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 to Write About When You Don’t Know What to Write About

Your writing does not want boundaries.

writing

Do you blame your lack of writing productivity on writer’s block? You’re not alone. Unfortunately, whether you believe it’s a real thing or not, it’s still just another excuse for not writing anything. When you “don’t feel like it” or “can’t write,” what you’re actually convincing yourself is that you don’t have anything of value to write about. And that just isn’t true.

What do you do when you feel “blocked”? Do you go for a walk? Read a book? Watch Netflix? I can’t say I know the “right” thing to do when you try to write but can’t. There likely isn’t one correct way to do it. But I do know one thing you shouldn’t do: give up on writing. Yes, sometimes taking a short break for five or ten minutes helps to clear your head. But I don’t believe you can “fix” your problem by deciding you’re just “not in the mood” to write.

Not knowing what to write about, for some reason, trips people up all the time. “I can’t think of anything to write.” I have this problem sometimes when I’m blogging, especially on Wednesdays (heh…). But have I ever skipped a post, ever, in the past 18 months because I “couldn’t think of anything to write about”? Nah. Here’s what I write about when I can’t think of what to say.

I just start writing what I’m thinking.

I don’t think about what I’m going to write. I just start writing.

Sure, that tends to result in a piece of writing that’s all over the place and doesn’t have any linear structure and doesn’t even always make a good point by the time it’s over. But you’ve been misled if you believe everything you write has to be publishable. You’re wasting your time if you decide the only time you are “allowed” to write is when you are going to create a first draft worth revising. You’ll never get anything done if that’s the way you operate.

Write about how your day is going. Write about a person who’s getting on your nerves. Write about how you’re feeling. Out of those things usually comes something of value – something you can use. But if you produce nothing, you’re going to have that much harder of a time coming up with something new.

Emotion makes up a large percentage of our writing fuel. So what’s so bad about writing about what’s frustrating you right now, or what’s making you sad, or what’s bringing you joy? It’s true that most of the world doesn’t care about your feelings, but who’s to say that means you’re not allowed to express them?

Even still, writing may do a pretty good job of conveying emotion, but writing itself is not an emotion. It’s not just something you feel. It’s something you actually have to sit down and do. There are days I am behind on blog posts and I’m overwhelmed and I really struggle to figure out what I’m going to write about. I don’t quit. I don’t just walk away and do something else. I think about you (my readers) and I think about what I can bring to the table, and I come up with something and I write it and it’s there forever.

If I only wrote when I felt confident about a post, I would very rarely, if ever, post. If you don’t know what to write about, honestly, just start writing. I cannot say that enough. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best post you have ever written or the best story you have ever told. It’s not going to make or break your writing career. Yes, in some cases, it’s different. I can’t show up to work and write garbage and just shrug it off. Many people struggle to write when there isn’t any pressure … yet they put unnecessary pressure on themselves to do it “exactly right.” Stop it! You are never right 100 percent of the time. If other people expect that of you, their opinions don’t matter.

So what are you going to write about? It could be anything. Once when it was snowing out, I wrote an entire short story about being lost in a blizzard. Did I ever do anything with it? No. But I had fun, I used up some of my creative energy, I got myself into a flow state and I went on to make progress on other projects even though I hadn’t planned on it. Your writing does not want boundaries. Don’t lock your creativity in a cage and expect it to obey your every command on the rare occasions you let it out to play. Just be weird. Being “the best” is overrated.


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.