Every time a new member joins the LegendHaven mailing list, a dragon gets their wings. And I always ask them what their biggest problem is with writing. A recent legend fired back this amazing thought:
“My most difficulty that I have with writing is getting out of writing slumps. I have this great idea, I write and write and write, then my inspiration just drops. I sit there for a week feeling very unmotivated. Some times I try other projects, new projects and that usually boosts my enthusiasm. But some times the story just feels so dry, you have many glorious ideas to come, but the present in the story is not exiting, and does not prompt you to continue with the story.
First, my good legend, you’re not alone. I have this exact same problem, partly because my attention is divided between work and family and podcasts and my to-be-read list… But if you’re a student, you’re also plugged up with all sorts of things, like school deadlines, family needs, dishes, summer jobs, and so much more.
Writing is not something that always flows. In fact, the easy and excited flow comes after building the habit. 3 days in a row shows interest. 3 weeks shows progress. 3 months shows a habit. 3 years shows a skill.
Saw that on an Instagram reel, so might not be totally true, but the principle certainly is.
If you’re struggling with writing, like we all do, that’s ok. It’s normal – even when the ideas are lights-out amazing and just need to exist. So here’s a couple of ideas – because not every writer writes the same way, nor sustains the same levels of intensity.
Writing becomes a difficulty.
Sometimes writing just becomes too much to do, and you may have competing pressures or responsibilities. That can sap a whole lot of your focus and resilience. It may not be practical to expect that you can actually get much done, and you have to go with the energy you have, when you have it.
It is also true that many of us, through no fault of our own, live in a culture that is filled with poor diets and chronic illness. That means, from the get-go, many people will have a hard time showing and getting things done, no matter how well-meaning they are. Quite literally, poor food means poor energy levels. And stressful lifestyles with no time for our attention to reset and refocus, creates hyper-aware humans who are always in a simmering level of fight-flight.
Sometimes there’s nothing that can be done, and so the art of being a writer is just managing all these challenges, and doing what we can.
Build a Habit.
For every single writer out there, writing is a habit. No one else teaches us, we teach ourselves. We set a date with our psyche, sit down in a special place, or a laundry room to get away from people, lock the door, and focus.
Returning over and over again to a trusted area, at a regular time, is the fastest way to build a habit of creativity and writing. But it doesn’t come immediately. It waxes and wanes, depending on the other things in your life. But that is why habits are crucial. Let’s face it; humans can be a remarkably lazy species. Especially in the first world with refrigeration, hot water, and air conditioning. All of the Neanderthal skills that kept us in peak condition aren’t needed… so they fade.
Some of us need to work to get them back.
Habits don’t care if you’re in the mood or feeling up to it. We trust in habits because most of the time, we’re not feeling it. Habits create resilience, and resilience creates motivation. If we wait for the right feels, they never come. We show up, do the things that create the feels and the space for creativity, and it shows up.
So do a 30-day challenge, and don’t tell anyone. Just sit and write for 30 minutes a day, at the same time. Not feeling it, or hating it, or just frustrated after a while? That’s ok. That’s all your other systems and organs and habits wanting your attention. But you’re re-training yourself, like a horse.
Research the concept of habit-stacking. This is as simple as starting with something small every day, like playing a single note on a piano. Then each day after, add one more new habit. Stay small. Over 3 days, to 3 weeks, to 3 months, you’ll find yourself doing totally different things with your attention and time, purely because you started small, and stayed consistent.
After 30 days, you’ll find that you’ve started wiring your mind to be ready to write. And even if you sit and feel like a failure, show up and sit down and write three words, and try to imagine writing. Most importantly, don’t tell yourself – ever – that you’re a failure. You’re always in progress, always learning, always growing.
Take time off.
Sometimes we overdo it. Because of all the reasons I just listed already, and tons you can make up. Sometimes trying to write during a phase in your life becomes harder than it needs to.
It just might be that the rest of your subconscious doesn’t feel safe enough to sit and do something creative. All the other pressures and things – like job, family, personal issues – demand your attention. That’s often the left side of your brain, the side that’s focused on surviving, planning, logistics, and just the whole business of staying alive. The left side treats everything like objects, because it has to.
When you’re always living in the left brain, or living for long periods of time, you build up a habit. Even if it’s not intentional, you’re telling your body that this is the best thing you need to do. So the body will adapt. It will stop sharing resources with your right side, the creative, imaginative, empathic side.
If we spend enough time starving our right brain, we become sharp, crabby, annoyed, and insufferable. We’ve met these kinds of people. Because we’re not acting and living like a full human being. A full human is both sides of the brain, or is a whole person, and must learn to balance survival with creativity.
So trying to force writing into a mix like that can feel wonderful and liberating for short periods, because you’re beginning to be more fully human. But you have a deeper lifestyle habit that will reassert itself.
So maybe you need a break, if you can take it. Go on holiday for a while. Or do something dramatic with your life that forces all of your habits to break and not be the same. That’s the only way to break habits – create all new conditions. Perhaps from a place of peace, you can start building new ones, because now you’re being more intentional.
Take it easy.
You might not need all the thoughts shared here. Perhaps, you just need to find your own way. There are writers who never write until they’re ready, and then it all flows out.
They spend plenty of time simmering their thoughts, like a pot on slow boil. At the right time, their creativity and subconscious throws up a flare, and they know that it’s time, and just write for 10 days straight.
Most of us do not have that level of inner awareness. We have to train ourselves to become aware of ourselves. That’s what a writing habit does.
But if you’re building habits now, and burning out, that’s a mark that there are other things you need to pay attention to. Try focusing on them. Maybe this isn’t the right time, or you don’t feel safe, or there’s too much going on.
Maybe you don’t need to follow the writing habits that everyone else talks about in their reels and recommendations. Maybe you need to check out popular and successful authors to find out what their writing habits are.
As special as you are, you’re not that different from another writer. So try to find someone like you, and test their habits.
Letting things simmer is another way of calling you to contemplation. It means allowing something to grow on its down, with minimal touch and force. Just the sunlight of your attention.
Now, all this being said, you will still need to be practicing the craft of writing. If you’re not writing novels, you will need to be writing something. It could be emails, journalling, blog posts, anything.
The core part is to be always communicating with the written word… and to be ruthless with yourself. Always be trying to write better. Try to write in different styles. Copy your favorite authors. Try to be as simple and succinct as you can. Edit and re-edit until you build a habit of excellence – as much as possible.
And also read. Keep reading all sorts of fiction and nonfiction. Fill yourself up with thoughts.
That way, when peace and inspiration strike at the same time, you can sit down and write for 60 days straight and punch out a novel.
Whatever you do, be kind to yourself. Do not force or shame yourself – because that never works. We learn to lead ourselves with kindness and love, which means paying attention.
And when we pay attention, we learn things we didn’t see. Maybe we find our own way, or maybe we just need to learn the habit over a period of time.
Either way, writers write.