Day after day you stare at a blank page or avoid going near your work in progress all together. Scrubbing toilets is beginning to look like a better use of your time. And you just can’t figure out what’s wrong.
Whether it’s been a few days or endless weeks and months since you last worked on your current project, know it’s possible to get back to it. If you’re reading this, you’re interested in figuring it out. And that shows you still have some motivation.
It’s time to get your journal and write. As a writer, I find one of the best ways to figure something out is to write about it.
Do I know what I need to write next? If not, what can I do to figure it out?
The first question has to do with the project itself. Often writer’s block happens because we don’t know what to write next. This is often a planning problem. If you didn’t outline before you started, then you don’t have a roadmap to keep you from getting stymied about 1/3 of the way in.
Go back over what you’ve done and create an outline. It can help you see the gaps. Then you figure out how to fill them. Once you know your next step, sit down and write.
If you have an outline and are still blocked, revisit it. It also helps if you have a writing buddy you can run it by. Often someone else can more easily see what the problem is.
To make sure you don’t have this problem again, you might want to take up outlining as a regular practice. Whether you do this or not, it’s helpful to write down exactly what you’re going to work on before your next writing session.
If all seems well as far as next steps go, it’s time to get personal about your relationship to your WIP.
How do I feel about my current work in progress?
Is my motivation low because I don’t care much for the story or subject?
Scary question if you’ve spent months or even years on your current project. It could be you’ve lost interest if it’s been in your life a long time. This doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy idea or story to pursue. Sometimes we just need a break.
You can also regain motivation by tapping into how you felt about it originally…especially if you were really excited about it. Use your imagination and write about how you felt when the idea first dawned on you. Feel the excitement. What thoughts help you feel that way? Use words that will help you sustain the feeling. Our feelings, our emotions move us into action.
If one of the two questions above doesn’t help you solve the problem, try this third question.
What happened in my life about the time I stopped working on my current project?
Have you gone through a major life change in the past six months, year?
Things going on in our lives can have a greater effect on our work than we realize.
It may seem like enough time has passed for you to feel better. But it depends on how big a change it was and your own emotional health as to how long it will take to heal.
It has taken me over a year after an unexpected move and my mother dying a little over a month afterwards to fully engage in life again.
Be aware of where you’re at emotionally. Sometimes it takes a while to recover from a major life event. And that means we may not be up to working at the same pace we once were or even working at all.
Take some time write about how you’re feeling if this seems to be your issue. Use your journal to process through your feelings. It can help you get back on track.
If you’re still not sure why you’re not getting the writing done, contact me. I’m here to help. You may have chronic procrastination. That's what I have. It takes working with your mind every day to overcome it. It will get better even if it doesn't go away. You learn to work in ways that help you get the writing done.
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