Digging yourself out of a writing slump

Unslumping yourself by just daring to write something

Some days I feel inspirationless—or worse, I feel discouraged—that my writing isn’t good enough, or I haven’t got anything to say, or that no one wants to read what I write.  And, well, that feels awful.

But I’ve found that the way through it is writing.Leonid_Pasternak_001

It’s easy to doubt myself. And it’s easy, in turn, to let that doubt freeze me, debilitate me, dictate my right to be a writer.

Well, I’m tenacious, and more than a little bit stubborn.  Besides, I’ve never been really good at doing what people tell me to do (more on that later).

So I disobey my doubt.

I also write about what’s real.  Sometimes I feel writer’s block comes from some perfectionistic image of what we’re supposed to write, instead of addressing the issue at hand.

Write it out. See what happens.

You’re upset about your marriage or the dog dying? Write it.  You’re waiting for that package to be delivered or that email to come? Write it.

Capture for yourself the feeling of that moment—sure, the scene may never be useful for you—but the description of that feeling may become invaluable—because, after all, your characters may experience some of those oh-so-human emotions of disappointment, loss, anxiety, and anticipation.  And you’ve just time-capsuled for yourself what it feels like to be in that moment.

Write through it and you may end up with some of the best nuggets, the ones you thank yourself for later.

unslumpingDr. Suess said “unslumping yourself is not easily done,” but one way through this feeling is to realize that not everything we write will be or is intended to be published.

We know this somewhere deep inside ourselves.  We know this because we’ve been through the revision process. Yet, when we sit down to write, we put this unrealistic expectation of publishable material flowing from our fingertips.

I get it.  We all want to be writing geniuses.  Wouldn’t it be great to sit down and write the perfect novel from beginning to end, first try?  Sounds great, but it should also sound laughable.

I’m sure it’s happened to someone, somewhere—perhaps several times.  But it’s the exception, not the norm.

Accept your doubt, but disobey it.  Write through it and see what happens.  The worst thing that could happen: you write a flop.  But it’s more likely you’ll generate a nugget to save for later, your doubt will dissipate, and you’ll be able to get on with the writing task at hand.

When have you had a time you’ve disobeyed your doubt?

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