Three Ways To Motivate Yourself Out Of A Writing Slump
We’ve all been there. The days, weeks, and months crawl (or fly!) by but you’re unable to put pen to paper—or fingers to keys. Your book(s) languish away, calling softly for you to return. Even if you want to, you just don’t have the energy.
I get it. And you’re no less of a writer for feeling that way.
Recently, I pulled myself out of a pretty deep writing slump. A year and a half slump, actually. I’d taken a few hard hits on my last round of querying and made excuse after excuse to myself that “I just needed a break.”
Breaks are great. I encourage all writers to take them. But you have to know when a break for preserving inspiration turns to procrastinating so you won’t fail.
Since my slump, I’ve learned three pretty useful ways to pull myself out of that hole—should I find myself in it again.
1. Talk to people who share your dream
For me, it was my husband and my best friend. For others, it may be a writing group, either in-person or virtual.
One day, my husband directly asked me, “Why did you stop writing? Are you giving up on that dream?”
Oof. That was the moment a flip switched in my brain. I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing. While I watched yet another Netflix Original or played phone games on the couch until 1 a.m., I wasn’t aware of my dream slowing slipping away. I didn’t realize that every moment I wasted with things that didn’t bring me joy also wasted the time I could have dedicated to writing and honing my craft.
Talking with my best friend, who is also a writer, began to motivate me. Hearing her ideas about her stories made me excited about my own and propelled me to restart.
2. Get feedback on your work
After 30+ rejections on a book I was really proud of, I saw myself as a complete failure. I’m a person who ties my personal worth to my accomplishments, so it was a pretty painful blow. My brain told me, “As long as we don’t write, we won’t fail anymore!”
You know that uber-famous Wayne Gretzky quote? “You’ll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take”? I forgot about that one. My husband cited all the authors who failed dozens or hundreds of times, but all I could focus on were the 30-odd emails in my inbox saying I wasn’t good enough.
The thing that pulled me out of that spiral was feedback from a good friend on my story. For the first time in a long time, I could see the good in my story again. It gave me the confidence I needed to restart revisions and reignite my passion.
My husband is in his fourth year of medical school and training to becoming a psychiatrist—so you can imagine we have a fair number of conversations about how our thought processes affect our actions.
He’s helped me learn how to self-reflect a lot over the last year, and what I’ve learned isn’t something I could hear and accept from anyone else.
- I chose to stop writing.
- I am not a failure as a person, or a writer, because I don’t have an agent yet.
- The jealousy I feel for other writers online comes from my own insecurities of not reaching my goals.
- I can and will succeed as long as I keep trying.
Who knew that giving consistent effort to something you care about will result in something great?
At this point, I’m just a few chapters into revisions—but I have a renewed sense of purpose, passion, and excitement for the book. In a way, my slump was like a hard reset; it helped me gain distance and see the ways I could improve. But being away from my characters, and my dream, for that long isn’t something I want to do again.
If you’re feeling at the bottom of your barrel and need someone to help pull you out, head on over to Instagram and shoot me a DM at @iamgirlofwords. I’ve been there and would love to help!