Write It Sideways

3 Ways to Get Out of a Writing Slump

Today’s post is written by  Jessica Hill. Thanks, Jessica!

Writing is similar to being on a never-ending roller coaster. We soar up to the highest highs and enjoy the view for a moment before plunging back down to the lows with our stomachs in our throats. There, we hang around while looking ahead for a way to the top of the next hill.

Every writer experiences slumps in their writing, lows typically caused by some form of negativity—negativity that comes from ourselves in the form of doubt or fear, or negativity that comes from others and their seeming lack of faith in us and/or our writing.

The latter, in turn, can cause us to question ourselves, leading to even more negativity. Slumps are inevitable. What we do when we experience these slumps, and have to pull ourselves out of them, is what’s important.

Here are three things you can do:

1. Have multiple projects to work on.

Have multiple projects to work on at any given time. If you’re writing a novel, have a couple of side projects, whether it’s short stories, poetry, or article writing. When you find yourself stuck on one thing, you’ll have something else to walk away to. The best part is, you’re still working.

If you don’t have other things to work on, you’ll probably end up doing something like surfing the Internet or snacking in front of the TV, which is counter-productive. Being able to feel like you’re still accomplishing something will help keep yourself from sinking even deeper into the slump.

2. Get away.

If you find the slump effects more than one project, physically get away from your work. Take a day or two off, go away somewhere for a long weekend. If you can’t do that, at least take an hour or an evening. Walk away and forget about it for as much time as needed or is possible. You’ll come back to your writing refreshed and ready to move forward.

If you’ve talked with someone about your writing who expressed a lack of faith in the project (or in you), get away from him or her. Take time away and when you interact with that person again, tell them how they’ve made you feel and ask them to clarify why they a have a lack of confidence.

Or, simply don’t talk about your writing with them. If they don’t have faith in you or your writing, you don’t need them in your support system.

3. Talk it out.

If you’ve weeded out the naysayers, your support system will consist of people you trust, are close with, and who are enthusiastic about your work. They should be people that you can turn to when you’re in a slump and will do what they can to help you out of it. They’ll talk out plot points and bounce ideas around with you.

Like so many things with writing, a support system is a balancing act. While you need people in your support system who will cheer you on, they also need to be open and honest with you. We’ve all had bad ideas, and often, we can’t see ourselves that they’re bad. We need people there who aren’t afraid to point them out to us.

Writing is About You

In the end, writing is a solitary act and depends on your belief and confidence in yourself. A support system is helpful, but we need to be careful of whom we let into that system.

In addition, while a support system can help pull you out of a slump, you first have to let them help you. At the end of the day, it’s really up to you on how long you hang out in the low spots.

What do you do when you find yourself in a slump? What ways have you found help in digging yourself out of it?

Jessica Hill is a writer of young adult fiction. She lives in rural Ohio and works at her local community college. You can read about Jessica’s writing journey at her blog or join her on Twitter.