This is Why You’re Stuck in a Rut

Why do you keep writing the same old things?

You’ve been sitting here for half an hour, trying to force yourself to write. You haven’t felt like doing it much, lately. So much so that you’re starting to question whether writing is something you even want to keep doing. Is it worth it? Are you even good enough at it to make it to the next level?

Everyone falls into ruts. It’s often confused with this term you might recognize: ‘writer’s block.’ (For the record, if you don’t already know this – I do not believe writer’s block exists, and will meet every argument you throw at me with evidence that you are wrong … roar.) In these places, you suffer from extreme boredom, doubt and a lack of motivation.

It happens. But do you know why?

It’s actually not about what you’re doing wrong – but instead, what you’re not doing enough of.

It all begins with laziness.

That’s right: you’ve gotten lazy. I’m sorry to say it, but let’s be real here. You’re too comfortable, and you know it. A writing life with zero stress is great!!! Until it gets boring, and you start throwing out every idea you have because, among many reasons, you just don’t feel like tackling it “right now.”

Every writer needs some kind of challenge to keep them going, and you can’t always rely on someone or something else to give that to you. You also have to know how to best challenge yourself.

Can you start posting once every two weeks on a blog covering a topic that requires more in-depth research and careful planning? Can you write and publish an essay you know people are going to get angry about in the comments – even though that makes you uncomfortable? What about writing a novel featuring a main character with beliefs you don’t support?

Would all these things be too hard … or just what you need to get out of your writing funk?

There are some instances in which writing will remain easy – it’s supposed to be freeing, enjoyable and good for the soul, after all. But it can get too easy. You start to confuse boredom with feeling like you don’t want to do this whole writing thing anymore. It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s that your mind needs creative stimulation beyond what you’re currently giving it.

It’s up to you to push yourself. No one can do that for you. Write or work on that thing you’ve been putting off because it’s “too much of” a challenge. Challenging yourself is the most effective way to grow and thrive in the writing world. Keep writing the same old things, stay comfortable, avoid worry and stress, and you’re going to stay at the exact same level you’re at right now, for a very long time.

If that’s what you want, go ahead. Keep doing what you’re doing. But if you really want to go after success, if you really want to earn it, go above and beyond. Push yourself farther than you think you can handle, in terms of storytelling. Dare to test your own limits as a creator. Everyone’s results are different, but you just might be pleased with yours.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

If It’s Not Writer’s Block, What Is It?


It’s eight o’clock on a Friday night. You’ve blocked out this time specifically for writing, knowing it would be the one night this week you would have two to three free hours to get something done. You’re ready to go. You’ve set up your writing space at the kitchen table. You have blankets and tea and a Word document open on your laptop. It’s time to write.

Yet you just keep staring at that virtual page. You have no idea what to write. You want to. You need to, probably. Time isn’t the issue. Privacy isn’t a problem. This is the perfect time and place to write. You even feel motivated to start typing. You just can’t.

Many would call this writer’s block. I don’t, because it’s worse than a myth: it’s a lazy excuse for not getting anything done. There will come these moments when you’re trying as hard as you can to write, but nothing’s coming of it. What you have to realize in these moments is the amount of pressure you are putting on yourself. You’ve set yourself up to get all this work done; you’re ready to leap off that diving board into a pool of creativity. But you just end up standing up there on the edge, wondering if it’s actually worth diving headfirst into uncertainty.

It’s moments like these that stop far too many writers from ever meeting their full potential. Most of them don’t even know what’s happening to them. They just assume there’s something wrong – bad timing; lack of motivation; no “muse.” They take the advice to get up and clear your head for a few minutes as an excuse to abandon their work until they’re “inspired” again. What’s the problem there? Inspiration very rarely comes along when you’re waiting for it.

In these moments, you have to write anyway, even when it seems impossible. I struggled to start writing this blog post, but I didn’t quit. I told myself that if I could just write one sentence, even if it was terrible, I could get up, go get some more coffee and come back. My coffee mug is still empty. Once you start, stopping becomes the challenge.

These moments of mental struggle, of doubt, of fearing you’ll fail, these are normal. Every writer experiences them. The strongest ones write despite their weakest moments. This is going to happen to you. Treat these moments as opportunities, not excuses.

Just wait them out. Keep pushing through those nights you just don’t want to sit there and write something. It’s much harder to jump back in when you stop completely. Even if you have to write some really bad blog posts or chapters or essays. Even if you feel like you’re losing all your confidence or wasting precious time, nine times out of ten, if you just keep doing what you can to navigate the storm, it will pass. And you’ll emerge knowing you’ve tried the best you could – and compared to what you’ve already survived, what’s ahead might seem much more manageable.

Take that dive, even when you feel paralyzed. It’s very hard. Even I get frustrated with myself when I struggle to do something I wake up and do every single day. It doesn’t make sense half the time, but you sort of have to trick yourself into making it happen even when you’re terrified it won’t turn out right. You’re either going to fall flat or you’re going to nail that dive. Anything’s better than having to climb back down that ladder not having even tried at all.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.