Project Management for Writers
As rewarding as our job is, it is mentally exhausting and incredibly taxing. Other than the fact that it’s very time-demanding, it requires you to be in a certain headspace, with no interruptions, whatsoever. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to get into that state of mind, and when you aren’t, what you usually do in an hour can take you three times as long.
It’s always easy to find excuses for our lack of productivity when it comes to writing. We blame it on clutter, our families, and day jobs (if you have one). It’s easier to think and tell yourself that something is holding you back from pursuing your career in writing or getting back to it. The truth is that none of these things are holding you back as a writer. It’s not your high school teacher who told you to give up on writing or your lack of available time and resources.
It’s not you either. You’re not holding yourself back as a writer, even if you can’t stop comparing yourself to other successful writers in the field. Your procrastination is not an issue either, as long as you’re able to meet the deadlines. So, what is it that’s holding you back from writing one book after the other?
It’s your writer’s block. You’re probably fresh out of ideas and have no idea what to write next. Fortunately, we are here to tell you how to move past this dreadful stage of stagnation that every writer experiences at least once in their lifetime.
How to Get Out of Your Creative Rut
As you were searching for solutions, you were probably thinking of all the possibilities holding you back from writing your book, article, or blog post. If you think about it, you wouldn’t be here, seeking help, if you knew what to write. Instead, you would already be working on your next piece. You’d work it out, regardless of the endless possibilities for excuses that you can come up with.
You’d jot down ideas on your phone’s notes app as you attend your kid’s soccer practice, or scribble down random thoughts on your grocery list before you head to the store. You know you’d get it done in one way or another, which brings us to our next point.
Are You Really in a Rut?
No matter how stuck you think you are, you aren’t in a rut. You aren’t spiraling down the feared “writer’s block.” If you want to get writing, you need to change your mindset. You’re either writing or not writing, but you can’t be in the middle of the road. Writing is an action or a state. Just like walking, sitting, eating, or drinking. You are either doing it or you aren’t. Sure, you can be tired, but this wouldn’t stop you from walking if you wanted to. You may not be thirsty or hungry, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t drink or eat. The only thing that is stopping you from taking any of these actions is your intuition.
It’s exactly the same with writing. Your creative juices may not be flowing, but you can still write. If you wait around for something to magically click in your mind, the chances are that it isn’t going to happen any time soon. This is why you need to take matters into your own hands and keep trying to write, even if you only end up with a single sentence.
If you’re already working on something, you need to expose yourself to it as much as possible. Make it a daily habit to show up in front of your work. This way, that “click” will eventually show up too. It may be hard to believe, but you can accomplish a lot just by exposing yourself to your work. This is the case even as you wait for the feeling of inspiration. You will get bored if you just stare at your drafts, and that is when the words will start to flow. Even if you don’t come up with anything good, you at least have a base to work with and the process of writing with that base can be enough to get the creativity flowing again.
Once, I came across a post titled, “Let Your Child Stay Bored,” or something along those lines. It was encouraging parents to stop granting their children screen time, no matter how bored they claimed to be. When a child is bored, they will eventually find something to do. They will play pretend, do crafts, sing, or dance. Boredom sparks creativity. Treat your brain as if it were a child. Don’t sit around and watch TV, waiting for something to change.
The modern world is incredibly fast paced. Even when we’re not drowning in chores, replying to emails, or looking after the kids, there is always something happening. We’re often receiving texts, scrolling through happy, sad, promotional, and scary social media posts, and watching a TV show all at once. It only makes sense that we feel overwhelmed and distracted all the time, which only makes it harder to focus on our writing.
Why don’t you try to disconnect and see if something changes?
It could be your workflow interacting with the dynamics of the digital age that is burning you out. Either way, you need to listen to your body and give it the rest that it needs. Your mind will not cooperate unless you take a break and allow yourself to recharge.
Write down a to-do list of everything that you need to do for your upcoming or current writing process. You don’t need to prioritize these tasks, just arrange them from easiest to hardest. Find something that you don’t hate doing or a re-entry point that sounds somewhat appealing, and pick it up from there. It doesn’t matter if you’re not writing in the correct order, so long as there’s progress in the project itself. Remember that you’re trying to get yourself back into the process, slowly but surely, while re-instilling your confidence.
You probably realize that reading can be the most therapeutic activity out there. You may have not been able to make the time for it lately, but you should try to prioritize reading, at least for the time being. Besides being a writer’s best tool when it comes to learning and growth, it can help you get inspired. You can read about anything you want. Whether it’s a book you love, one that you’ve been meaning to read, a book about creativity, or one about writing, it is a great way to find your muse.
Every writer has found themselves in your place at least once before, so make sure to not let your current state get to your head. You need to stick with the entire process and trust that you will come out of it sooner rather than later.
How to Write Regardless of Anything
There are things in our lives that we just can’t control—the neighbor’s dog, your aggravating boss, or your cluttered desk (okay, maybe this is one thing that you can control but don’t really have the time for). These are all things that will most certainly get in the way of your writing, but they’re definitely not holding you back.
You may never find the peace and quiet that you’re looking for, nor will you magically find your pen writing on a piece of paper after you spend hours trying to create the right atmosphere for writing. You’ve tricked yourself into believing that decluttering your life is the ultimate solution. Many of the world’s renowned writers have to find their chairs amidst the clutter in their office. Their space is flooded with endless manuscripts and drafts, but this doesn’t stop them from getting their words down.
There are some things in your life that you can’t help but tend to. If your child’s academics are on the line or if your elderly relative is not feeling well, you’re going to have to step in and help. Decorating your office and putting everything away, when you’re already incredibly busy, can wait. Challenge yourself not to look at or hear any distractions. Don’t mind the clutter, the noise, or the inconveniences surrounding you.
The goal here is to learn to write regardless of anything. We humans are inclined to come up with very convincing excuses for everything. No matter how many distractions you resolve to ignore, your mind will only come up with more. Your only solution is to make the best out of your current situation and get yourself to focus on the task at hand as best as you can. Only after you finally get some ideas and take some time off for yourself, can you tend to these minor issues.
Writing, even when you have nothing to write about, can sound a lot like self-discipline. You have to change your mindset and work around your brain. You need to do anything except give in to the excuses that your mind manages to come up with. The thing you need to realize is that the one thing that’s holding you back as a writer is your unwillingness to take the steps that ward off your “creative rut.”