Writing can be completely rewarding, but equally, it can sometimes be difficult to keep up the momentum and stay inspired.
Maybe at the start of your WIP, the words just seemed to flow from your fingers like magic, scenes fit together easily and your characters did exactly what you wanted them to. But you’ve reached the middle (or even just a few pages in) and your writing is grinding to a halt.
So, how to combat this?
First, you need to understand this:
The ultimate key to writing consistently and… *finishing a book*, is that you have to keep writing even when you don’t feel at all inspired.
If you write only when you feel inspired, it will probably take you a year to write 1,000 words, let alone an entire draft. Instead, teach yourself to keep writing even when it’s the absolute last thing you want to do.
Treat writing like a job
If you want to write consistently, it is so important to set up some sort of routine that you can stick to (and that gets you in the right mindset for working).
Try to write in the same place, maybe at the same time or for a certain amount of time each day. Maybe you have a specific writing playlist, maybe you have a specific notebook you write in, maybe you read a pep talk or watch a video before starting. Whatever your routine is, stick to it.
*This isn’t to say that I believe in writing every single day; I totally admire people who do, but I don’t think it’s essential at all (and I would literally go mad if I tried to do that).*
Set Writing Goals
This partly comes under treating writing like a job, but I thought it deserved its on point. If you want to write consistently, having things to work towards and to reward yourself with is essential (especially when you don’t always have inspiration)
As a writer, unlike other creative jobs like being a musician (where you get joy from actively practising the instrument, not just the end product), writing is not always a self rewarding activity. Sure, some scenes bring great joy and writing can be super fun, but it certainly isn’t all sunshine and daisies (trust me, I’ve pulled my hair out enough time to know).
If you set regular goals for yourself (for example, for reaching a weekly word count, or writing for one hour each day), this can be a great incentive to finish that tricky scene or work through a rough part in the story.
Have someone to hold you accountable.
As a writer, it can be to easy to spend your days in a state of constant procrastination (I am the absolute queen of procrastination- I can honestly find anything to procrastinate on). But, something I have found so helpful to tame my procrastination is having a community of writers (on both Instagram, my blog and NaNoWriMo).
Having a community, or a writing/ critique partner means you can hold each other accountable to reaching a certain word count or to forwarding your story, because you have other people who know about it, and who are counting on you finishing it.
When it comes to re-discovering your writing inspiration, this can be such a helpful tool! Free-writing means putting your characters into random situations, based on prompts, or your own imagination. There are loads of ideas and prompts online that make this really easy.
I have found that a great way to get back into writing is to take part in free-writing scene sprints (a scene sprint means writing as much as you can– even if it’s rubbish- in a small amount of time, e.g. 5 or 10 minutes). Since taking part in NaNoWriMo, I have found the Youtube and Twitter sprints help me a lot to rediscover my creativity. They are also a great way of getting into the heads of my characters (by literally throwing them into every random scenario I can think of).
Choose any scene to work on.
This is advice I have seen and heard a lot from different writers, and I strongly stand by it. When I feel creatively blown out or uninspired, it is often because I’m at a part in the story that is less exciting (I usually completely cave when I reach the middle of a story).
When this happens, I like to completely let go of the rulebook and just work on any scene, beginning, middle or end (I’m a ruthless plotter so I have every single one outlined but you don’t need that). Trust me, I am such a linear writer and at first, this idea completely horrified me, but when I tried it out, it was actually pretty easy to connect the dots (and also gave me greater insight into the story).
Read… a lot.
As a writer, the number one rule of thumb is to read (luckily I literally inhale books then ?). For me, I try to avoid books that are too similar to my own (because otherwise they end up swaying my writing style or characterisation), but that does not mean I avoid the entire genre (I could never ignore fantasy entirely!). In fact, reading lots in the genre you’re writing can be great to immerse yourself in the traditional rules of that genre and the general style of writing.
Finish writing in the middle of a scene.
Like when a reader is on edge and wanting to read on, try to leave yourself on edge and excited to come back to writing. By finishing writing for the day in the middle of a scene, where you have a good idea of what is coming up and what you will be sitting down to write next time, you save yourself the difficulty of convincing yourself to write again (if you have no idea how the next scene will pan out, it’s much harder to hype yourself up to write it).
This is one of my own hard and fast rules (it doesn’t work for everyone, and just like with any writing advice, if it doesn’t work for you, just ignore it). For me, as a terrible perfectionist, if I edit as I go along, I literally cannot stop myself (and then I end up just crying at the screen instead of writing ?).
Some tricks I use to keep my *screaming* inner editor in check are: dimming my screen (seriously, it is so freeing to know you’re making mistakes and just… accept it) or changing my text colour to white. Not caring about having the absolute perfect words, or best dialogue, or exposition (whatever you struggle with) is so freeing. If you worry about this, remember that all a first draft needs to do is *exist*- it can be not great, or even absolute rubbish (I promise you, a lot of my writing is just mush)- it just needs to be there.
Find creativity in the mundane
When it comes to being creative, whether that’s writing, planning blog posts, taking Bookstagram photos or even trying my hand at painting (that never ends well), I always try to spot the tiny moments of creativity in my day. There is so much inspiration surrounding us – in our daily walk, in the garden, at the supermarket (some of my best ideas come to me in the shower) .
So, what I’m trying to say (I think), is that there are little pieces of life and creativity all around us. And if these ideas fail, I always love to go back to my favourite book to bring back that creative spark!
Remember why you write.
Writing can be intensely difficult– sometimes (Ok, most of the time), I really don’t want to pick up my pen or even go near my manuscript. And that’s normal! You don’t have to feel excited to write all the time.
Often, you may feel like you’re having to force the words, but if that becomes ALL the time, maybe it’s time to take a step back and take a break. Remind yourself why you started this book and why you love writing so much. Try to take the pressure off yourself– everything can be edited, but a blank screen cannot!
Did you find this post useful? Will you be implementing the tips in your own writing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or you can connect with me directly on any of my social medias.