How to Get Out of a Writing Rut
All writers experience a rut at some point in their writing career. Some ruts are short bouts of writer’s block that might last a few days. And sometimes we hit those giant potholes that turn out to be craters that swallow us for months at a time. So what do we do when this happens?
First off, acknowledge that these things happen to all writers, and they don’t determine your worth as a writer. Beating yourself up about not writing will only make it harder to gain the confidence to start up again. Sometimes the fact that you have hit such a big rut is a sign that you need a break, either emotionally or physically. I recently experienced one of those crater ruts, in fact I’m still battling back to my full writing potential.
In May, my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Understandably, my writing had to take a backseat to this fight we are still going through. I didn’t have the energy to write, either physically or emotionally. What really helped me through this was how willing my sister was to pick up the slack. Most of you may not know this, but WTF aka Amber actually ran our blog by herself for nearly two months. I was able to take the time away that I needed and not feel guilty. Make sure to allow yourself that when you need it.
And when you’re ready to get back to writing, how do you do that? For me it was a combination of two things: having an audience and a persistent story idea.
Find an Audience
One of the things that motivated me to get back to writing was the fact that I had an audience waiting for my stories and posts. I knew that when I was ready my family, friends, and fans would be there to encourage me. It was a sense of accountability to my readers that helped give purpose to my writing. This was in the back of my mind and helped give me a reason to get back to the keyboard.
I encourage you to find some readers, even if it’s scary. Trust me, the joy of a positive comment about your writing will be worth it. You can start a free WordPress blog, like us. You can also post snippets of your writing to social media, or find a writing buddy to swap stories with. If you need help finding readers or writing buddies, you can join Clever & WTF’s Fantasy Nerds, a Facebook group for fantasy writers and readers.
Let the Story Drive You
What gave me the final boost I needed to get out of my writing rut was something all writers experience, that nagging story idea that just won’t go away. It practically begs to be written, even when we don’t feel like it. I like to think that the story knows its time better than we do sometimes. So, make sure to still allow space for your imagination to run wild when you are in your rut.
You can find inspiration in the little things: a music box, an open door, the dark woods. When something strikes you, take the time to ponder it. You don’t have to start writing the story immediately. Maybe jot down a reminder in a notebook or your phone about what stood out to you. Then, allow yourself to continue thinking and building on the idea without any pressure. I think this can bring the joy back to writing, which is sometimes the cause for ruts as well; we allow ourselves to feel too much pressure. Just have fun imagining different stories. You don’t have to write them all, but eventually one will want to be written.
I said that a nagging story idea is what ultimately got me out of my rut, but I didn’t jump back in by writing that entire story. Before that, I actually wrote a paragraph here and there for our other blog posts. Find a way to write something that won’t take up a lot of time or energy, just to get back into your routine. We also have a post on How to Maintain Your Writing Habit, if you need help sticking to your routine.
Always Write Down Ideas
A big thing that helps me get out of a writing rut is to always write down whatever idea pops into my mind. It might be related to a story I’ve already been working on, or even a new idea. Don’t always expect yourself to come up with a completed story right off the bat. For example, I will have an interesting thought that has potential to blossom into something great, and even if it’s just a sentence I’ll write it down on my phone or even a piece of paper so I don’t forget. It helps to keep those ideas alive, and when I revisit it I typically get inspired to write more.
Similar to letting the story drive you, if even a single thought or emotion pops into your head WRITE IT DOWN! For me, I have a specific note saved just for story ideas. These pocket notebooks are also handy for writing down your ideas, and have a convenient pen holder. No matter how erratic or random those ideas may seem, they could be your inspiration to write!
What Do You Think?
How do you get out of a writing rut? Were any of these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments. If you found this post helpful, you can always buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!
Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF