Bring Back that Lovin’ Feeling–What to Do When You Feel Burned Out

In the spirit of Valentines Day (which is tomorrow, btw), we are going to talk about a different sort of love…our LOVE for writing. We are already six weeks into 2012, and the New Year’s Resolutions are long forgotten, dulled by the screams of children racing through our house or the demands of a nagging day job.

Perhaps this was the year you vowed to take that novel more seriously, and you set out with bold promises of daily word count. The first week of January, you were off like a shot. The creativity was flowing, and you couldn’t remember a time you felt so alive. You might have even wondered why you put this off so long! Fingers flying across the keyboard, you laughed in the face of all your naysayers.

Now? Six weeks in?

You’ve lost that loving feeling! Whoa, that loooving feeling. Bring back that looooving feeling cuz it’s gone, gone, gone….whooooaaah.

Okay, I promise not to sing anymore.

Maybe what was so exciting and fun a month ago, now feels more like slogging through a rice paddy wearing ankle weights, snow shoes and a lead-lined Snuggie. I feel your pain. When you hit that mental wall, what can you do to push past and find that same kind of energy?

Here are some tips to help.

1.  Recognize that stalling is normal.

When we start off with a new sparkly idea, it is like a first date that goes really well. We spend every spare second dreaming of our next time together, and every moment apart is torture. But, like the dating world, the one month point with our new project marks a transition in our relationship. This is the point we often ask, Can I commit for the long haul? ‘Til “published” do we part? Be encouraged. Just because we don’t get giddy every time we think of our work in progress in no way means that something is wrong. It just means we have an opportunity to dig in and go deeper. This is no longer a fling, a wild fleeting affair. It’s a commitment. That’s a good thing.

2.  Revisit the plan.

There is a saying we used all the time when I was in sales. Fail to plan and plan to fail. Many writers (I’ve been guilty) just take off writing without any prior preparation. It is usually about the 30,000 word mark that this initial failure to plot starts becoming clear. We stare at our screen and realize our story is so complicated the reader is going to need a GPS and a team of sherpas to navigate our plot. Heck, WE barely even understand what’s going on, and it’s OUR story!

What went wrong?

Maybe we should have spent a tad more time plotting. We have a choice. Keep writing, or stop and make a plan. Often, if we will just go back to the original idea and construct even a basic outline, we can easily see where we got off track. Think of it like taking a wrong turn on a road trip. We can keep driving and hope to stumble across a familiar interstate, but the better idea might be to drag out that AAA map we ignored in the beginning because we wanted to be “spontaneous.”

Frequently, when we hit a mental wall in our writing, it is because our subconscious is shouting, “You took a wrong turn!” If we will listen and retrace our steps, we will be cooking down the Inspiration Interstate in no time. Even pantsers can benefit from writing down the main idea and the fundamental narrative points.

3.  Revisit our goals. 

At the beginning of every new year, a condition called RDD sweeps the globe, and writers are particularly vulnerable. What is RDD? Reality Deficit Disorder. I don’t know if it’s the champagne or peer pressure that makes us believe we can lose thirty pounds, build our own California Closet out of spare Popsicle sticks, and win the Pulitzer by summer.

Let’s be honest. New Year’s Day makes us stupid.

We seem to lose all grasp on reality and forget that we do have a life. We have spouses, children, pets, day jobs and needy houseplants that all need our attention, too. These things don’t just go away because we decided to write a book.

If you are starting to feel burned out, then it might be a good time to revisit your original goals and grant some grace for temporary insanity. Maybe you need longer than 8 weeks to write your magnum opus. Just because we move a personal deadline does not mean we have failed.

Sometimes our creativity will lock up simply because it is caught like a deer in the headlights. Give your muse some breathing room, and she might just spark back to life.

4. Focus on love.

One great way to rest and recharge our creativity is to read. Remind yourself why you love to write. Get away from your own work and out of your own head for awhile. Read the kind of stuff that inspired you to want to write that novel in the first place. This is a good way to recoup, but still be “working.” Often, by “plugging in” to the creativity of others, we can recharge and be ready to write in no time.

