Sometimes when I get in a rut with my writing, it seems the most difficult thing to do is to be productive with my time. Things I used to be able to complete in hours will take five times as long, with projects stretching into days. For a long time, I never understood why. “I’m working all the time. Why am I not getting anything done?” I would ask.
Finally, I had figured it out. Getting in a writer’s rut is not much different than writer’s block and much like writer’s block, it can affect different people in different ways but the one key to it is that you are simply not as productive as you should be. With writer’s block, you may not be able to write anything at all. You’re stuck. You’re drawing blank. You’re struggling.
With a writer’s rut, you will be writing but you won’t be writing at maximum potential. Simple tasks may seem more difficult, you will feel burnout more quickly and you might not find writing inspiring that would normally make you excited.
Here’s the thing about being in a writer’s rut: you’re not making as much money as you could be. If you’re trying to make money from your writing, this is a big problem. For many of us, time is money and wasted time is lost wages and that simply won’t do. But the more you stress about it, the worse it can become.
So what can you do about it?
Here are some ways to bounce back from a writer’s rut:
- Stop writing. Seriously. No, I have not lost my mind. One of the biggest causes of a writer’s rut is burn out. You can fix burn out by taking some time off. Take the weekend off and enjoy yourself. Go for a walk or to the park. Go to the gym and work out for a bit. Do something physical or something different to get your mind off writing and this will be like a reset button. You will typically find that you create new space in your mind for the creativity to flow.
- Challenge yourself. Another way to break free from the rut is to challenge yourself to do something new or different. Sometimes you get in a rut because you’ve just been doing the same thing the same way for too long. As a copywriter, I write nonfiction almost exclusively so sometimes to help pull myself out of a rut, I’ll write a short story or a poem. Mixing it up with some fiction or challenging myself with something new or different (such as a writing assignment or a contest) is a good way to break the rut.
- Be present. Sometimes you just need to make a deliberate and committed effort to be present in the moment. Don’t let writing become this mundane task you always do and often take for granted. Know what you’re doing. Love what you’re doing. Feel the moment. Be present. This will help you pull out of your rut and remember why you love doing this in the first place.
- Make a public commitment. Making a public choice to commit to something like a writing challenge (like Blogging from A to Z, for example) is one way to get out of your funk and keep yourself motivated.
Keep in mind that each of these ideas won’t work every time and for every person. You need to do some soul-searching to understand what’s happening in your life right now that could be contributing to your problem. This will help you know which ideas may have the greatest impact on your current state. But if you make money from your writing and it seems your productivity has slowed, these tips might help you get back on track and with that same fiery passion you had in the beginning.
Until next time,