Oh yeah. I’ve been there.
Endless hours spent staring at blinking cursors, or guilting yourself because you should be writing. I once spent an entire day listing everything I needed to do, only to not get myself moving on it because of a writing funk. I had to do something else, to try to get out of that writing funk naturally, so every time I started to feel that fogginess, I tried a couple of different things.
Let’s see how they work for you.
It’ll clear your mind.
Step away from your computer or notebook and do a few push ups, or take in a bit of yoga.
Exercise gets the blood flowing in your body and kicks the fog out of your head, like a great gust of clean air.
If you’re feeling frustrated then stand up and get moving. Pump up the tunes, take a walk or jump on the treadmill.
There are a million different things you can do, but I guarantee you that after you feel your heart racing from that awesome workout, the clarity you’ll have will be amazing.
My Choice: I love yoga, but I’m not afraid to jump on the elliptical for 10 minutes or take a walk outside. It clears my mind and I get some fresh air. Just do it.
I stand by this 100%. I saw amazing results – clarity, contentment, awareness, joy, less drama, less worrying about crap that didn’t matter, self-reflection skills, and much more – after 4 months of studying this technique and partaking every day.
My Choice: Insight Timer is a great app that has hundreds of meditations to choose from. Take a 5 minute break and clear your mind. You can also find me on there and we can do this together.
Put your writing away
I always put my writing away once I write the first draft. Stepping away for a few hours, days or even weeks can help. That crappy first version seems like it’s someone else’s work once I take it back out for Round #2 for some major edits.
My Choice: I’ll finish writing something then put it away for 2 weeks. During that time, I’ll step away – only writing in my daily journal – then come back to it and give it another go around. 2 weeks might be too long for you. Try a day and look at your work again.
Write outside your normal spot
Especially if it’s your house.
Writing in the same spot isn’t always best. I read advice all the time about how a writing routine is what you need to succeed, but that’s not necessarily true. Everyone is different, but even if your place to write is in your office or outside on your porch, it’s always good to try new things.
Try going to the library, the park, a coffee shop. Change it up and ideas might come to you that you never even knew you had.
My Choice: I love a good coffee shop. Cliche, I know. My favorite places have a variety of coffee, beer or wine, along with food. I have no choice but to stay there and knock out my writing because there’s no excuse to leave.
I can’t stand routine, so my “non-routine” routine helps a bit.
Get off the computer/cellphone
Most distracting thing ever.
I write all my outlines plus some basic content by hand before typing them up and adding more information to each part. I don’t want the internet to distract me because I know it’s going to happen. Remove those temptations.
My Choice: Put your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode and set it face down, with the ringer off. You don’t need it when you’re writing. Don’t use your computer unless you have to. I always warm up with writing by hand, and get the unfiltered first thoughts out. You don’t need a computer until you get into the nitty-gritty.
Try a TV/video cleanse
I’ve done this a few times and I love it. The first time was a full 7-Day TV detox, which meant no TV, Netflix, Youtube, Amazon – nothing. For a whole week I was only allowed to listen to music or do things that didn’t involve video. It was BRUTAL, but it made me get shit done.
Pro Tip: Try detoxing on the thing that’s distracting you. I’m serious. Cut it out for 7 days and see how strong your willpower is. For the first few days, TV show scenes from 10 years ago were popping in my head, and I really wanted to watch them. The middle was better and by the end I had everything done. I just wanted to watch TV because I actually wanted to, not because I’d been procrastinating on other things. It wasn’t compulsive anymore.
Give it a shot. Tell me how it goes.
Take a trip – a change of scenery
It doesn’t have to cost a lot or take too much time. I took a road trip an hour away and ended up loving it. A change in your weekly routine can open your mind up to new ideas.
Try a cheap trip or take a weekend somewhere you want to go. It’s not expensive if you do it right. Going to NYC for my birthday in 2016 got me out of my head and opened my mind to new ideas.
I got out of being stuck, and you can, too.
Pro Tip: Make it as awesome as you want it, but don’t let fear hold you back. It’s just money. You can make it again. It’s only a plane ride that’s over pretty quick. Take a leap and let your writing flow from your experiences.
