It’s officially post-NaNoWriMo 2015, and my writing process is feeling a little stale. I imagine I’m not the only one. While having a consistent routine and rhythm is definitely a great thing, it’s easy to get distracted and crave a little change in the monotony. Maybe your routine is fine, but your creative muse is feeling blocked? It happens to all of us. This list is going to assume you know that taking a break is always your best option in switching things up. But what if simply taking a few weeks off isn’t enough, and you return to your desk feeling the same as when you left? In any case, Here are 10 Ways To Refresh Your Writing Process when the words just aren’t flowing like they used to:
Change the scenery | Refrain from limiting yourself to only writing in one place. Try detaching from your desk and taking your computer to a coffee house or even your living room floor. I like to sprawl out in front of the couch while my husband is playing video games. I feel less restricted to my four office walls, and it refreshes my imagination. Besides physical scenery, remember the power of a good old fashioned notebook! It’s likely that your eyes need a break from the constant glow of your computer screen.
Experiment with another genre | When’s the last time you wrote a poem? A journal entry? An alien romance? Harry Potter fanfiction? As writers we all love to write, but that love can be muted by the pressure of deadlines and a need for perfection. Lighten the pressure by pushing away your work in progress and sketching out something completely different. Your writing gears that work so hard to turn out a great HP fanfic are the SAME gears that are getting rusty over your original work in progress. Oil them up by switching their attention!
Incorporate exercise and healthy eating into your routine | I know, I said the “E” word. Shame on me. I also know writers love their sugary coffee and rewarding themselves with sweets at the end of a word goal. This is all totally fine, but consider this: getting your blood pumping can actually help generate new ideas. You don’t have to run a mile or start lifting weights. Simply take a walk or dance around your office for a few minutes. Anything that gets your body moving will get the gears in your head working too. Exercise is even proven to make you smarter by sharpening your focus and helping impulse control, according to this Forbes list. Also consider swapping out a few mugs of coffee for some lemon water or hot tea. It’s all about baby steps! At the end of the day, the better you take care of yourself the sharper your writing skills will become. We put so much into our work that writers often forget to stop and take care of themselves!
Doodle | Simple. No pressure. Flip to a blank page and just start doodling anything that comes to mind. Allow your creative mind to relax into something that has no limits or expectations!
Reread your favorite book as a writer | Pick up a novel that you’ve read before, and pick apart pieces that you like or dislike from a writers perspective. Many of us haven’t truly studied a piece of literature since grade school. However, it’s certainly beneficial to go back to the basics when you’re stuck. Take notes and incorporate the things you love into your own writing.
Clean your space | During the “first draft” process, we tend to let other aspects of our personal lives fade to the background. The dishes build up and the laundry goes undone. Cleaning up your area is a great way to clean out your cluttered mind. I don’t just mean dust or wash the windows, I mean THROW STUFF AWAY! Clean out your office like you’re cleaning out your own head. Purge anything that’s unused and taking up space. Let it go, donate it, move on. Treat it like an early spring cleaning and start 2016 off with less clutter in your life.
Take an internet hiatus | We all know Twitter keeps us from writing almost 99% of the time. (That’s not a real statistic, I just feel it in my bones.) But it’s more than just a distraction. The comparison game can be a huge stopper on your creative flow. It happens even if you’re not totally aware of it: Oh, her life is better than mine. He’s already published. I’ll never have that many followers. Pump the brakes and remember that this is about you, and your journey is unique!
Study the pros | When in doubt, look to your favorite authors for help! I promise they’ve been asked the “creativity” “writers block” and “writing process” questions one million times in at least one million interviews. Look them up! See how your idols are shaking off writers block and try them out! Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, and Virginia Woolfe were known to stand while they wrote their novels, the screenwriter behind The West Wing acted out his dialogue, and Victor Hugo enjoyed writing in the nude! You never know what is going to work unless you try, but you should definitely not limit yourself to the old fashioned “ass in chair” mentality!
Go blog hopping | When I’m feeling like my writing is hollow, and the words just aren’t as colorful as when I started, I go blog hopping. Usually, I start off on Pinterest and browse my growing collection of writing advice blog posts from other writers. If you’re not utilizing your brilliant peers as a resource, your missing out on a lot of delicious information that could be making you a better writer!
Start your own blog | Blogging about writing has immensely helped my writing life. Just recently I opened up about my struggle with anxiety and how it effects my creativity. You don’t have to start an advice blog for it to be beneficial to you. Something as simple as an online journal can help connect you to other writers and get your gears turning enough to sprint to the finish line of your WIP! Websites like Weebly or CreateSpace are completely free, with beautiful layouts that can be customized to fit your needs.
I hope these tips help you to feel refreshed and new in your writing process, and allow you to keep going on your first, second or tenth draft. Of course, these tips also apply to any other step in the process whether it is editing or querying for an agent. It is up to us to listen to our body and minds and take breaks when we need them, so we don’t wind up getting burnt out, which is possibly the worst thing we can do to our creative muscles. And who knows, maybe taking a break will lead you to a monumental break through!
As always, no matter what, keep writing!