Thursday, May 29, 2014

How I Got Out of a Writing Slump

Well, friends, it's tough to admit, but I've been in a writing slump for a while now.  And by slump I mean, I just can't wrap my brain around the craft I've studied for years.  I'm like an octopus, reaching for something I know is there in as many ways as I can, but unable to grasp anything.

I've been working to get out of this slump, trying everything I can to force myself to sit down and write. Usually writing is a stress reliever for me, but lately I've been under so much stress that my mind felt melted, frozen, unable to string any words into an intelligible sentence.  I've never faced anything like it before.

So, now that I'm coming out of said slump, I thought I'd share the three things that really helped me.

One.  Don't sit at the computer.  Print out your manuscript and work on it, or just write it out on a piece of paper. Somehow just being at the computer was overwhelming so when I just used my trusty paper and pen, in the sunshine, or sitting in the car, or anywhere but at my desk, it helped.

Two.  Do writing sprints with people, but don't put pressure on yourself.  I was just typing out mostly dialogue, but it got the story flowing in my veins again and put some words on the page that I could work with.

Three.  Walk.  Taking a walk worked out some of my stress and let my mind wander over my characters and story. It was cathartic and got my creativity going again.

Being in a writing slump has been hard and has taught me some lessons about myself and my writing.  I've learned that emotional stress stunts my writing like no other. I've learned that forcing myself to sit at the computer didn't help at all.  Neither did watching a JAG marathon or eating a bag of pretzels while I struggled to get something on the page.  Complaining didn't help and hoping it would go away didn't help either.  Just the simple steps above calmed me and allowed the writing to flow again. Whew!

I'm just so glad my slumpiness is going away.  I've missed the invigoration I feel when a story is coming together.  I feel like raising my arms in triumph and saying, "I'm baaaaack!"

So tell me, how do you get out of a writing slump?


Debra Erfert said...

Yay!! I'm so glad you're back and out of the slump I didn't know you were in. You kept it a good secret. Taking walks if good to work out scenes, but you need to have a nice place to walk, and not someplace you'd get heatstroke. It got up to a hundred here yesterday. I don't' do well in heat.

Jon Spell said...

Congrats, Julie! When I get out of my writing slump (close to a year now?) I'll let you know!