Writing is a fulltime job, and often a job that must be done alongside a normal 9 to 5er. But sometimes life gets in the way of our dreams. So what do you do when you get derailed from writing? Maybe you submitted a bunch of pieces to magazines, or maybe even submitted a full novel for publication, and it was all rejected. Maybe you’ve been dealing with a writers block so thick and wide that even Trump would be proud. Or maybe you’ve just given up, for whatever personal or mental reasons. Well, the only thing to do is to get back on the horse and keep going.
Getting discouraged is part of life. It’s impossible to ride the high the whole way. Sometimes that energy will fall into a valley, but it’s not impossible to try again. It’s never too late to continue. Here are some tips to get back into the game:
- Read some shit
- Often reading something in the same vein as we would like to produce gives us a motivational kick start. Want to write a self-help book? Go and read one, or five. See what works and what doesn’t work. Want to write a YA-fiction? Go and read one. It can be a new release or an old classic that once inspired you when you were a young adult yourself.
- Write some shit
- The only way something will make it from the world of idealization or fantasy into reality is the put in the work to get it done. This means sitting down at your computer, or with pen and paper, and writing. It doesn’t matter if you decide to do this in a kitschy café while wearing a beret, or in the privacy of your own bedroom or study with no pants on and questionable pornography playing in the background. Both of which would probably get you some weird looks and a label or two, but you know what? Who cares. As long as you are putting out the productivity, something is going to happen. Writing is a slow process. It’s one of the art forms that many people think is mostly BS. “Oh, you’re writing a novel? So you’re lazy and have no life aspirations, is that what you’re saying?” And that may well be true, if you aren’t actually doing the work. But if you are actively working towards cranking out words like your life depends on it (which it does, in some cases), then who cares what anyone thinks? As long as you have a product to show at the end of the day, then you keep on chasing your dreams, little dreamer.
- Research some shit
- Maybe your writing career has come screeching to a halt because you’re lacking some motivation, or you’re hung up on a detail that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Guess what, we’ve all been there. “I don’t know what to name my main character. I can’t start writing until he has a name.” Call him Henry and get on with it! You can always go back and edit names, or locations, or even facts that you aren’t 100% sure about. And if you feel that you cannot move forward on a book because you’ve not done enough research, then haul your ass to your library and start digging. Hop on your internet browser and fall down a few rabbit holes. And when you have all the facts you need, go back to it and create something that doesn’t exist.
- Edit some old shit
- So last year you finished the first draft, or second or third draft of a novel and since then it’s been sitting there collecting dust and serving as a decorative bookend. That’s great! That means it’s had time to ruminate in your thoughts. Or more realistically you’ve forgotten about it entirely; the plot, the characters, the shitty ending. But eventually you’re going to have to go back and look at how terrible the writing actually is, so that you can work it into something you’re proud of. Just because you finished an old piece doesn’t mean it’s done. It’s not done until it’s published, and even then, there’s still room for improvement. So dig out those old tomes and break out a sexy red pen and mark that shit up like a sadist devaluing a masochist. Your novel will thank you afterwards. (Just remember to practice aftercare by petting your manuscript and telling it that it’s beautiful and special and that you love it anyways)
- Listen to some inspiring shit
- Realistically you can’t be writing all the time. You have to do stupid things like drive in your car and take showers and eat food. “What a waste of time!” you’re thinking. Wrong! Every moment of the day that you find yourself alone with your thoughts is a wonderful opportunity to be filling your mind with wonderful inspiration! Have you ever listened to a Ted Talk? Or podcasts? There are so many sources for inspiration from people who have gone from nothing to successful. These people know what they’re talking about! Listen to them! Let their wisdom fill your bosom with so much motivation that you feel like you might pop! Does every waking moment need to go into being productive? No, of course not. But if you’re anything like me, being unproductive just sort of leaves you feeling like a wonderful waste of space (as discussed in point 2). And what I like to do in my free time is fill my mind with positive words and positive thoughts so that I don’t end up sitting there saying “why bother?” or “what’s the point?”. You started this for a reason! Don’t forget that reason!
- Clean up your shit
- Speaking of positivity, one of the most important things I’ve ever heard in my life was “declutter, distress”. That was it. Pretty short advice, but it stuck with me. Maybe you’re one of those people who can work really well under a heap of dirty clothes and old pizza crumbs, but you know what? Not everyone can. And if you are one of those people who is fine living in your old human filth, more power to you. You do you. However, I find that often when I am trying to do work when there is shit everywhere is a huge distraction. I find myself thinking about the dishes I need to clean up rather than the murder mystery that should be unfolding on the pages. Or I think about how I should definitely be doing laundry instead of freewriting. That sort of thinking isn’t productive. And yeah, you might get some work done, but think of how much better it would be with a clear mind, a clear unstressed mind! Oh how wonderful that would feel! And if you’re one of those people who just cannot bring themselves to clean anything up, do yourself a favor and go to your library to work on your writing, or some other neutral environment where there aren’t 10,000 things to distract you. Just a suggestion. Again, if you are one of those people who function under messy conditions, more power to you. I just hope you aren’t writing a book on personal hygiene.
Any other suggestions for getting back into the writing game? I’d love to hear from you. Oh, and if you’re reading this, go write something. Write a sentence, write a paragraph. I see you, and I’m judging you.