Getting Over the Hump and Fixing the Writing Slump! (By Leah Anderson, P.O.W.E.R. Consultant)

 

Getting Over the Hump and Fixing the Writing Slump!

By: Leah Anderson, P.O.W.E.R. Consultant

 

Dr. Goodson recently stated in an email that she “hoped we were having a beautiful writing day.” After reading it, I asked myself, “Am I having a beautiful writing day?” My answer was no. I then asked myself, “When was the last time I had a beautiful writing day?” My answer was September 4, 2013. Specific I know, but that was last day that I remember feeling on top of the world when it came to my writing. I had finished a project, sent it off, and remembered feeling accomplished and satisfied.

 

It was a project where I felt like I had completed it using the principles that we teach and practice as P.O.W.E.R consultants. I wrote regularly, logged my time, sought out and received regular feedback, and finished it in a timely manner with minimal stress. Since this project, however, it has been almost TWO MONTHS since I have felt good about a writing experience.

 

Dr. Goodson’s brief comment at the end of the email, led to an immense amount of reflection on my part. I asked myself,

“Am I writing every day?”

“Am I logging my writing?”

“Am I receiving regular feedback on my writing?”

Sadly, my answer was no to all of these questions.  Finally, I asked myself one last question,  “Have I been binge writing more frequently?”

 

Frustratingly and embarrassingly, my answer was yes. It became clear from this brief reflection, that since my project, I had fallen off the writing wagon! I had lost a lot of my motivation, decreased in productivity, and was no longer following the P.O.W.E.R principles of writing that I believed in with all my heart. It was clear that I was in a writing slump!

 

Recently as I was browsing the website, Write it sideways: Writing advice from a fresh perspective, and I came across a blog on writing slumps. In a post by Jessica Hill, she says,

 

“Writing is similar to being on a never-ending roller coaster. We soar up to the highest highs and enjoy the view for a moment before plunging back down to the lows with our stomachs in our throats. There, we hang around while looking ahead for a way to the top of the next hill.”

 

Clearly, my stomach is in my throat as I hang around at the bottom of the coaster waiting for a way to the top of the next hill. Somewhat consoling is knowing I am not alone in this feeling as every writer goes through slumps.

 

These slumps may come from a lack of motivation, a rejection that was difficult to get over, a lack of confidence in one’s abilities, or feeling overwhelmed by the number of projects and quickly approaching deadlines. This is the time of year when slumps are likely to happen, yet this is also the time when productivity is the most important. Slumps happen, but one has the choice to stay at the bottom of the roller coaster or work to reach the top of the next hill. Admitting the said slump is the first step, and pulling oneself out of the slump is the second.

 

So how does one overcome the writing slump and reach the top of the next hill? It’s simple: Go back to the basics and go back to what we know.

 

  • If you are not writing regularly, make sure to schedule your writing time as if it is a meeting that you can’t miss. Treat it as a sacred period of time that can’t be interrupted. Rather than TRYING to fit it in each day, sit down at the beginning of each week or month and enter your writing time into your calendar and keep that schedule. Don’t schedule other meetings during your writing time; instead, close your door and put up a sign to let people know that you are not to be interrupted.
     
  • If you are not logging your writing, make it part of your writing routine that you open up your log at the very beginning of each writing session, and keep it open until you finish the session. It is difficult to try and remember how much time you spent on what projects, and on what days. Keep it open for the entire session and don’t consider your session done until you have logged the time you finished.
     
  • If you find yourself binge writing, set a timer that keeps you accountable and forces you to take a break. It is easy to get in the zone and just keep going, but the timer is an instant reminder, telling you to stop, breathe, and take a mental break. If you are worried about taking too long of a break, set the timer again for ten minutes and get back to work when the timer goes off.
     
  • Establish or reestablish a support system by finding a writing group or reconnecting with one you have previously worked with. It is a lot easier to be productive when those whom you trust are holding you accountable. Whether it is a group of people you write with regularly, or simply someone you send your writing log to at the end of each week, having a support system is crucial. You do not have to travel this journey alone!
     
  • If you are having trouble getting motivated, find good pieces of writing to read, go back and read some of your best work or simply read about writing.

 

Writing slumps happen! After being on top of the hill, we often plunge down and find ourselves fighting to get to the top. While it is tempting to stay in a slump, we have the power to reach the top once again! Getting to the top doesn’t take big changes, it takes simple, small steps to increase our productivity and feel good about our writing again. Check in with yourself periodically to see if you are in a slump, and if you are, do what you need to do to get over the hump, and enjoy the view from the top of the hill!