How To Return To Writing After a Long-Term Slump

A lot of us were writers in high school. Maybe you had an inspiring Creative Writing teacher or you dedicated yourself to journaling every single day. Writing, perhaps, wasn’t something you did at every free moment, but you found ways to fit it into your schedule. After all, you were a writer.

At any rate, that was my story. But now that I’m in my second semester of college, I can see how the craft could totally get away from me. When Zoom classes end for the day, all I can think about is closing my laptop. And between assigned readings, essays and lengthy textbook chapters, words on a page are the last thing that I want to be thinking about when I get a spare moment. 

Despite this, I miss the joy of writing, not for a term paper or discussion board post, but for myself. In 2021, I’m looking for ways to make it a part of my life again, and hopefully, these tips can bring it back into your routine, too. 

Resolve yourself to write for at least 'x' number of minutes a day.

Old alarm clock with green background Photo by Arash Asghari from Unsplash For me, that translates to 15 minutes of writing, every single day, no exceptions. I tried this at the start of last year and managed to keep it going (for the most part) until May. Some days, you really, really won’t want to write, and some days the words will flow. When I was exhausted, I typed my words, plain and forced, through bleary eyes and tripping fingertips for exactly the allotted fifteen. But other mornings, afternoons or evenings, I spent nearly an hour at my keyboard. 

The idea is to turn writing into a habit. You won’t always write an epic poem or engaging short story. Some sessions might just be a rant or a rambling tale. But you will always write something.

Create your own motivation.

Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels Easier said than done, but try to create an environment that motivates you to get to work. Back home, the wall in front of my desk was filled with sticky notes meant to inspire me. I had quotes from famous authors on writing, bits of praise I’d received for my pieces that warmed me every time I saw them and motivational, if slightly threatening, demands that I “JUST KEEP WRITING.”

Do what works for you. Tell your roommate or your friends that you need them to keep you accountable, set reminders on your phone to find some writing time, forbid yourself from morning coffee or a piece of chocolate in your fridge until the words are on the page.

Join a writer's group.

workplace desk Photo by LUM3N from Pixabay This goes hand-in-hand with finding your motivation. One of the best things I did for myself in high school was joining a group of writers that I could depend on for feedback, motivation and lively discussion. Not only was I more motivated to create, but I was also inspired by the talent around me and sought to be worthy of it.

Writing doesn’t have to be such a solitary act. It can be as simple as joining NaNoWrimo, signing up for a poetry club at your school, a writing reddit page or finding other ways to join the writing community on social media.

Remember that it doesn't have to be good, it just has to be written.

Person sitting on grass writing in journal Photo by Stocksnap on Pixabay

The fastest way to stop me from writing is to say, “I don’t have anything interesting to write!”

That isn’t the point of the exercise. Writer’s block exists when the goal is to write something stunning on the first try. Allow yourself to write trash. On days when your inner critic is really raging, try freewriting, where the sole objective is to keep your hand moving and the words coming, no matter what they sound like.

At the end of the day, writing should be something that you love to do. But if you truly want to improve, to make it a part of your routine, some days it will feel like work. Some days you will not want to do it. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a sign of your dedication as a writer. That’s something to be proud of.

If all else fails, try this video. Works for me every time.

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