Writing can be pretty lonely. It’s also a proactive act, filled with discipline and self motivation that forces you to provoke emotion with stories and concepts that haven’t existed before. To have to grapple with ideas and how to express them, to distill concepts in thought provoking ways so readers find your material remarkable, hell – it’s a heady task.
Sometimes we hit a day or a week or a month (!) where we don’t want to go inside our heads and pull out ideas and find the words to describe them. We grind to a halt. We self sabotage ourselves. We want to taste that sweet sweet awesomeness we feel when we are in the zone.
Here are a few tips to get you going when you don’t feel like writing.
1) Give yourself a good talking to.
Seriously. Go into a room by yourself and start talking to yourself. Let your words ring beyond the walls of your head. Talk to yourself as if someone is in the room. If you believe in spirit guides or a guardian angel is by your side, then talk to them like you’re Claire from “Six Feet Under” confiding in her dead father or brother.
I know it sounds creepy. I know it might sound nuts, but it’s only nuts if you’re walking down the street talking to no one and people start crossing the street to avoid you.
Talk to yourself in a quite, empty room. Get out your frustrations with why you are not writing. Think about what may be blocking you. Are your scared? Are you tired? Are you stuck on a chapter and your fear you’ll never get through it. Work on this as if it’s a natural mind flush – not something weird. You’re getting words out of your head and into your ears.
You may even want to record your voice to capture a useful writing idea floating through.
2) Get Comfortable Being Alone.
I’m a member of a closed Facebook page with other entrepreneurs. There was a lovely member who posted a message on being nervous about deciding to travel alone to Washingon D.C. and needed emotional support to go through with this. We all cheered her on because most of us have mastered solitary travel. We encouraged her to not think about being alone on this trip and to fill her days doing fun things SHE wants to do. Museums, restaurants, memorials, activities. And she did! She came back feeling refreshed and empowered by the experience.
Go to the park alone. Go to a movie alone. Hell – go to dinner at a nice restaurant alone. You’re not a loser doing this. Bring a book. Read your Kindle, but eventually put them down and view people around you. Watch how patrons interact at the other tables. Talk to the waiter or waitress and ask them about their job, or the patrons they deal with everyday. Taste the food. Drink the wine. Make fun of yourself and lighten up about being at the table alone. Go to a museum alone. Go to the theater alone. Watch other people taking their seats. Observe the ushers and wonder what their lives are about.
Be comfortable with yourself so you can experience life magnified. Scoop up ideas and gain the mental clarity get back to get back to writing.
3) Get Out And Have Fun with Your Family and Friends!
The first two items are pretty solitary so, let’s get this straight: Don’t be a recluse! Yes, get comfy with your ‘aloneness’ from time to time, but get out and socialize. Get down and dirty with experiences with people. Be one with your friends family. Start up a wine tasting get-together in your home, or a book reading club, a foodie club, a motorbike appreciation society, tattooed ladies who crochet – anything to interact with others who share a hobby that may contribute new ideas.
Or just go to a movie with friends. You don’t have to be a social community organizer pulling together cute hobby clubs to interact. Just do it. I know you know how to be with people – now get ‘er done.
4) Get Off Social Media for a Day
Challenge yourself. Make your day filled with museums, art, movies, binge watching fantastically written television shows, podcasts, Ted Talks or cook recipes you’ve been meaning to try. Get really involved at work on a project or activity with co-workers. Live life outside the Twitter feed or Facebook status update. Imagine all the cool stuff that’s going to accumulate on Tumblr or Instagram at 11pm that night for your to read because you were out all day interacting with people, or reading or writing or working on a project at work that will help develop a skill. See how long you can get off your iPhone and internet and keep going one hour more…then another. Hell, just get caught up in interacting with life.
Some of us remember when the internet didn’t exist, and remember how our brains reacted to everyday analog things. I know my imagination has taken a hit since the internet happened. I used to go the library, take out books and spend an entire weekend afternoon reading. Now, I can’t do it without my mind wandering and wanting to check my email. Technology has re-wired our brains away from the creative process. Our imaginations are being filled with digital creations. We aren’t creating for ourselves.
So, let’s try it for a day. No social media. Let your own brain imagine things for you – not a Periscope feed.
5) Remember…This Will Pass
Sometimes there’s a reason why our brains stop producing ideas and our hands cease to write a single word. We’re over worked or burned out. If your self discipline goes south, and you can’t find the mind space to write – don’t beat yourself up.
But know this: You have to make a pact with writing. You have to promise that writing table that you will return and continue. You don’t get off easy here. I know I don’t. Writing is a constant battle with a little snarky asshole called “Resistance”. Read Steven Pressfield’s “War on Art” and you will get the bare bones breakdown of this nasty little piece of business.
Resistance will make excuses. Resistance will feel like you’re tired. Resistance will tell you you’re lazy. Resistance will say you’re not a writer.
Oh yes you are.
If you miss a day or two of writing, you will likely feel sluggish or crappy. You know why? Because you’re a writer who is meant to be writing.
Rest if you must. Take what I’ve offered as a way to replenish and carve out new neuropaths in your brain. Fill up your shoe with ideas.
Then, get back to the page and keep moving on.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your fellow writers.
March 30, 2016 at 10:47 pm
When I’m stuck on a problem, I like to brainstorm on paper, which eventually turns into a conversation with myself. Similar to your tip #1, only written down. As I’m taking notes I’ll ask myself questions, muse on them, try to answer them. And I write it all down as if I was having a me-on-me chat. It really helps direct and clarify my thoughts. 🙂
March 30, 2016 at 10:51 pm
Awesome advice! I do the same thing as well. Sometimes I get so stuck that I need to talk it out to get the process going. But writing it also opens the floodgates!