In the end, know that writing a book is more like a marathon. We have to train, prepare, and then pace ourselves, or we will end up curled in the fetal position on the side of the road waiting on the rescue van. It’s normal to make mistakes and have setbacks and feel less than thrilled about our decision to become a writer. What is important is to remember that all of the doldrums and depression is temporary, but the thrill of publication is forever.

5. Above all else, remember that Love is a noun, but first it is a VERB.

Huh? Let me explain. Yes, love is a feeling. We get all ooey gooey and can’t get enough. But feelings are fickle and excitement is fleeting. Falling out of love with your WIP (work in progress)? Then go LOVE your WIP!!!  Again, huh? Love is first a VERB. It is part of the infinitive verb, “TO LOVE.”

What is love? Love is patient, kind and long-suffering. Love waits, endures and sacrifices even when everything looks dark. Love is not a fair-weather friend. Love is there even when no one else remains. When everything seems dark and bleak with your WIP? Go LOVE it. Love it enough, and the excitement will return and it better, it will remain.

If we keep chasing the noun–the feeling of love–then all we will end up with are a string of one-night stands unfinished projects. When we get good at the VERB–TO LOVE–we become committed professionals with wonderful, finished novels to our credit.

What are some ways you use to bust past the writing doldrums? What do you think causes your creativity to “lock up?” What tactics do you use to get unstuck?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will announce last week’s winner on Friday.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of February I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Winner from Week One is Patrick Thunstrom and Winner from Week Two is Peter Koevari! Congratulations, guys! Please send your 1250 word Word document to author kristen dot lamb at g mail dot com.

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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  1. #1 by Stacy Green on February 13, 2012 - 11:41 am

    I really needed this post. I’ve been feeling “meh” lately and have no reason. The sub process is going well, I’m excited about the new WIP, it’s pretty well plotted, etc. I just have the “I don’t wanna” attitude when it comes to writing. I work on it here and there, but I can’t seem to buckle down. Hopefully your advice will help me stop procrastinating and just do it. Thanks.

  2. #2 by Brock on February 13, 2012 - 11:42 am

    That’s a great set of tips. The one that resonates the most for me is number 5. Writing a book is a such a long haul that if I’m not in love with my ideas, my words and my story, then it’s just not going to happen. So, when I commit, I commit hard. I let discipline takeover when inspiration fails because my love for my manuscript is that deep. I can overcome any “down” periods just by reminding myself why I started the project in the first place.

  3. #3 by donnagalanti on February 13, 2012 - 11:47 am

    Great post! Love is a verb first…and its kinda like relationships…sometimes we’ll have those days where its work and routine and not feeling the love at all! But we cant give up right? We may need to try something new…shake things up. It seems our relationship with our writing is indeed a real one at times – love-hate.

  4. #4 by Gene Lempp on February 13, 2012 - 11:48 am

    Great post, Kristen. Excellent advice as always :)

  5. #5 by Joseph Ramirez on February 13, 2012 - 11:48 am

    I’ve always thought of writing a novel as being like entering a relationship. I have to watch myself to make sure that I don’t just stay in the casual dating phase… flirting with ideas, going out with bunches of different stories, daydreaming about what it might be like with THIS book or THAT book… sometimes I wonder if I’m just scared of commitment. :) But going through the bitter and the sweet of staying the course with one… complete… book… that is such a wonderful feeling that I know that I’ve got to settle down with another. It’s just the way it is.

    • #6 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 13, 2012 - 11:55 am

      LOL…yep. Easy to be an “idea-ho” ha ha ha ha ha.

  6. #7 by patricia l Morris on February 13, 2012 - 11:57 am

    Excellent inspiration for writing!

