There’s something about January’s that feel all slumpy and non-productive and kind of flat. I had powered ahead with my writing before January, stormed through edits and revisions, got full and partial requests and generally felt pretty great about where my ms was heading.
Then there was January.
And I could not find the motivation. I put it all to one side and read instead. I started this blog and began reading books that weren’t out yet, I discovered some amazing book bloggers and realised that there are a ton of book bloggers out there who love writing too – because that’s where it starts for a lot of us, this love of stories.
And recently, I’ve began to tap away again on my laptop. I made a few notes, a few new ideas and bought some pretty notebooks to write them all down in. I talked a little to friends and my CP about these ideas and what I’m trying to work on. And I stopped worrying that my ms, my first book I had completed in a while, needed work and that I wasn’t quite ready to tackle it yet.
So I have a few ideas now on beating a writing slump. They won’t work for everyone, but maybe some of them might.
Read Something New
Pick up a new book. Follow some new bloggers. Find accounts on twitter and Instagram of people that inspire you, look at their Insta stories and posts. Chances are you’ll get that little spark from something you read and it will turn into an idea and tumble out in words on a page.
I read some excellent YA in January and February which got me motivated and got me thinking. The Belles was the book that really stood out for me, and now I’m reading Children of Blood and Bone, I’ve got a feeling it will do the same. Another one was The Wicked Deep, oh wow, the characters and the plot twists and the lyrical language… find something that inspires you. Read outside your comfort zone. Read non fiction if you don’t usually!
Anything that will break you away from the cycle you’re currently in.
Join a Writer Sprint on Twitter or Instagram
These are really fun and great for accountability. Susan Dennard leads them sometimes, an agent called Lauren Spieller (who is also a writer!) does as well and there’s a writer on Instagram @rjudywrites who sometimes puts them on her Insta stories.
The idea is that you start writing at the same time as them (GO!) and after say, half an hour, you check back in and say what you word count is, whether it was a clean draft, whether you got stuck or felt like the words flew out. It gives that sense of community and it gives you a specific time period to get stuck in. I’ve followed some of Susan Dennard’s and found them really helpful. Plus, she’s awesome!
Put Aside Your Current WIP
I know, I know. You should power through, finish it, you won’t grow as a writer if you don’t, blah, blah, blah.
But all writers are different, just as all artists are different, and one person’s process won’t work for someone else.
So if you find yourself stuck, if you hate your WIP, if your characters are just not around for you right now, then look at the other ideas – the ones you doodle in a notebook, or tap up quickly on your notes on your phone, and have a go at writing out a scene that you love. Chances are the words will begin to flow again, that current WIP will be more appealing when you’ve had some time away from it and you’ll enjoy the process a whole lot more.
Because it’s your story, isn’t it? And it’ll still be there when you’re ready to go back to it.
Listen to a Podcast
When I feel deflated, when I need some inspiration I listen to the 88 cups of tea podcasts. I have a few favourites, Alex Bracken, Susan Dennard, Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas are all utterly amazing and so easy to listen to! But there’s also some that stop and make you think. A different perspective on storytelling, a fresh approach, a new idea.
I found this with listening to the episode with Joanna Volpe, one of the most kick-ass, awesome agents out there and more recently, to Tomi Adeyemi’s. Her book holds such an important message and writing about her characters liberated her, she wanted to write characters that represented her, that spoke to her. And I honestly died a little inside when she said she just hadn’t found that representation growing up – that she hadn’t written the stories with characters that represented her and who she is.
This is such a vital episode of 88 cups of tea to listen to, if you like podcasts, please listen to it. I have so much respect for this brilliant woman and she’s inspired me to be a better writer and a better reader.
Her book, Children of Blood and Bone is out now here it’s new and wonderful and I am loving reading it! I was lucky enough to get a review copy from the awesome people at Macmillan.
So if you’ve hit a writing slump, a block, a wall, an unbreakable non-writing curse, just stop, take stock and see what you’ve already achieved. Be inspired from everything around you. Then just stack one little word on top of another until you have a few sentences to get you through.
It’s because we love it, right?