Sometimes, writing sucks. No, I don’t mean the end result, because that’s glorious—O so glorious blah blah—and it feels like you’re on top of a mountain. I don’t mean the act of writing itself when you’re in the zone, letting out your inner Stephen King, pounding text to the pavement a million miles a second like a jumbled cliche. I don’t mean the hustle and bustle of creativity that runs through your mind, plotting characters, creating universes, sending said characters out on dire missions and destroying their carefully-crafted lives. Those are all awesome.
I mean writing slumps. Not to be confused with writer’s block, which is just a brief old moment of exhaustion and a lack of putting words to the page for only a few hours, or a few days. A writing slump is different. It’s more like a writing dead end. A no-go zone. Where, sure, you can put pen to the paper, or text to the .docx, but the enjoyment, the love that got you into this thing…well, it’s gone. I mean, sometimes it makes brief appearances, spurts of excitement that make you realise why you do this, and then…poof!
So, how do you get this, for lack of a better word, mojo back? How do you find your passion again? Do you just uninstall all your word-processing documents—Word and Scrivener and the Apple equivalents? Deleting word-processing programs is an incredibly stupid idea—no, don’t delete them. If you own Writing the Next Bestseller Abuse Erotica/16 Year Old Teen Girl Dystopian/Vampire Teen Romance/Suspicious [Ex] Partner Crime Novel a la ‘Gone Girl’ or ‘Girl on the Train’ or ‘The Widow’ or ‘The Missing Wife’ or Whatever, just throw that bullcrap away anyway. It’s not doing you any good. You can’t just “learn” to write. You can improve a little, like what Stephen King says in On Writing, but those books aren’t doing you any good, other than wasting space for better books in your bookshelf/bookshelves. So, what do you do? Well, like me, you Google your problem and see what other people have to say to help solve your crippling writer’s blank.
- Think of why you’re doing this: Enjoyment, money, fame, way to use up that endless boredom. There’s a reason why writers/aspiring authors write, after all. Think of why you’re doing it. Recall why you started doing this in the first place. It wasn’t so you could sob in a corner, shouting to the book Gods “Why! Why?”
- Think of what made you stop: If you’re like me, a combination of life stressors and the pressure from university creative writing faculty made you get into a slump, there’s a reason. Maybe a family member or friend criticised you for doing what you love. Hint: Ignore them. Maybe you were just bored writing historical fiction or cheesy vampire romance-thrillers. If so, maybe you just need a genre shift. The only way to fix what’s wrong is to figure out why you stopped.
- Relax: I know it’s difficult, but take a deep breath, listen to some calming music, play a meaningless video game. Don’t: Complain or get triggered on the internet, run around with your arms in the air, or obviously panic. You’ve clearly done enough of that stuff if you’re reading this. Now’s the time to stop blaming yourself.
- Try to find other ways to get back into writing: For me, all it took was the right song to help me finish my first completed novel. Maybe you just need to read the right book/s to get you back in the mind-set. Always look for inspiration, and sometimes don’t even actively look for it. Sometimes the mojo comes back without you even being aware of it. Always keep a notepad, phone with a voice memo/notepad function, or a computer/laptop around just in case the inspiration strikes. Trust me, it can!
- Take part in NaNoWriMo: Yeah, I understand, it can be difficult to write a whole 60,000+ word novel in one month. It took me over a year to write my 40,000 word first novel. But, if you want the inspiration to strike, wait until the start of the new month (doesn’t even have to be November), and open up a Word document or notepad, and start writing. You don’t even have to enjoy it. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. But at least you’re trying! And that’s better than just staring at a blank document for eternity.