  7. #8 by Piper Bayard on February 13, 2012 - 12:03 pm

    Love this blog! As in, I experience the feeling of love for the knowledge you impart, and I perform the act of love by commenting and letting you know that. Thank you for sharing your wisdom so freely.

  8. #9 by Daniel Swensen on February 13, 2012 - 12:12 pm

    Great post, Kristen. I especially like the part about love — I think it’s maybe the easiest thing for writers to lose sight of, sometimes, when the work is tough and the goals seem far away.

  9. #10 by MJones on February 13, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    Great advice… and helpful. Sometimes I write myself into a corner and I have nowhere else to go. I’m stuck because I’ve written myself out of options. So I actually delete (well cut and paste elsewhere) until I see it open up again and go somewhere else.

  10. #11 by lorettawheeler on February 13, 2012 - 12:28 pm

    This was all such good advice, and came at the right time for me. I’ve already tried a few of your suggestions and now I’m down to, just do it!:) I haven’t got a clue what ails me…but I’m treating this like the proverbial horse. I’m getting back on…and “wridding”:) Scuse the sideways humor…I’ve been trapped in front of the computer far too long!;)

    Lo

  11. #12 by Cora Ramos on February 13, 2012 - 12:29 pm

    I appreciated your post, as usual a lot of good tips and reminders. I related most to #1–realizing that the stall is normal. Now, when I get to that point I do other things (reading other novels, craft books, etc) to allow the subconscious to work for me underneath, like seeds planted in the earth. We have to give them time to germinate. Thanks for the encouraging words.

  12. #13 by Catherine Johnson on February 13, 2012 - 12:32 pm

    Great post, Kristen, I’ve literally just been talking to a writer about this. We both said that when we feel a bit blocked on a story we just move on to another one, not starting another one, just one we had already in the pipeline. Flitting from one genre to another really suits me and makes it seem so fresh when you go back to it. And reading a great book as you say is wonderful for your writing mojo too.

  13. #14 by Marian Pearson Stevens on February 13, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    You never fail to inspire me when I need it the most! Thanks Kristen! Sending back some love your way!

  14. #15 by Carrie on February 13, 2012 - 12:43 pm

    I know I’ve been stalling the serious first edit of my NaNo. I just can’t seem to get inspired to read through it and fix it up when there are all these other lovely ideas and inspirations floating through my head!

  15. #16 by Char on February 13, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    Great advice!

    “It is usually about the 30,000 word mark that this initial failure to plot starts becoming clear.”

    Mine didn’t hit ’til around 40,000 words. I knew what the ending was, but I got stuck in the middle. My solution was plotting that turned into an outline/dialogue of approx. 40 pages. Once I plotted out the middle, I was on the writing road again.

  16. #17 by Anna on February 13, 2012 - 1:11 pm

    If taking a break to allow the ideas to bubble once again doesn’t get me past a stall, I’ll turn to one of my many ideas and write on that for a little while. Sometimes, as I stated in my last blog post – http://AnnaLWalls.blogspot.com – it was a matter of undoing a wrong turn and going back to an original mind set/plan that unlocked things.

  17. #18 by Lena Corazon on February 13, 2012 - 1:24 pm

    Absolutely fantastic post, Kristen, and so very true! It only dawned on me recently that my novel and I are in it for the long-haul, and that kicking it to the curb without at least trying to talk about what went wrong might be a little premature. ;) Yet another post of yours that I will file away for that rainy day when I’m feeling down in the dumps about my work!

  18. #19 by tomwisk on February 13, 2012 - 1:31 pm

    Suffered from RDD. Sat back and took stock. Made an outline (with diagrams) and pressed on. This post was just what I needed. I may not be in deep love with the WIP, I’ll give the relationship time to mature. Got a closet full of one night stands that need a little attention to blossom. Thanks.

  19. #20 by KM Huber on February 13, 2012 - 1:40 pm

    As usual, great timing and great writing, always so clear, most admirable. Getting distance from one’s writing is so important and something so easily forgotten. Think the distance really helps us keep the core of our work in progress–letting the darlings go–yet with all the sprinting and word count going on, it’s easy to forget that any good piece of writing needs a bit of age even in the 21st century.