Meet up with writers
I’m not the best when it comes to social situations, but meeting up with other writers can definitely light the spark.
Whether we admit it or not, we like to talk about our ideas and get feedback on them. It’s scary, but we want that response to see if we should even pursue it. When I went to a meetup in Nashville, I met some great writers (and some not so great writers/people). I saw their successes, their ideas, their drive, and it made me want to write more.
Pro Tip: Find a meetup in your area or get together with some creative friends. It doesn’t have to only be writers. I get together with graphic designer friends of mine and their sheer presence gives me energy on my projects. Just be careful that you’re not surrounding yourself with people with negative vibes.
Talk about your writing to people
They might inspire you.
It might not be your friends or your family. It could be an old friend or cousin that sparks your flame.
When I went to NYC, I met up with my long-lost aunt, and my mom’s childhood friend. They didn’t know much about me, so talking to them about my writing over drinks was fantastic. It inspired me to take a chance and look at publications in NYC.
Pro Tip: List some old friends that you might want to talk to again. Maybe you have a cousin or aunt that you know you can talk to without judgement. Tell them about your stories and see what they say. They might have ideas of how to get published, continue your story or just words of inspiration.
I write everyday in a crappy, bright orange, Mead Five Star notebook that sits by my bed. Every night before bed, I just write. Freewriting opens the mind and basically brain dumps any ideas you have. If you feel funky and literally nothing is coming to you, then write that down. Keep your hand moving, and eventually your brain will get with the picture. Your muscles will remember to write, even when your brain is getting in the way.
Pro Tip: Take 5 minutes and write anything that comes into your mind. Put a timer on it if you have to, but just do it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away and free write anything on your mind. Maybe something’s bothering you or the idea you have isn’t connecting the way you want. Freewriting can help
Write about something new
Let your curiosity carry you
I have a lot of big novel ideas. Romance stories, mysteries and short story pieces, but sometimes my brain just won’t work and I need some fresh blood.
Are you curious about something? Coffee? Gardening? Aliens?
Write about it.
Even if it’s just research, writing about it can open your mind to new story ideas. Your character can explore that idea in their storyline.
Pro Tip: List 25+ things you’re curious about. Now take one of those and list 10+ questions you have about it. Now write about it. Research if you have to, but don’t get distracted. You can write fiction about that subject, where you describe its origin or a story about how coffee was actually created by the government to control the masses.
Just go with it. Keep all the ideas you have, even if they seem crazy.
Learn a new subject
When I wanted to learn about dragons, I took time to research them. I explored literature, legends connected to them, and traits that are commonly found in stories. When I wanted to know how creativity worked, I studied articles, listened to podcasts and brought my own questions to the game.
Pro Tip: What interests you? When your mind gets a workout, it begs for more, just like your body. It might get tired, but that’s just a sign to keep going, while taking care of yourself. List a few things that you want to learn about, but never got a chance to, and take the next two weeks to learn about it.
This interest might spark your writing career or the next novel idea you have.
Then write your thoughts about specific parts of the book. I mark the sentences or sections in a book that interest me with a tiny post it note so I can refer to it later and write my thoughts on it. This usually happens more in nonfiction, rather than fiction books, but it could work for both.
Any writer you ask will tell you that if you want to find success in writing then you need to read. It’s our fuel. Reading is a pleasurable act for me and a mode of research. Even though I enjoy the fiction and nonfiction books I read – with no expectations placed on them to rock my world – I still take notes. I recommend you do the same.
Pro Tip: Use mini post-it note tabs to mark a sentence or spot you find interesting in the book. Use post-it notes to write your ideas and save that page. Later, go back and explore those thoughts in your journal. I have a business journal for the books that spark ideas for my business or I’ll write the ideas down in my personal journal.
Give it a shot and see what happens.
Hopefully these options can pull you out of your writing funk. I know how much it sucks, which is why I’m a big fan of these tricks. I also have another blog post you can read with some of my favorite writing exercises if you’re feeling frustrated.
Try them out, even if your mind is telling you not to, then come back and tell me how it went.
What do you do to get out of a writing funk? Leave me a comment below.