Sometimes you don’t write because your freelancing business goes through a rough patch.
Sometimes you feel like your creativity is completely exhausted, and sometimes life just gets in the way.
Whatever your reason you quit writing is – it’s okay, and it’s completely legitimate.
The important thing is that you do return to writing after a while.
However, it can be tough to just jump back into it after a long break. You may feel lost and like you’ve lost the writing skills you worked hard to build.
Don’t worry – it’s not easy and it doesn’t happen in a single day – but you can get back into writing and start crushing it again.
Today, I’ll discuss the best strategies that worked for me in the past.
Spark Your Creativity
Many writers quit because they feel like their creative muse has abandoned them. But the truth is that creativity is an unlimited resource, you just need to remind yourself how to tap into it.
Reading is my favorite way to get my creative juices flowing. Words can be magical, and it’s just so inspiring to stop and admire a good piece of writing. Reading is also a way to access fresh ideas and concepts that may strike a chord with you.
You don’t even need to read the type of material that you want to write. In fact, I often get inspired by my blog posts when I read fantasy novels.
Sometimes I just come across an interesting sentence structure or a word choice that sparks ideas I can use in my writing assignments.
However, it’s easy to get caught up in the illusion of productivity when you read. Don’t forget that the key is actually sitting down to write.
Have Fresh Assignments Ready
Few things are as discouraging as sitting down to write and staring at a blank document/paper, trying to make your brain come up with even a single idea to get you started.
Moments like that happen often, so it’s important to be prepared.
A good prevention method for these moments of creative block is to have a list of writing prompts, topics, or assignments ready in advance.
I keep a Google Doc with brief overviews of blog post ideas I want to cover in the future, but if you’re on the go, a dictation app for your phone may work better for you.
Alternatively, you may find creative writing prompts online or check out the hot topics your favorite bloggers are writing about.
Push through Writer’s Block
Writer’s block can be a terrible, menacing beast. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to fight it off.
Find the Cause
Sometimes writer’s block strikes when you feel insecure about your work, and sometimes you just feel overwhelmed with everything going on around you.
First of all, remember that you’re not alone – every artist feels “the block” sometimes, and, eventually, everybody comes out of it as a winner.
One of the most important steps in fighting writer’s block is finding what caused it. To do that, give yourself a moment to reflect and be honest with yourself.
An often-cited Yale research paper sought to find the most common causes of writer’s block in professional writers from a variety of disciplines.
They ended up with a list of four key emotions that trigger the painful inability to write productively.
- Apathy – where writers felt too constrained by the rules, which were often self-imposed,
- Anger – feeling disappointment after one’s work went unnoticed or heavily criticized,
- Anxiety – the feeling of worthlessness and insecurity about the quality of one’s work,
- Issues with others – where writers compared their writing with the work of others, resulting in fear and insecurity.
Finding the root of the problem is the first step to pushing through writer’s block and letting your talent shine again.
A prominent cause of writer’s block is the aversion to creating something that’s low quality, uninspired, or cliché.
And that’s why you should challenge yourself to do just that – write as badly as you can. In other words, it’s time to write trash.
It doesn’t matter if you opt for an overdone trope that you simply hate or make a piece of writing that’s essentially illegible due to bad grammar.
Make it a challenge for yourself to write something that’s so trashy you absolutely hate it. Don’t worry about structure, grammar, or if the narrative makes sense. The worse – the better.
Why? Well, it’s simply a great way to get yourself to sit down to write and have fun doing it.
It’s a good way to remind yourself that you built your skills up to the point that you can recognize bad writing. But above all, it’s a great opportunity to write without the stress of high expectations.
Re-establish Your Writing Habit
Once you get rid of the anxiety regarding your writing, it’s time to re-establish a sustainable writing habit.
Don’t Expect Wonders
First of all, don’t expect to be super productive on your first day.
Chances are, most of what you write on your first day back as a writer will suck. Deal with that in advance, don’t get discouraged, and just push through it. The most important thing in your first couple of days is to get your rhythm back.
Tomorrow is a new day. Make sure you show up day after day, and you’ll be back to creating quality pieces in no time.
Make a Schedule
One of the biggest takeaways from Mason Currey’s “Daily Rituals” where he assesses the habits of many productive artists is that successful professionals follow a strict work routine.
Make your writing schedule and stick to it, no matter what. You may set a specific word count you want to reach every day or just focus on writing for a certain amount of time.
If you take the time to write between 10 AM and 3 PM every day, you’ll have quite a bit to show off after just a week.
Stay consistent, and you will never have to deal with procrastination. After a while, you simply get started on time out of habit.
Establish a Writing Space
It’s easier to get in the zone when you have your own writing nook.
Make it a specific space that’s separate from your sleep and play areas.
This trick is simple – when you associate “the space” with writing, you’ll prime yourself for writing as soon as you enter the space every day.
Besides, you won’t have to deal with clearing your desk and setting up before you can actually get started.
Everybody deals with procrastination sometimes. Even though procrastinating gets your dishes washed and your desktop perfectly organized, getting started on your writing becomes harder every time you put it off.
Focus on Small Chunks
One of the most common reasons why people procrastinate is the feeling that the pending task is daunting and huge.
It’s hard to get started when the task feels impossible to complete. That’s why most experts recommend breaking your task into smaller chunks.
Writing a chapter feels way more doable than writing a novel. Focus on completing a small piece, like a single heading of your article or sending one of the 10 emails you need to complete.
Don’t worry about the small quantity of work – every huge project is made out of tiny parts.
It’s easier to get started and once you do – congratulations – you’ve successfully broken the vicious cycle of procrastination.
Bonus tip: Think of a small reward you’ll get yourself once you complete that small chunk of work. It’ll help get you motivated!
Lower Your Expectations
Sometimes we’re our own worst enemies. You may put off writing because you expect too much of yourself.
I, for example, used to have a goal to write 2000 words every day. Achieving this amount of writing is motivating, but falling short of that word count used to make me feel like a failure.
So, I halved my word count expectations. The 1000 word goal is not difficult to achieve and is within reach even on a bad day – and when I do exceed it, I feel amazing and get motivated.
Get Started Now
A mistake that’s common among people who procrastinate is saying “I’ll start tomorrow” or “I’ll start when the clock hits 10:00”.
This simply doesn’t work. Instead, get started right away.
Once you get started, it’ll be so easy to just keep on going, so don’t put it off any longer than you have to.
Join a Community
Nobody likes to let other people down. That’s why making yourself accountable can be a great motivation to get started on your writing.
Whether you share a short story every month on Reddit, post weekly opinion pieces on your blog, or participate in NaNoWriMo and try to complete your novel by the end of the month – the feeling that your community expects you to publish at a particular time will hold you accountable and make you meet the deadline.
What’s the longest you went through without writing? What helps you get back on track? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts in the comments!