    Thanks so much.
    Karen

  20. #21 by Les Howard on February 13, 2012 - 1:54 pm

    Kristin, you mentioned a book a few weeks ago – ‘Eat That Frog!’ by Brian Tracey. I got it and read it. It seems particularly applicable here.

    Reminder to self: reread chapters 2 and 7.

  21. #22 by Jenn Reck on February 13, 2012 - 1:59 pm

    Yea! I have a long way to go with my WIP, but I’ve intentionally made time for it every day in February and I feel like a new woman because I’m showing it my LOVE. (Ok…to be fair, some days I’m only able to show my WIP 5 minutes of LOVE if I’m lucky, but at least it knows I care.) I’m halfway through your book – and actually starting to “get it.” Thanks!

  22. #23 by granbee on February 13, 2012 - 2:02 pm

    And love is an ACTIVE verb, not a PASSIVE one! Thanks for relighting our fires here today, Kristen! The plan planned in love—YES!

  23. #24 by Barbara Forte Abate on February 13, 2012 - 2:05 pm

    Forget about the candy, flowers, and priceless gems, THIS is just the gift of LOVE needed! Thanks Kristen for another “keep it under my pillow” post :-)

    • #25 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 13, 2012 - 7:33 pm

      Awww, thanks and I am always happy to keep you guys inspired and in fighting form.

  24. #26 by k on February 13, 2012 - 2:16 pm

    great post; thanks for the energy and inspiration!

  25. #27 by Charlotte Betts on February 13, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    What a great blog! You put into words so much of what I’m thinking when I’m writing. And you’re right about that 30,000 words point – you just have to plan and push on until you fall in love with the story again.

  26. #28 by A.E. Tyree (@aeTyree) on February 13, 2012 - 2:33 pm

    A great reminder, LOVE is a verb. My WIP felt stale and I was struggling to write at the end of last year. I started this year with a kick@ss online class, writing short stories. Several have ended up being back-story incidents for my WIP characters, and it’s helped me fall in love with them all over again. Now I can’t wait to get back to my WIP with renewed excitement about my main characters.

    Sometimes it helps to remember why we fell in love in the first place. Works for relationships as well as WIPs. :-)

  27. #29 by Stephanie on February 13, 2012 - 2:35 pm

    I think reading is the best way to recharge. It gives you a sense of perspective (good, published writing vs. your state of writing) and inspires and motivates you to want to do something equally as amazing.

  28. #30 by Jean Jacobsen on February 13, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    Just started following you this week & I’m addicted already. Your reminder LOVE is a verb, yes and happy heart day to you tomorrow.

    • #31 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 13, 2012 - 7:32 pm

      Yay! Well at least one addiction that is fat-free, LOL.Thrilled to have you here :D

  29. #32 by August McLaughlin on February 13, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    I learned the hard way that compulsive over-working, breaking only to relieve my bladder, eat or briefly sleep, makes for sharpness burnout and the need for LOTS of revision. Allowing time for rest and play keep me not only motivated, but (it seems) smarter. ;)

  30. #33 by Tami Clayton on February 13, 2012 - 3:05 pm

    What really spoke to me was this: Frequently, when we hit a mental wall in our writing, it is because our subconscious is shouting, “You took a wrong turn!” This is EXACTLY what I’ve been experiencing though the negative Nellies in my head attribute hitting the mental wall as a failure on my part, that maybe I’m not a writer after all. Thanks for pointing this out so succinctly.

    • #34 by Siri Paulson on February 15, 2012 - 3:02 pm

      “Maybe I’m not a writer after all” — Tami, I’ve just been struggling with this very thought myself. Then I went back to look at the short story WIP I’d been avoiding, and voila, no external antagonist. It wasn’t an occasion for an existential crisis, just a writer’s block with a specific solution. (At least I really hope that’s done the trick!) Keep on keeping on….

