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.

What Is Writing Motivation, Actually?

In the end, it’s all up to you.


Have you ever felt “unmotivated” to write? Of course you have; we ALL have. Or, we thought motivation was to blame, anyway. There are plenty of reasons why we find and give in to excuses for not writing. Motivation, or lack thereof, goes a little bit deeper than a shallow excuse.

What do we mean when we talk about motivation, in terms of writing? Probably not what you’ve always thought. Let’s break it down.

It’s not something you can go looking for

Don’t mistake motivation for inspiration. There’s enough of a misconception of what “writespiration” is anyway. Motivation isn’t a feeling. It’s still not as tangible as you might like it to be, but it’s something you are in complete control of. It is a mixture of desires, goals, strategies and plans. The Return to Your Reason challenge we attempted a few months ago focused on the idea that everyone has a specific reason, or motivation, for writing. You’re the one who establishes that. It’s not out there somewhere waiting for you to find it.

Searching for your motivation to write doesn’t mean there is one specific tool, activity or emotional state that is going to somehow give you writing superpowers. In reality, writing motivation is more about the big picture. It’s the thing that drives you to sit down and write not just once or twice, but consistently over an extended period of time.

Your writing motivation can only come from one place

And that place is, as you’ve probably already guessed, within your own head. This is why YOU must be the one to decide to commit to your writing, and YOU have to be the one to set the goals, and YOU have to come up with plans and strategies to make it all happen. Take the guide I included in last week’s newsletter, for example. It’s called a ‘guide’ because it’s only a suggestion. My role here is to give you tips and tools for you to go away and try on your own, not force or tell you how things should be done.

It’s really a matter of taking responsibility for your own writing. As humans, we’re not always good at that, so it’s understandable that you might struggle here. We just naturally like to rely on other people and feel like others’ contributions to our goals makes a difference. A lot of times, it doesn’t. Regardless, it has to start and end with you. No one else truly knows why you want to write this thing in the first place. Only you know that.

It’s going to take other attributes to turn motivation into productivity

That’s what this whole series of posts over the past week has been about. Attributes like discipline and focus and motivation all work together to fuel productivity. Once you have your true “reason” for writing – you have a mission to teach people something through writing, or you have a specific message you want to send through a particular story, etc. – you have to use that to get started. But other things have to be in place in order for you to keep writing.

This is why having a series of clear end goals and creating schedules to help you move toward those goals is the most effective way for you to write what you want to write. I can’t stress enough the importance of being specific about what you really want to use writing for or what you want to accomplish while doing it. I know this is hard. But it’s what’s probably going to help many of you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Motivation is more than just wanting to do something. Just because I want to finish my novel by November 1 doesn’t mean I’m going to sit around and wait for a day I feel like working on it – because there’s so much else going on, I very rarely do. I’m telling the story for largely a personal reason, but that is my motivation. So I set a time to sit down and work on it on specific days, and that’s what I do.

Is it hard? Yep. Do I want to do it, most of the time? Not really; it’s almost been a year and I’m ready to move on the moment it’s finished. But I keep doing it because I don’t lose sight of that underlying motivation I have to continue on even when I don’t feel like it.

That’s what you have to do. Figure out your motivation. Use that as a foundation, and start writing.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-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.