Writing through the Slump

During the holidays, I decided not to try to cram in daily writing alongside all the stuff we Americans do during the season. Now I’m discovering that I need a little nudge to get back into the writing routine.

Writing Tip for Today: Here are a few ideas for relighting your creative spark.

Read Great Work

It’s dark and January—the perfect time to catch up on your reading. I often preface my writing sessions with an hour of reading. I want the creative juices to rub off on me, and it usually works. I try to find the absolute best material possible, even if it makes my e-reader groan under the strain.

If I can’t add any new books to the TBR pile, I go back to books I’ve loved. My bookshelves are stuffed three-deep, so I’ll never run out of good stuff to read. Yes, sometimes reading great work can make me feel small or not-good-enough, but I try to push past that and ask myself, “What do I have to say?”

I believe all serious writers have a mandate to write their truth. But egos and disappointments are standard in this field, sometimes throwing obstacles in the writer’s path. I find one of the best remedies is to read good poetry. Poets must be so targeted and precise, yet the great ones find ways to touch our deepest longings. Take that feeling to the keyboard.

Muscle Memory

A writing life consists of showing up, (getting your Butt in Chair, or BIC), putting down crap and working it over until it’s not crappy. The showing up part is key. Find a routine that you can actually keep showing up for. Day jobs, family and unexpected calamities touch most of us. Instead of fighting it, you might need to put your routine on hold or modify it. But always keep notes on stuff you want to explore in writing.

As I’ve said, writers acquire the habit of perpetual noticing. The details we see are often what can bring writing to life in a genuine way. Refine your “noticing” skills, so that when you write you can recall important concrete sensory details. If necessary, jot down a few notes to help you remember.

Muscle memory in your writing life comes as you practice. Write even when you don’t “feel inspired.” Create deadlines for yourself. Set goals. If you fall short, at least you are helping yourself create that muscle memory that you need to keep writing.

All serious writers have a mandate to write their truth.

Fuel Passion

Most writers claim that they cannot not write. But now and then most of us have either dry spells or life needs that pause the stream. I don’t really believe in writer’s block per se, but I have had times when writing wasn’t easy. Those times, I stared at the blinking cursor, wishing I’d never started writing at all.

The little hiatus I took around the holidays started to erode that muscle memory to write. To remedy, I am trying to reconnect with my passion to connect through writing. I ask myself why I write. Is it for recognition, money, status? Or do I simply have a passion to connect with others about things I care about?

I think my reasons (and yours) can be all of the above. Yet rekindling passion to write about something is the best way I’ve found to get back to my usual routine. My agent once asked me to hit upon a topic that I couldn’t wait to get to the keyboard to work on. If you find yourself in a writing slump, revisit your own passions for writing. When you do, your creative spark can be reignited and that slump will be a thing of the past.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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