Stuck, Unhappy, and Confused Writer, What To Do?
If you are stuck or unhappy with your writing then what you are doing isn’t working and you need to change.
What to change?
Writing is work. Go do something that is harder work, like a deep cleaning of the bathroom. I don’t mean wipe out the sink, I mean get on your hands and knees and scrub. If you work hard enough your mind will beg you to go back to your comfortable chair and write. Don’t give in.
Keep slaving away. But also think, would your protagonist clean the bathroom. Have you every thought of your main character doing ordinary things. Would your protagonist do things you don’t like to do or that you consider hard work in a way that is unique, fast, or even happily? Take notes for when you get back to writing.
It doesn’t have to be cleaning the bathroom. For one of my first jobs I had to clean the business’s bathroom every morning. Ten minutes later it was a mess. A fellow worker felt that someone else had to clean it up and he could make a big a mess as he wanted. It was always someone else’s problem, yeah mine.
Go out in the garden and pull weeds. That’s hot, dirty, or muddy work. Soon you’ll be longing for the coffee shop and the air conditioning. Don’t stop. Think about your protagonist gardening. You don’t think she would garden. Sherlock Holmes raised bees. Why wouldn’t your protagonist garden? Write it down and keep pulling weeds.
Maybe you just need a break. Are you a member of the write a book a month squad? Slow it down to a book every two or three months. Then dig out the grammar and writing books and make those books that take longer better books. If spending a couple of hours with conflicting grammar books doesn’t make you want to throw the grammar books against the wall and get back to writing the great American novel I don’t know what will.
Go read something for pleasure. If you have been writing too much and are burned out, you haven’t been reading enough. Go read outside your genre, go read something for a guilty pleasure. Read a short story and make notes on how to write it better. Make notes on how to write it your way. Finish reading the book before going back to your writings. Better yet read two or three books before writing again.
Try doing some hard work that will make the old mind beg to return to writing. Do a deep edit of something you wrote. You think writing is hard work, why do they pay editors so much money to edit. Editing is very hard work and if it isn’t hard work for you then you’re not doing it right.
So if you’re stuck then get out of your rut and do something different. Don’t do something simple, do something hard. And finish that task. Don’t let the call of the coffee shop pull you away before you’re finished.
Stay strong, write on.
Professor Hyram Voltage
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