It’s the start of a new year, a time where there’s pressure to feel inspired, positive, and full of hope.
Of course, the start of a new decade represents a fantastic opportunity. We can do things differently and pursue our author goals with a new sense of vigor and purpose.
But what if you’re not in that state of mind?
Sometimes, it can be awkward to admit we’re feeling out of touch with the zeitgeist.
If your thoughts and feelings are in a more negative place than those around you, two choices present themselves.
The first is to fake it until you make it. To put out a positive, energetic vibe – even if that’s the last thing you’re feeling inside.
The other is to take a good look at the root cause of your unhappiness and take action to address it.
This post takes the second option. We’re going to take a look at four of the most common woes authors face and offer some practical steps to address them.
When You’re Feeling Uninspired
As authors, we’re under a lot of pressure to feel creative and inspired.
After all, we often identify strongly with our work. Writing isn’t just work we do and forget about. It’s part of our identity. We are creatives. We are writers.
So when inspiration is lacking, it can be more than an annoyance. It can cause a serious dent in our self-esteem and mood.
Aside from the personal implications, a lack of creativity can seriously hamper our work. A lack of inspiration can quickly turn into a lack of ability to pay the bills.
If you’re feeling uninspired, here are several solutions you can take action on today.
- Address your physical needs. Sometimes, we can overthink our lack of inspiration. This is particularly the case for writers. Our creative and active minds are inclined to intellectualize almost every problem. However, the first step is to address your physical needs. Have you slept? Eaten well? Drank enough water? Sometimes, addressing our basic physical needs is enough to feel inspired again.
- Feed your muse. If you’re sure your lack of inspiration can’t be fixed by something simple like a glass of water or a power nap, you can address the intellectual side. Consume inspirational material, such as a book about writing, some quotes about the craft, or the life story of an author you admire. By focusing our attention outside of ourselves, our inspiration often returns.
- Recall better times. It can be easy to get too stuck in the present moment. When we are struggling to write, the struggle can be all we see. Chances are, you haven’t always felt this way. Take the time to focus on a period where writing was easier for you. This reassures you, both consciously and subconsciously, that things won’t always be this way.
While a lack of inspiration from time to time is inevitable, accepting it isn’t. If you’re feeling uninspired, don’t wallow. Take action, and you’ll be writing again before you know it.
When Writing Is A Repetitive Chore
Does writing sometimes feel about as appealing as pulling out your own teeth?
This can be a difficult thing to admit. After all, as authors, we are in a privileged position. We are doing something we love. Compared to a lot of other work out there, we are very fortunate.
That doesn’t change the fact that writing can feel incredibly boring sometimes. However, it’s only as boring as we let it be.
If you’re feeling bored or frustrated with your writing, you can choose to take charge and regain your fascination. Here’s how.
- Write something different. Writing too much of the same thing, time and time again can naturally lead to a lack of interest. But coming up with something new to write can be next to impossible when we’re stressed and uninspired. Take the mental labor out of the equation and let a writing prompt guide you to a refreshing new challenge.
- Use a new tool. Sometimes, you won’t have the luxury of writing something entirely new and refreshing. Maybe you need to complete a book project, and you can’t justify taking the time to work on something else. In such cases, simply switching up your writing tool can make the task less boring. Consider using a different app, or even writing by hand for an hour. Anything to break the monotony and keep your mind engaged.
- Try a new environment. One thing that works well for myself, and a lot of other authors in my circle, is switching up the place I write in. This can be as simple as a different room in the house, or even venturing out into public. A new environment is often enough to jolt your brain out of its rut and make writing feel fresh and exciting again.
When you’re stressed about hitting your intended word count, writing can feel like the least enjoyable thing on Earth. You owe it to yourself to break out of the rut and regain your love for this beautiful craft of ours.
When Everything Feels Overwhelming
Have you ever felt swamped and overwhelmed by writing and life in general?
It’s a horrible feeling. We are very much aware of the multitude of things we need to do but unable to put them in any kind of logical order. When we don’t know where to start, we often procrastinate, in turn making things worse.
While there’s no perfect solution to overwhelm, it’s important to address it. Burying your head in the sand, while tempting, is the worst thing to do.
So what are some practical steps you can take when things feel too much to deal with?
- See the big picture. Sometimes, our feeling of overwhelm stems from not having a big-picture view of a writing project. Taking the time to take a step back, zoom out, and see the whole project can help. Consider using an outlining technique, or checking out the process of another author who managed to complete a similar project to the one you’re pursuing.
- Break it down to small steps. As much as seeing the big picture is essential, breaking things down to a granular level can also help with overwhelm. If things feel too much to face, make them as small as possible. For example, rather than telling yourself to research a chapter, list the precise steps you’ll take, for example, finding three relevant sources, reading each for an hour, and making at least 300 words of notes on each. Or rather than finding a story idea, think about its parts. Even completing the smallest tasks will eventually add up to a meaningful whole.
- Perspective. Overwhelm and isolation are best buddies. They can become a vicious cycle. When we’re overwhelmed, we often isolate ourselves, and our isolation increases our negative feelings. Break the cycle. Take a walk. Help someone with their problems. Spend time around loved ones and pets. This proactive approach to seeking perspective can help us break free of the feeling of overwhelm.
While struggling with any of the above issues is never going to be pleasant, there’s solace to be found in the realization that you’re not alone. Others have overcome these challenges, and you can too.
No matter what you happen to be struggling with, I wish you the strength to overcome it and every success as an author in 2020.