  31. #35 by Myndi Shafer...one stray sock away from insanity. on February 13, 2012 - 3:21 pm

    “New Years Day makes us stupid”. Boy, isn’t that the truth!! And totally agree w/ the notion that love is a verb. Happy heart day, Kristen!

    • #36 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 13, 2012 - 7:32 pm

      Thanks Myndi. You too!

  32. #37 by Kern Windwraith (@oddparticle) on February 13, 2012 - 3:28 pm

    This year, for the first time ever, the novel-writing goals I set in January have continued strong into February. This is entirely to, I think, with point #3 in your post. After years of setting spectacularly unachievable goals, I’ve finally scaled my writing objectives back to an eminently do-able 500 words a day. I now write (almost) every day, and my output invariably exceeds my goal. In doing this, I’ve rediscovered the joy of writing, fallen in love with my characters all over again, and waved goodbye to those nasty feelings of failure that used to nibble at my heels when I’d drop the writing ball six or seven weeks into a new year.

  33. #38 by Naomi Baltuck on February 13, 2012 - 3:29 pm

    Great pst, Kristen. Love the analogy!

  34. #39 by Karen Cunningham on February 13, 2012 - 3:42 pm

    I have fallen out of love with my current WIP several times over the last few months. It was especially bad once I got to the “mushy middle”. The difference is that I could go to my outline and recommit to finishing, mainly because I knew where the story was supposed to go. Even then it was kind of difficult.
    One of the things that loosens me up creatively is writing in long hand. Yes, with a pen, on paper. I get a legal pad and a pen and just write. It doesn’t matter how much I mess up or what the writing looks like. I mark through, make notes and don’t punctuate.

    Thanks so much for this post, Kristen and reminding us that Love is a verb.

  35. #40 by Julie Glover on February 13, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    Perfect timing, since my WIP stalled last week. I stared at the words, scratched my head, and wondered where to go with it. I do have an extensive plot, but the sentences and scenes weren’t coming together. So I headed to my writing inspiration quotes and read a few. I also started reading more to remember what I love about language and story to begin with. I chatted with my husband to get his take on what it’s like to be a teenage guy (necessary insight for my YA novel). After all of that and reading this post, I’m starting to feel a bit giddy again. The lovin’ feeling is coming back. Thanks, Kristen!

    • #41 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 13, 2012 - 7:31 pm

      AWESOME! Let us know how it goes!

  36. #42 by Reetta Raitanen (@ReettaRaitanen) on February 13, 2012 - 4:21 pm

    “Love is a verb”. Ain’t that the truth. Thank you for this immensely inspiring post. I am very guilty of being an idea ho. For large part it is because I haven’t committed myself to the proper research and planning before plunging into the story.

    Another stumbling block is that I am afraid to tackle those really shining high concept ideas. I feel like I’m not ready to write them yet, not good enough writer yet. And yet, writing is a marathon and many of my favourite books took years to write. Or more like, years to edit and polish to perfection ;) If I want to create a book of that quality (and I do), it might take me as long. But you can’t perfect nothing. Those crappy words need to be put on paper so they can be improved.

  37. #43 by Gloria Richard Author on February 13, 2012 - 4:43 pm

    I needed to hear this this month, Kristen! Thanks for the pep talk. I’m in the midst of reorganizing goals and wrapping priorities around those that scare me most.

    Is it counter-intuitive that the scare-me-mosts overlay the big projects that own my heart? Well, own my heart is a bit dramatic, but…

  38. #44 by DebE on February 13, 2012 - 4:51 pm

    Timely.
    Writing is hard work. Planning is hard work. But, I find that I can plan with a semi burned-out brain. But that creative writing – actually putting myself in the story to show the reader what is going on and where – that needs a fresh mind. So, I’m learning to work hard on the writing when I have the goods and at the end of th day, when the energy levels and neurotransmitters start to fail, I plan. I think about what I need to prepare myself to tackle tomorrow. And then I sleep. Well, that’s been the routine for the last couple of days, and I’m liking it, so far.
    Right, time to stop procrastinating and tackle what I planned last night.
    Happy planning everyone!

