Guest Post: How to Feel Like Writing Again

We’ve all felt it at one time or another. The story loses its shine and you’re left with a half-completed story. Why does this happen, and how do you continue?

For a lot of writers, this is the mid-point of the story, but truly, it can happen at any point. I want to focus on something entirely different from “writer’s block”; this topic regards when you know what to write next, but you just don’t feel like doing so.

“Of course, motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” – Zig Ziglar

The cursor blinks at you, nudging you to continue typing, but the combination of your eyes drooping and the itch to do something else feels overwhelming. You’ve already procrastinated enough today. Your bedroom can only be cleaned so many times, and you’ve already checked Facebook, Twitter, and your email twice in the past half-hour.

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”

You’re a writer. You know how to get the job done; it’s the motivation that’s lagging. Let’s look at some different factors.

Your story no longer excites you

For me, this usually happens just on the other side of the midpoint, roughly 55% into the book. About then, I usually start envying short story writers. It’s when the thrill of the beginning and even the spike of the midpoint event wears off, and I have to begin laying the ground work for the finale, but it’s not yet to the exciting build-up for the ending climax.

Wherever it normally happens for you (and it could change from story to story), it can be a trial. Why does it happen? Here are a few possibilities:

  • You’ve already thought of the next story, and you’re more interested in starting the new one than finishing the current one
  • You hit a plot snag and aren’t looking forward to unraveling it
  • You realize that your story idea might not be as interesting as you thought it was
  • Self-doubt creeps in
  • Life got in the way of writing, and you’re not as emotionally connected
  • Something as simple as: it’s just not new and shiny anymore

The first one gets me every time.

To remedy many of the above, you could take a short break from writing to read your story from the beginning as if it was a finished product. Oftentimes, that brings about the romance for writing this particular piece again.

Whenever I daydream about the next project, I jot down all my ideas onto a pad of paper, but I promise myself not to start writing it until the current project is finished. That way, I have a treasure trove of tidbits to work on by the time I do transition.

Also, take a look at your writing schedule. If you wait until you have 4+ hours to write, try writing more often but in smaller chunks. It could be your method of attack that’s holding you back.

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

Mainly for me, I had to come to grips with the concept that at some point in the book, it would be a chore to continue. Perhaps other authors aren’t this way, but that’s how I operate. I had to wean myself from the mysticism that I have to be in constant love with a story to write it. 100% of the time, when I go back to polish what I had to prod myself to finish, the magic is there again.

Whether you reluctantly write and later polish with passion, or you passionately write and later reluctantly polish, in the end, the reader can’t tell the difference. Either way, a quality product is completed. But if you wait for passion to do anything, the project will likely get done much, much later.

“What I adore is supreme professionalism. I’m bored by writers who can write only when it’s raining.” -Noel Coward

Just plain don’t feel like it

To me, this is another thing altogether. This could be due to some of the reasons above, but largely affected by mood, hunger, emotional state-of-mind, how restful I am, etc. Here are some things that I do to warm-up to writing when I don’t feel like it. In advance, don’t judge me.

  • I go into a different room (dependent on a portable writing apparatus). I read a study once that changing rooms resets the mind, but for whatever reason, it seems to help.
  • Reading some of what I wrote the day before to get me in the mood. This usually does the trick, for me.
  • I listen to music. In my Writer’s Toolbox, there are two of my favorite picks of music to listen to while I write.
  • I have a small spray bottle of water, and I occasionally spray myself in the face. This is used when I am tempted to curl over my laptop and take a nap. This is the “don’t judge me part,” if you were wondering. So, yes, my method for staying awake is the same as the punishment for your cat for eating the houseplant.

Similar to what I mentioned in the last section, usually when I don’t feel like writing, I do it anyway. There are a few times that I succumb, but I usually remind myself that people can’t tell their boss that they don’t feel like working, which is something Janci Patterson also mentioned in my interview with her.

 

Conclusion
Everyone has a different method. All these suggestions might work for you, or perhaps none of them will. The key is to experiment with what motivates you to write, so that you can get one step closer to your writerly goals.

Ryan Lanz

A Writer’s Path

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Guest Post: I’m going to slit my wrists if you don’t publish me…

… Well not really. Hmm, scratch that, I’m only kinda telling the truth.

The fact is I have had my moments, you know the type, the devastating (albeit occasionally histrionic) outbursts of “it’s not fair! Why me? What have I ever done to anyone? Who was I in a past life? Hitler!” Okay, so maybe that last one is just me. However, I have spoken to enough writers to know that emotions of desolate desperation at never being read (at least by enough people) or known are ones that attack many of us at some point in our turbulent creative journeys.

I have been writing from a very young age, seriously trying to get some sort of recognition for the past seven years or so (on an off and on basis in all honesty) and have given up on my attempts at many intervals during my writing “career”.

The countless knockbacks classily framed in those “sincere” rejection letters that have so obviously been meticulously crafted for me personally [come on publishing/literary agents, at least change the font and colour when you cut (and may I add creatively misspell) and paste my name assuring me there is someone out there with whom my story is going to click eventually, I just need to find that needle in the haystack] were enough for me on an individual basis to throw in the towel once and for all.

I would just stop, there would be no calm before the storm or voodoo inspired smoke signs before the eventual demise of my pen (or keyboard), I would seriously just get up one morning and that would be it. No more writing, no more creation, nothing. Nada. Blank space full stop.

When I look back on those times when my imagination would be firmly tucked away in the abyss that occupied the supposed artistic section of my cranium, I wonder if I was truly fine not writing. I have been innovating places, people, stories, worlds, everything and anything really that my brain can possibly conjure up for so long now, I don’t really know how not to do it.

It was only when my extremely insightful father asked me one day, “Why do you write?” that I truly reflected on the reason.

“Why do I write?” I asked myself aloud one day. I mean before all the drama and the hypocritically enamoured materialism set in, why was I writing at six? It wasn’t for the publishers. God knows I never really wrote anything to be read, I just wrote because I had to, because it made me happy, because it kept me sane and safe in a world I still, till this day, often struggle to comprehend.

Screw the publishers, I thought. Kick the literary agents to the kerb, I mentally screamed. I will write because I don’t know how not to. Not for the money, or the elusive and often fallible “fame” associated with compiling a bestseller, but solely because I can’t not write.

When I would open up the dam I had forcefully deployed to block all the creativity within me and commence on my imperfect path to writing heaven, my mind would seriously punish me by not allowing me to sleep for weeks, often months. It was like opening up a realm of wonder, full of untapped imagination that was just waiting impatiently to pounce, rip apart any sort of entrapping realism I was attempting to band aid on.

The reality is it is much more torturous for me not to write than it is to. Sure, the chances of being read by anyone really is meagrely slim, but those few and far between who do, make me so much more grateful. Who knows if I’ll ever be “famous”, but accepting my fate as a writer (successful or not) makes me that much more content to do what I don’t just love to do, but in unbridled reality, have to do.

Last time I checked, breathing isn’t an option, it’s survival and I don’t need the act to be recorded on television or anything. Similarly, writing for me is living.

So, what does writing mean to you? Truly?

MP Sharma