Writer’s Block – Pushing Past the Burnout

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.

States of Writing

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?

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9 thoughts on “Writer’s Block – Pushing Past the Burnout

  1. Christina, I think responding to writing prompts is a good idea. I also like to go back and do a bit of editing on what I’ve written already. Sometimes the characters call me back and then I can add more words. Other times I need a complete break from words. Yesterday I worked on some art.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

  2. Reblogged this on The Wordy Rose and commented:

    Day 23 – “W” Writer’s Block

    Well isn’t this fitting. I’m finding myself at a complete loss for motivation as it pertains to writing. Monday is already proving to kick me in the ass, as Mondays tend to do.

    After a weekend away, visiting my sister in her new cottage in Eastern Oregon for her birthday, I’m back at home and find myself crazy busy both at work and in my personal life, scrambling to catch up.

    On this day for the A-Z blogging challenge, I selected “Writer’s Block” for “W” and completely forgot that I had recently written a post on this very subject. In the essence of time, I’m going to reblog this original post, with the questions posed still applicable:

    “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?”

    As I will be responding to comments, and am writing a little blurb on this topic for my reblog, I figured that I will still be meeting the “quota” for writing SOMETHING today for the challenge. 🙂

    Happy Monday!!! (Happy once I pump some coffee into my veins….)

  3. I recently created a “prompt box” that has really kickstarted my writing again. I wake up every morning excited and energized to draw the word/phrase of the day out of the box and let my imagination flow as soon as I get up in the morning. It’s fabulous.

  4. Writing prompts are an excellent way to not only write on a particular subject, but also a good way to get constructive feedback, as in a writing group.

  5. I really like the cartoon. It says it all. 🙂 I use my journal to get by writer’s block. My previous day becomes the prompts. And then I use writing at a specific time every day. Having the advantage of being retired, I can pick that time. Morning works best. Three to four hours usually does me in on the creative part. But there is always marketing, photographs, research and editing to fill in the down time. Dealing with ‘my writing really sucks’ is tough. I keep kind words that people have said about my writing around for when they are really needed. 🙂 –Curt

    1. That is a great way to look at prompts, journaling and your previous day as the prompt! I may give that a shot the next time I want to/know I need to write, but am at a loss for what to write about.

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