    • #45 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 13, 2012 - 7:30 pm

      Rest is vital for the creative professional. I still struggle with making time to just…be.

  39. #46 by seilann on February 13, 2012 - 5:21 pm

    It took me eight years and three drafts to figure out #2. When I got the idea for my current WiP, I forced myself to stop in the middle of chapter two and plan out EVERYTHING: plot, character, world-building, I didn’t skip a single detail. When I finally went back to writing, I was amazed at how easily the words flowed out. :)

    I am highly intrigued by the concepts in 4 and 5. Will definitely give them a try next time I find myself facebooking instead of writing.

  40. #47 by Pauline Baird Jones on February 13, 2012 - 6:16 pm

    I swear about once a year I have to go back and “feel the love” remember why I love writing and remind myself that the marketing and other stuff is so I can keep writing and feeling the love. Thanks for another great blog post! (One of the great things about 2012 is that I stumbled into one of your courses and found this blog.)

  41. #48 by Jenny Hansen on February 13, 2012 - 7:30 pm

    As someone who has to practically pull her own teeth to finish book-length fiction, this post is a re-read for me.

    Plus you made me laugh with: “Let’s be honest. New Year’s Day makes us stupid.”

    Thanks!

  42. #49 by Kathleen on February 13, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    At the moment my burning to write is completely buried beneath, as you say, the screaming kids (two words: SNOW DAY) and the fact that I can’t hear through the ear infection that is my legacy after nine straight weeks of kids passing bugs around our house. I’m aching to write, but I’m totally exhausted!

    • #50 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 13, 2012 - 8:45 pm

      Awwww….*hugs*. I totally feel for you. The Spawn started nursery school so it has turned into the Hot Zone here at home. Feel better and it will be there. Just keep swimmin’ :D.

  43. #51 by Jenny on February 13, 2012 - 8:18 pm

    Great post, Kristen! I’ve been struggling with my WIP. I’m on what seems to be the 1,000 edit and I’m almost at the point if I have to look at it again, I’m going to scream. But I love it so much I can’t give up on it. It’s a vicious cycle.

    By the way, loved your singing. I was singing right a long with you. In fact, I had to put on the Righteous Brothers and listen to the whole song. Now it’s stuck in my head. Thanks. :)

  44. #52 by Jenni on February 13, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    Too true. Often we wait to feel like writing before we write, when the truth is the feeling comes after we’ve sat down and *made* ourselves get into the work.\
    It’s the same paradox with housework. Often, the energy to do the work comes once we’ve begun.
    Off to *love* my work. =)

  45. #53 by Richard Monro on February 13, 2012 - 9:16 pm

    Just when I needed it! Been a rough
    week.

  46. #54 by Tawna Fenske on February 13, 2012 - 9:49 pm

    Awesome post! Funny, I was mulling writing a similar post myself, but the burnout has been a little too strong lately and I haven’t felt up to it. Thanks for writing what I couldn’t possibly have written right now!

    Tawna

  47. #55 by Maryann Miller on February 13, 2012 - 11:00 pm

    I absolutely love number four. We have to love our stories and love the people in them. The more we love them, the ore that passion will be infused into the writing.

  48. #56 by Serena Dracis, Author on February 13, 2012 - 11:19 pm

    It really hit home when you said that often we stall because our subconscious yelling “wrong turn.” I never knew why, but when I was writing my first novel, and frustrated because I didn’t know where it was going, I would just step back. I knew I wasn’t walking away, but I would deliberately let the story sink into my subconscious mind. I wouldn’t even open the word document, but I’d let myself run through characters, plotting, etc. while I was doing housework, or gardening, or any sort of physical task that didn’t require much brain work. I’d also read authors I loved to get re-inspired. All your suggestions work wonders!

