There’s a secret that most published, self-published and otherwise noteworthy writers know. If all first-time authors knew this secret, the collective blood pressure of the writing industry would go down by about 20 percent. Here it is. Even the best writers in the world still get off track. From time to time, legitimate, professional writers will sit down at their desk during their prescribed writing time and nothing will happen.
This is the final post of my 30-day blog tour, and I can honestly say that on multiple occasions in the last month, I tried to write a post and came up with nothing past the blinking cursor. There’s no magical point you pass that allows you to write every single time you want to. You can improve your percentage over time, but every so often, you just lose your writing groove.
When I lose my groove, here are five methods I’ve used to try to get it back.
1. Take the Day Off
Between my freelance writing gigs and my creative writing career, I end up writing more than 15,000 words most weeks. If I’m working on a story, that number can climb past 25,000. I often push myself to the limit. When I sit down to write and my usual tricks of a snack, a walk around the block or a trip to my local coffee shop don’t work, I know it’s time to take the day off.
The most important part about taking the day off is not to beat myself up about it. The relaxation time is typically deserved, so I do my best to smile and let the time off do its thing.
2. Take Care of My Health
If I’ve been writing up a frenzy lately, I may be stretching the limit of certain healthy habits to the breaking point. Too many heavy snacks, a lack of sleep and a dearth of exercise-produced endorphins can seriously damage my writing mojo. Stringing together multiple healthy days of eating, sleeping and exercising in a row can be just the thing to get me back on track.
3. Do Something for Somebody Else
Even though I write for my readers, writing can feel like a selfish profession sometimes. You spend a lot of time alone, and you can’t help but talk about your work when you’re with others. Occasionally, when I’m feeling burned out, I attempt to do a 180. I comment on a few friends’ blog posts or a donate a few bucks to a well thought out Kickstarter project. I go see a show with a few friends or I ask my wife if we can cook for a dozen or so of her co-workers. Doing something that doesn’t benefit me in the slightest helps me to feel good about myself. Inner positivity is one of my keys for writing productivity.
4. Do Something for Me
Writing also involves a lot of work. You research, outline, write, publish, promote and pray that people will actually care. It can be exhausting. With more than a few failed titles under my belt, I can tell you it’s pretty demoralizing work.
If I’m feeling blue, I try to do something nice for myself. I’ll watch a movie I’ve really wanted to see in the middle of the afternoon. I’ll gather the ingredients for my favorite meal. I may even let myself indulge in a silly, time-wasting computer game. I’d rather fit in some play time now than force myself to write until I feel even more burned out.
5. Remember My Pride
Before I published anything, I had plenty to be proud of. I have even more to celebrate now, particularly after a wild 2013 that included the publication of my 32nd book, the airing of a game show appearance and my wonderful wedding! I’m proud of the decisions I’ve made and the work I’ve done to reach this point. If I feel like the groove is gone, I remind myself of how proud I am of what I’ve accomplished. This positive boost is sometimes all I need to get right back in the game.
I didn’t always have a groove. It took me time to find it and I considered giving up many times along the way. I believe everybody has a zone they can get into that allows them to write productively. Keep looking and try out these tricks. With these methods, you may just find your own personal formula to writing grooviness.
In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter! You can also check out the rest of Cohen’s tour here
Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.