By: Jenaya Curry
Stop for a moment. Take a breath.
Most people believe you always have to be motivated to do something, but in reality, sometimes you have to do something to breed motivation. This is the last thing you want to hear, but diligence and an overwhelming desire to write crafted pieces isn’t going to electrify your brain as you sit there and “wait for inspiration.” The longer you delay the actual task of writing, the lower your motivation becomes. And the lower your motivation becomes, the longer you delay the actual task of writing. It’s a deadly cycle. This can be a scary time if you start to think you’re losing your passion as a writer. Last week I posted this as I was spiraling in self-doubt, believing I was the only writer in the universe struggling. As I found out, this wasn’t true: everybody experiences the same thing I did. So relax. I will say it again. R-e-l-a-x. Your motivation will come back once you start writing again, despite those nagging feelings. Need help getting started? Here are some ideas that’ll help you break the cycle.
1) Admit it sucks. Don’t deny that you’re going through a dry spell. Write a letter to yourself, a poem, or prose. Maybe give that lethargy a name and write it as a supernatural force that attacks people. It’s up to you. Write anything that’ll let you get the feeling off your chest.
2) Write when you’re exhausted. The first piece I wrote to get out of this slump was at 4:30 am. Why? So I could come up with an idea while my brain too tired to criticize every word, helps get a steady stream of word flow going. (Some advice: Don’t post this until you’ve revised it later. Anything you write will sound like a masterpiece half-asleep, then you’ll stare at it in horror hours later.) Still, the point is to come up with an idea you can work off of.
3) Do some “junk food” writing. “Junk food” writing is the cliché, terrible pieces you write purely for fun. You’ve done it correctly if you would die before showing it to anybody else, but it made you laugh or smile in the process. Don’t do this all the time; only in moderation when you’re really stuck. Hence the name “junk food.”
4) Make your reader cringe. Complete a short description, poem, or snapshot piece. It doesn’t matter if it’s weird or doesn’t make sense. Your challenge is simply to make your reader react. (Bonus points if you see their face in person.) I’ve come up with this:
“She popped each jelly bean candy into her mouth. Some were tangy, some were fruity, some were sweet. As she started chewing, the bites became furry, then crunchy, then moving, then crawling. She tried to spit the little creatures out, but it was too late. The spiders crept up through her nose and down her soft, fleshy throat.”
I hope you realize that the point is to get started in order to keep going. Just getting words down on the page is something to celebrate, even if it’s not necessarily something you’re proud of. No, you haven’t lost your spark. No, it’s not the end of the world. And yes, you’re still a writer.
But don’t sit there and take my word for it. Prove it and start writing!
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