Don’t Stop Now: Tips for Getting Your Writing Momentum Back

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The turbulent post-election atmosphere gripping our nation is like nothing our country has experienced before. Many of us creative types are finding it hard to write at a time like this. The coming-of-age YA novel that you were planning to finish this year suddenly doesn’t seem so important anymore.

If you feel that your current project isn’t relevant or you can’t focus on your writing, know that now is not the time to stop. Here are some tips to find the stamina you might have lost.

Take Time Away from Social Media and the News

One news notification (e.g., AP’s “7 Earth-size worlds found orbiting a nearby star could hold life, NASA says”) can send you down an hour-long black hole of Internet research. At the pace the news cycle is running these days, we must set limits of consumption. Otherwise, we’ll do too much consuming and not enough doing.

Do you know how many hours you spend on your device per day? Seeing an actual number can really put your device usage into perspective. What? I spent 3 hours and 32 minutes on my phone yesterday? All the things I could have done with that time… Consider downloading Moment, an iOS app that allows you to track how much you use your phone or tablet each day, see which apps you use the most, and set daily limits for yourself. Freedom (different pricing plans available) works across multiple devices to block Internet distractions, helping you stay focused and be more productive. To deal with the panic attack you’ll experience when you pick up your smartphone after a long break, try downloading—just kidding, there’s no app for that.

But in all seriousness, if you’re feeling frustrated about not being able to write, track your device usage for a week and then try scheduling time for checking social media and catching up with the news—and commit to sticking with your schedule!

Go to Local Literary Events and Support Other Writers

Being surrounded by other likeminded folk can help you get back into the groove. Check your local bookstore or library for upcoming readings and events.

Recharge

Take your dog for a walk, go to an exercise class, spend time in nature, read a book, listen to a podcast, get together with friends. We must make time to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others, which leads me to my next point…

Be Engaged

At the end of January, I attended a talk between Michael Lewis (author of The Blind Side, Moneyball, The Big Short, The Undoing Project, and more) and NPR’s Hanna Rosin. Lewis said that, right now, our society is being tested. Years from now, when his grandchildren ask him about this time in our history, they are going to want to know what he did. He then went on to list the actions he’s taken since the election.

The thing is, knowing that certain causes, organizations, or groups of people are in trouble but doing nothing about it will eat away at you. Pick two or three causes that are important to you, and find ways to get involved. If you’re not sure where to get started or need some inspiration, search the #smallacts hashtag on Twitter to see what others are doing.

Get Back to Writing

If you’ve been obsessing over the news as I have been, you might be feeling mentally exhausted. The desire to write may be gone because you think your plot or subject is trivial. Author and illustrator Riad Sattouf said, “It’s very difficult to invent shocking things, because everything is shocking now.” If you’ve taken the steps I have listed above, then you should be in place to begin working against the obstacles that are holding you back. Think about your purpose for writing. Is it a way to channel your emotions? A way to escape? A way to teach others something new? A way to make a political statement? Don’t worry if you suddenly feel the need to put aside a project and start a new one or refocus your current project. There’s no telling what people will say about the writing created during this time, but there won’t be anything to say if we don’t get back to work.

As writers, we peer under the masks of things for a living and that skill is more important now than ever. Art’s duty to criticize the bad and protect the good is infinitely more important in times of darkness. —Philip Elliot, Editor-in-Chief, Into the Void

Further Reading

{image via Aidan Meyer}

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