  49. #57 by Leigh D'Ansey on February 13, 2012 - 11:25 pm

    My most effective ‘kick’ is just to sit down and start writing instead of circling the computer, making coffee, playing Spider, picking up a duster or whatever. Sometimes it’s really hard to simply get my butt in my chair and peck away at the keyboard – but it works!

  50. #58 by amandalewisab on February 14, 2012 - 3:10 am

    *sigh* Kristen you must be psychic! Otherwise how could you know? I still haven’t figured out how to get past my dolldrums; which is probably why I’ve never finnished a WIP. I love the planning progress, but I get lost and discouraged with first chapters… I’ll try your advice, as it’s come at the perfect time. Thanks so much for the timely encouragement! :)

  51. #59 by broadsideblog on February 14, 2012 - 7:36 am

    I know most readers here (maybe all?) are working solely on fiction, but if anyone is also writing freelance, that — for me — can help recharge when I feel stale and grouchy. I write only non-fiction and getting a few things into print quickly (and paid for) reminds me that, yes, this is what I do well. I suspect half the battle, if not all, is that writing a piece of fiction that’s 80,000 to 100,000 words (the length of my two NF books), with no guarantee of publication, is the working definition of delayed gratification.

    And who enjoys that? Very few of us.

  52. #60 by patriciasands on February 14, 2012 - 8:47 am

    Dear Kristen – Here you are … again … as always … sharing the love, making us think, offering laughter as well as wisdom. “New Year’s Day makes us stupid” was my loudest laugh! There is so much truth in this post, I’ve printed it and tacked it up so I can be reminded every day. At 56,728 into novel #2 there are days I definitely will need this. But after a minor detour, the plan is back on track and I’m in love and loving what I’m doing. What better feeling is that? Thanks … once again for the guidance you offer. As Barbara Forte Abate (comment #24 said) … this post is indeed the best Valentine’s gift!

  53. #61 by Debra Burroughs on February 14, 2012 - 10:00 am

    Great post, Kristen! As I am at the very end of my current WIP, set to release in about 2 weeks, I am working on plotting my next novel, which doesn’t seem to be coming as easily as previous ones. I love your suggestion of unplugging and reading someone else’s work for awhile to get re-charged. Ron McKnight, on his blog, once said that as writers we do not need to write every day, but we do need to read every day. I think that was to keep us inspired and keep great writing in our thoughts.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, Kristen! XOXO

  54. #62 by Yvette on February 14, 2012 - 3:36 pm

    Great advice Kristen. It’s always worth reading the commentary too because there’s a lot of good stuff there. When I did Bob’s Warrior Writer course I set a lot of high standards for the output I intended to produce. Now a full year later I have failed to uphold most of it!! And that can be depressing. However his guidelines and methods will ever after inform my work, no doubt about that. I’m with Brock, when I write a book I fall deeply in love with it, and that’s what helps me too, it becomes painful to stay away from it too long.
    Yvette Carol

  55. #63 by Dorryce Smelts on February 14, 2012 - 5:06 pm

    HI Kristen,

    I’ve been subscribed to your blog for a while and this is my first post. First, I really enjoy your practical, wise advice. This post was timely for me as I just made my way back to writing after a long pause (well, 2-3 months) during which I couldn’t generate any words at all. Just, stared at the wall. Nothing more. Or played solitaire on my laptop, which was REALLY bad, since those distractions are really like WMDs – they can sabotage you for the long run. I especially appreciated your first comment about stalling being normal. I felt so much better reading that…the writing is coming back, slowly, and I’m happy to be reading your blog for its support and wisdom.

    Cheers,
    Dorryce

  56. #64 by Julia Indigo on February 14, 2012 - 5:56 pm

    Thanks for the post, Kristen – you never fail to inspire!

    I have a different issue, currently – a health issue that is sapping my strength and leaving me to exhausted to write. I even wake up exhausted! Luckily I know what the problem is, and things should change for the better by March. That being said, if I knew where either WIP was going that might be a help, but right now all I can seem to do is play bejeweled – even FB is too much trouble.

