How to Get Out of a Rut As a Writer

Ever feel like this as a writer?

I just finished a rather lengthy project for a friend and now after two weeks I’m coming back to the novel I am writing.  I started in on a chapter last night and just found that the juices that were flowing two weeks ago had been completely used up to finish the paid project I was doing before it.  I am not letting this get me down, and I am not letting this keep me from getting back to my novel.  Here are a few things I do to get back into the swing of things.

  1. Take a Step Outside – I don’t mean to walk out doors, but I mean to go back to your outline and your notes and read them one more time to get back into the feel of what you were doing.  If you refresh your memory as to why you were writing this novel in the first place (you motivations) you may find yourself rushing right back into the world you created quite easily.
  2. Read It Again – Shed all preconceptions about your novel and simply read what you have written as if you were a reader and not a writer.  It will give you a fresh perspective on your novel and hopefully you will find the things that drew you to it in the first place and help you finish the story.
  3. Watch Movies/TV – Find films or television episodes that are closest in genre or the world you are trying to create and get into the mood of them.  I’m writing a post-apocalyptic novel, so I watch The Walking Dead and The Book of Eli to get a feel for the environment again.  The struggles of those characters trying to survive in that bleak environment help me get into the heads of my characters that I created.  My book is nowhere near the plot of those two examples of media, but the character motivations of survival, community dynamics and the animalistic nature of humans in dire circumstances are issues that my characters are experiencing.
  4. Talk to People About Your Book – Hit those friends up who seemed interested in your story and who read that kind of genre anyway and pick their brains.  Bounce ideas off of them and get feedback.  Get yourself into a writing circle either on a message board or in person and talk to other writers.  Sometimes talking it out with others can get you back into the world you are creating and really help you dig in for the long haul.
  5. Don’t Spend Too Much Time Re-Planning – A great person once said: “The only thing that will get your book written is bum glue and fingers moving.”  This is my motto.  Don’t spend too much time on the first four of these tips or you will overthink the novel and start wondering if you should have written it in the first place.  Once you get the juices flowing again, get to the laptop or computer or yellow legal pad and get after it. 

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

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