How to break a slump

How often do we find ourselves struggling to progress in what we’re doing, be it work, sport, hobby, or writing? When an athlete known for his ability to score is suddenly not scoring points or goals, then it is noted that he’s in a slump. When a writer struggles to put words on paper, or thinks everything written is garbage, he is in a slump.

The reasons for the slump are actually not important. Part of the reason for a writing slump or any other is the over-thinking aspect of dealing with it. We go round and round in our minds about why we’re struggling and how untimely it is and how miserable it is, etc.

I know how it is because I just emerged from an extended writer’s slump. Why did it happen? How many reasons or excuses do I have created? How much did I analyze it?

Doesn’t matter.

The solution was simple.

I sat down, opened up my work in progress, The Lost Tower, re-read the previous chapter and started writing.

Sounds easy, right?

Not.

I had to just write. Not think AND write. I had to force off the half of my mind that wants to edit every keystroke that comes from my fingers as they dance across the keyboard of my laptop.

I’m writing the first draft and thus need to keep the editor mind on ice for a few more months.

That is the trick I used. I gave myself permission to write an imperfect first draft. I told my editor mind to take a summer vacation and to leave me alone.

I wrote in half a week more than I’d managed in the past six weeks.

Slump over.

What are your slump stories and solutions?

–Mark

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3 responses to “How to break a slump

  • butchie34

    I think it’s important for all writers to find out how to break their periods of slump because no matter how big or small you are, you are no doubt going to go through these periods where it feels impossible to write.

    But if you can break through once, you know you can do it again in the future.

  • Stephen A. Watkins

    Agreed; we all go through these periods, it’s true. And I think it affects each of us differently.

    At the end of the day, I suspect that before we can get back on the horse and keep riding, so to speak, we just have to let whatever causes are behind our slumps to run their course. If there’s some underlying issue preventing us from writing, I don’t know that we’re going to be able to break out of that slump until that issue is worked out. I don’t think this always happens in a conscious or controllable way.

  • Mark J. Taylor

    It’s very easy to analyze the slump after its over. Hindsight being 20/20 and all that. It’s a little more difficult during the slump. I actually knew what my problem was, but wasn’t willing to reconcile the cause in my mind until last week. Instead, I let the Writer’s Distractions that I posted about recently take over and before I knew it, I’d gone over a week with not a single word. written. Not exactly the productivity level that helps once finish an epic fantasy novel in some form of reasonable time frame.

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