    Here’s to the Spring Equinox!

  57. #65 by KylieQ on February 14, 2012 - 7:37 pm

    Thank you, Kristen. I realise you’ve already had a whole bunch of “I really needed to read this” comments but ditto from me. I’m still keeping up with my New Year’s Resolution (write a page a day, every day) but this month has been so much harder than last month so your first point about stalling really resonated with me.

  58. #66 by Lissa Matthews on February 14, 2012 - 7:38 pm

    When I hit the wall, I have to walk away. I have to do something else creative. Bake, cook, crochet, cross stitch, paint a wall, re-organize the kitchen, read, take a weekend trip, watch movies, go to a concert… Whatever I can do to get my mind off writing and get it back on creativity. If I sit and try to ‘write’ myself through it or focus on any kind of writing to break through… I’ll work myself into an even deeper corner. For me, walking away and sparking my creativity in some other way works best. This was a great post!

    • #67 by Yvette on February 15, 2012 - 3:41 pm

      Yeah I agree Lissa! Although I find if really hard to leave my wip, I know that if I do — like meditating — the rewards of taking a break will mean more creativity.
      Yvette Carol

  59. #68 by aehuppert on February 14, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    Hooray! Thanks for the confirmation! I had over 30k words and lost it…bleebleebleeb *swirly scooby doo eyes* Thanks also to your recommendation of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, I fell in love with my WIP again. To scale the wall of writer’s block I watch a movie, read something inspiring, take a 10 min walk or juggle…yes, juggle. Love your warrior blog! Keep it comin!

  60. #69 by Amanda Hsiao on February 15, 2012 - 4:45 am

    I laughed so hard through this article! Writing is so like a relationship! For one week, I’m excited and thrilled with the characters, the next I think, why can’t they just act the way I want? This gave me a lot of food for thought and I realize I’m going to have to stick with one relationship . . .uh, story until it is time for us to part ways and I can fall in love with another story. Thanks for the encouragement!

  61. #70 by tracikenworth on February 15, 2012 - 5:03 am

    Such great advice!! I try not to make resolutions any more but instead set goals for the year. It helps me to work towards them and not despair at the passing of time.

  62. #71 by Page Lambert on February 16, 2012 - 10:37 am

    This post is also a great reminder that as authors, it’s all about THE STORY. Thanks, Kristin. Nice to discover you. I’d like to add/link you to my list of recommended blogs and sites and want to include a photo, also linked to your site. If you would like this, please contact me. Thanks.

    Page Lambert
    All Things Literary.
    All Things Natural.
    http://www.pagelambert.blogspot.com

  63. #72 by Brianna Soloski on February 16, 2012 - 11:28 am

    I am hopelessly behind on my blog reading, but this post couldn’t have been more timely for me. I’ve been giving my second WIP some love over the last week or so and I think, maybe, there is a story starting to take shape in there. I have a long way to go, obviously, but I finally feel like I’m on track with it, after the sprint that was NaNo.

  64. #73 by Emma Burcart on February 17, 2012 - 9:00 am

    I just found this today, but I so needed it. My mind has been completely taken over with my plans for moving and my writing time is now becoming infected. I am finding myself popping over to google to check for one more fact about the place I’m moving to, or searching for housing options, when I should be writing. I need to fall back in love with my story and quit the affair with the move.

  65. #74 by amberdover on February 21, 2012 - 12:13 am

    Reblogged this on amberdover and commented:

    Happy Hear the Writer Roar! Tuesday :) I just love Kristen Lamb’s blog. This was a great post and I’m taking it to heart. Tonight my hubby prayed that I wouldn’t have writer’s block…..lol I didn’t expect that prayer…but I needed it. It’s time to grab the popcorn and hide myself in a corner to write… God bless and remember The High King Lives! ~Amber Dover

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