First, I have to say that my motivation to write comes from the inside as I believe is the case for many writers. Not writing is not an option for me and hasn’t been for a long time. Still, it is sometimes difficult to find the courage to sit down in front of my laptop and get started, especially if I don’t know how the story is going to continue or if I’m not satisfied with what I’ve written so far. That can put me in a dark place in which I try to avoid continuing the story. I even sometimes get to a point where I think it’s worthless. No one is going to enjoy reading what I write and it’s not even fun to tell this story, so why go on?
If you’ve never been in a place like that: Lucky you! If you have or if you’re even in a slump and haven’t written for a while, maybe some of the things I do to find my motivation again can help you as well.
One trick that works for me is to tell myself that I’ll only write 100 words today. I know beforehand that it won’t take a long time and I can almost always squeeze out those ten sentences, even if I’m tired, even if I have a headache or so many things on my checklist I don’t know where to start. Often, I end up writing more. But even if I don’t I tell myself that I’ve made progress and that’s a good thing. One positive side effect is that writing almost every day keeps you in your story which means you also continue thinking about it.
Sometimes the reason for being demotivated is a problem with the story. A plot hole or the fact that you’ve written yourself into a corner. Instead of ignoring the elephant in the room, it is often best to address that problem, even if it scares you because you feel like it might destroy your whole story. Most often that’s not the case and you will be able to find a solution if you take a closer look. For some writers, it’s helpful to talk about the issue with a friend or fellow writer. It might also help to write the problem down and plot a few strategies to deal with it. Maybe you need your protagonist to do something unexpected. Even if that doesn’t work out it might show you the right path. Maybe the story needs to take a turn at this point. Or maybe you just have to keep on writing and at some point, things will make sense again. Remember: everything is better than giving up. There is probably a way to continue and finish your story, even if it takes a little time.
The reason that you have no idea to continue or that it becomes more and more difficult for you to write may also be that you have too much on your plate right now. Work or family or health issues may take up your energy and if that is the case: Take a break. Don’t stress yourself out even more. If you realize that it’s all too much at a certain point in your life, don’t push yourself and be kind to yourself. When the dust settles, you’ll still be able to continue your story.
It may also be the case that you need a little input. Maybe your thoughts have drifted around your story for so long you’re not able anymore to see the wood for the trees. Watch movies or series, read books or just go out into the woods or if it’s possible, take a little trip to a place you’ve long wanted to see. It doesn’t need to be far away. Maybe there is an interesting natural habitat or town around the corner. It always gets my creative juices flowing to be out in nature and see new places. Try not to focus on your story for a short while and just relax.
If I’m at a dead end and have no idea what my characters are going to do next, it sometimes helps me to write something that doesn’t have anything to do with the story. It could be a letter or diary entry from one of the characters that allow me to get into their heads better. Or I stage a dialogue between two characters in my head. That works best when I’m on a walk. I often get ideas for how my story could continue out of that.
Of all of these little tricks what works best for me is just to keep writing. It often feels as if the story itself shows me a way out of an impasse. Even if your writing is a little trashy for a while, trust in your abilities to tell your story. It will get better again and there is a reason we edit our stories after all.
Do you have any tricks that get you out of a slump? Let me know in the comments, I’d be happy to try them.