Welcome to the holiday season! For some people it really is the most wonderful time of the year. But if you’re feeling how I feel right now then it’s a different story. You feel frustrated with the world and are in desperate need of a nap. And what’s the worst part of it? You’re probably starting to lack in the writing department in your life. Seriously, it feels as if some big storm cloud came in and screamed “BEGONE WRITERS” but to that we must scream back “BUG OFF”. We are artists and we must overcome the challenges of the dreaded writer’s block. Pulling together my years of writing into this article, here’s my advice on how to keep writing through that great rain cloud.
Although that feels like an obvious one, I think what people forget is that writing isn’t limited to breath-taking stories and phenomenal poetry. If you write a few words for your own personal gain, you wrote for the day. What I do as a (even as a self proclaimed fiction writer) is just try to write a few Zuihitsus (list poem) just to take the edge off and to just get something out of my head. Another thing I also recommend is writing a few clever sentences or lists that you can look back on later and use for inspiration. It might feel a little bit more comfortable and do-able. That’s what I usually do; however, you’ll want to find something that works for you. Keep a journal, think of the most edgy quotes you can. Write a joke piece. Maybe you don’t feel like being in the writing right in this moment and what I’m saying seems like the obvious answer, but eventually this writing slump will pass and you will write again. Maybe these small pieces could could be part of something greater, something better.
Rewrite really old things.
The idea of going through their old work makes everyone cringe, I totally get that. Even reading the first sentences to a lot of my stories makes me feel like I have to throw my whole computer away because of how bad it was. But a great thing about being an artist is you now know how to fix your past errors. Even though rewriting might feel like you’re revisiting the biggest mistake of your life, once you really get into it (believe me you will) it feels like the easiest thing in the world. What I usually do is give it one really through read-through and annotate everything I’m not happy with. When I finish up with that, I open up a new document and start to rewrite everything from scratch. I really like to see how much I’ve grown, and seeing the comparison between then and now really does feel satisfying.
Set deadlines for yourself
Self-discipline is a hard thing to practice, but giving yourself personal deadlines is going to be one of the more effective things than can help you once you get it down. No one knows your limits better than you do. No one knows how long it takes to write something better than you do. Put your knowledge to use. What I try to do, is give myself two days to finish up a rough draft, give myself three days to write a second draft and then finally give myself only one day to finish up a final draft. These are the boundaries that I try to create something within. Personally, giving myself these guidelines is enough for me because I don’t like letting myself down, but if you need an extra boost give yourself a reward. Maybe you’ll buy yourself a candy bar, or get take-out. Whatever works for you.
My final piece of advice is to just remind yourself that at the end of the day you are an artist and that lack of motivation doesn’t mean you’re any less of an artist. We write because we want to create something to show the world at the end of the day. We write because we have our own interpretations of the reality we take space in. You just have to keep pushing through the dark cloud to get back into the world you have created. Don’t drop that pencil, keep writing.
Emily Sanchez is a Hispanic-American writer who specializes in fiction and children’s books. She is also interested in the visual arts and leads the visual arts team for Levitate.