There could be many reasons why you find yourself in a writing lull: a project ends before you have an idea for a new one, extra demands at work or at home, a loss of confidence, or perhaps you have just misplaced your writing mojo. My own challenge is balancing my writing time with my childcare responsibilities, particularly since the birth of Baby Sam seven weeks ago. He is wriggling and whinging at me from his playmat as I write. I will go and grab him in a few minutes but in the meantime I thought that I would set out a few ideas for writing related activities to keep you going during those temporary slumps (and they will be temporary. If you really love to write, I'll bet nothing stops you for good).
1 Buy a copy of Writing Magazine or Writers' Forum. They are jam packed with motivational pieces and how-to articles plus the author interviews and reader success stories really enthuse me.
2 Go over old stories which haven't yet found a home (we all have them, surely?). Spend a little time re-reading them and see if you can send them off somewhere new. I find that simply revisiting some of my old work gets me going again and gives me the confidence to begin a new project. Entering competitions is also exciting, can generate a little cash and is a great boost for morale if you win or get placed. I still always pay for feedback where it is available as a fresh pair of eyes can often be exactly what I need to see my way forward. I took a break from competitions for a couple of years but have just submitted to three in the past month. I had forgotten how fun it is and I can't wait for the results. Fingers crossed!!
3 Read. Since beginning to write I read differently, noticing things such as structure, point of view, plot threads etc as well as general sentence construction. It spoiled reading for me for a while but now I have learned to enjoy it again by dampening that part of my brain enough to enjoy the story foremost but still absorb useful tips. Also, I find just reading for pleasure without any conscious analysis to be just as good on the whole as it energizes me and gets ideas flowing.
4 Go on a course. This is obviously more for those who are struggling with inspiration/technique rather than time. They can be costly but I have found a number of local courses which cost around £40 for a day of relaxed teaching and discussion with a group of like-minded people. I try and attend a few each year. It's a great way of injecting energy into a project and of gently moving your skills forward without a huge commitment in terms of time and money. If you are in Yorkshire I recommend the courses run by Susan Elliot Wright and Russell Thomas - http://www.susanelliotwright.co.uk/p/workshops.html .
5 Browse through a non-fiction book or magazine. Great for idea generation and when you have an idea you have impetus.
6 Keep in touch with writerly friends whether they be people you see or people you have met on Facebook or Twitter. There are some great communities out there and I have found lovely, supportive people on Twitter. When I am not able to write I enjoy following their progress, reading their blogs and offering words of encouragement. Their endeavour and success spurs me on as I hope mine does in return.
7 Use shower time, walking the dog time, feeding the baby time as thinking time. This is probably second nature to us all but just keeping your mind in the groove even if you can't get to a keyboard for any length of time will help keep the creative part of your mind happy. Always write those ideas down, though. I came up with a great line of prose which could have been the start of a new story but I was watching the television and didn't commit it to paper. By the time the adverts came I had forgotten everything except for the fact that I'd had a good idea which I couldn't recall. Very frustrating.
8 Attend an author event or literary festival. It all helps to keep you in the writer's frame of mind.
Of course, don't let any of these things actually get in the way of your writing. Some people can move their projects forward whenever they can snatch a free minute, others prefer to wait until they can put aside a block of time. Most of us, I suspect, fall somewhere in between. I'd love to know which you are and whether you agree with the above points or perhaps have some others of your own.
Happy writing x
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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