It happens to the best of us. We go into a new project with the very best of intentions, with a plan, an outline, loads of superb ideas, some shiny new pens, and the lines of a perfectly blank notebook or the bright white screen of your computer staring back at you, begging to be filled. I have always been a bit of a binger when it comes to writing. I will outline in a java induced fervor in every free, waking moment I have; anxiously waiting for the clock to strike 5 so I can rush home and lock myself into my office, surrounded by shelves of books, piles of notes, and pictures tacked to the hutch of my desk, the contents of which scream out at me, inspiring the most creative part of myself to finish writing their story.
With all great binges come the crash. Stage 4 below outlines this phase that hits me after I get a good batch of writing completed and start to feel the dreaded effects of the burnout. After days, weeks, sometimes months of pure binge-writing bliss, I start to awaken from the spell I had been under and the thought of writing another word seems physically painful. Any and everything I continue to attempt to write seems to be written by a 1st grader, and I begin to second guess the previous bits of genius I had created.
Though I still fall into this brutal pattern from time to time, I try to alleviate this period of burnout and writer’s crash by writing on a semi-regular schedule, jotting down ideas and observations as I see them, and engaging in various writing exercises to keep the creative juices flowing. One of the exercises my writing group engages in (when we don’t completely digress, of course) is writing prompts. I found a lovely writing prompt book at a local, used bookstore that is full of quotes, photos, ideas, etc. I hadn’t participated in prompted/timed writing since high school! This exercise I find particularly useful in that it forces you to write SOMETHING and keeps you from falling into a writing slump.
How do you push past phases of writers block or periods of self doubt? Do you have any routines you engage in when you find yourself lacking motivation and ideas to help push you out of your writing funk?