musical feelgoods, and I like having the musical feelgoods when I’m writing.
Got your own tips to break that motivational wall? Let your fellow writers know in the comments below.
Or, if you’d like to know more about the books I write and self-publish, just click here to find them in the Kindle store.