Writer’s Rut: How to Break those Winter Blues

It’s winter time, there’s precious little light and we all want to stay in bed. Oh, is that just me? However chipper you may be feeling at the moment, chances are that, as a writer, you will get stuck. You might continue to put words on the page, but maybe it won’t be as much fun, your ideas will not be accompanied by the usual spark or glowing lightbulb and perhaps you will wonder why you are doing it. Will anyone even want to read this anyway? How do we get beyond Writer’s Rut? How do we shake loose the ideas that are buried on layers of winter blues and the things that have become a habit?  Here are some ideas:

Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by DB Johnson

1. Go for a walk. Maybe you get up and drink some coffee and start tapping away at the computer right away.  Throw all of that out the window for a week. Instead of starting out at the keyboard take to the streets and paths.  It worked for Thoreau, why not you?

2. Use a pen for a change. Keyboards are great! They let us get a lot of words out as quickly as possible. But maybe if those words haven’t been up to your usual snuff, a different tool is in order. Writing with a pen just feels different. And in certain ways, it’s more flexible, you can augment your ideas with a picture or symbol of some kind–you can even write in circles if you want to. This is not to say that you should throw out your shiny new MacBook, just that changing your implement from time to time may change your perspective.

3. Listen to music. It’s hard for me to listen to a song with words when I’m writing, but I like to listen to Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Beethoven or something else instrumental. It really gets the gears moving. You could even write a few lyrics to go with the music, just for kicks.

4. Write in a different form. If you write in prose, try verse. If you are a versifier, write in prose. Ruts form, after all, when we travel the same path repeatedly.

5. Make a movie or play the guitar instead. Sometimes when I feel uninspired by what I’m writing I just do something else. Your creative impulse doesn’t have to always take the same form and just because you call yourself a writer, that doesn’t mean that’s all you can do. Heck, you don’t even have to show anyone what you make. Creation for the fun of it is what should be at the heart of all your artistic pursuits. So why not try something else—collage, baking, cartooning—to remind yourself of what you enjoy about it.

How do you break out of a rut? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. [...] might continue to put words on the page,” says children’s book author Tamson, “but maybe it won’t be as much fun, your ideas will not be accompanied by the usual spark or [...]

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