At the end of 2017, I finished crafting the final book in the YA supernatural series I’d been writing solidly for four years. Before those four years, it was a jumble of ideas and rough drafts worked on sporadically for 13 years. To say this was the series I was always thinking about is an understatement. I didn’t work on anything else in all that time, so now that I’ve finished it, I have no idea what to do.
I’ve had ideas for new books, little snippets of things I’ve written down over the years, but I don’t know which idea to work on first, and I feel as if I can’t. Even though I know my YA series is done, I didn’t achieve what I wanted. It wasn’t picked up by an agent and I’m still playing the waiting game with publishers, so it’s hard to start on something new. Those who follow me on Instagram and Facebook will also know that at the end of February I had some major surgery, and the recovery took a lot of out me, including a set back with a post-op infection that is currently still ongoing (and the reason there wasn’t a new blog post last week).
As you can imagine, this lack of direction in what to work on next and recovery from illness has left me feeling pretty uninspired. It would be so easy right now to take a break from everything. I have all the right excuses and nothing motivating me to write, but I know how this goes. I’ve been there before when I allowed 6 of those 13 years “working” on my series to do no writing at all. If I stop now, it’s too easy to not start again. Instead, I’m getting back to it. I’ve written this blog even though I kept telling myself to rest for one more day, and I’ve started regularly posting to social media again. Slowly, I will ease back into my routine and then I will start a new story/idea/book. In the meantime, I will build up to inspiration using the following tips, so if you’re currently feeling just as uninspired, feel free to try them for yourself.
I may have binge-watched 9 seasons of The Office, the first 2 seasons of UnReal, caught up on the latest series of the X-Files and started watching The Resident, but I also read more books in the last three weeks than I have so far this year. The books have been written by fellow writers that I follow on Instagram, and all have entertained and taught me. Reading other authors is not only inspiring and makes you want to write, but it teaches you about pacing, what works and what doesn’t, characters, and what other works are out there in your genre. When you’re feeling uninspired, reading the right (or even the wrong) book might just give you what you need to put pen to paper.
Try A Writing Prompt
If the thought of having to work on a whole book is putting you off, try something small. I started with this blog post. You could start with a post of your own, or with something as simple as a writing prompt. What you write from that prompt doesn’t need to be a book, ten pages, or even 500 words. Start with a sentence. You could even try just one sentence a day for a week until you’ve got your writing mojo back and are ready for more.
Re-read Your Best Work
We all have a piece of writing we love, a darling that we just couldn’t cut, and you’ll need that when you’re uninspired. That piece will remind you why you write and help you get back into it. Find that favorite piece of self-written work and re-read it. Allow the words to spark your creativity and pull you back into your writing voice.
Indulge In The Mundane
Some of my best ideas have come to me when I’ve been out walking. I doubt there isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t had a great idea while they’ve been in the shower, and who hasn’t had to put the cooking of dinner on hold to write down the idea that finally closes that plot hole you’ve been working on for weeks. As much as you try to schedule in idea time or work on your plotting, ideas—especially the great ones—usually strike while you’re doing something else, something totally mundane. So if you’re uninspired, pull out the vacuum cleaner and let your mind chase down plot bunnies while you suck up the dust bunnies, and see what ideas spring to mind.
Do A Writing Sprint
My final and most important tip for the best way to get back into writing is to actually write. Before you convince yourself that it’s been too long, that whatever you write will be crap, and that you only have one more episode to go in your binge-watching session, grab a timer (an hourglass, your phone, a kitchen timer), set it for ten minutes and then write. It doesn’t matter what it is. It could be a scene you want to tackle, the start of a new chapter, a description of your main character, even the end of the book if you want. Whatever it is, just write. Write for ten minutes, don’t edit, don’t think too much, just write. If at the end of that ten minutes you want to keep writing, keep writing. If you want to stop, stop. Write for another ten minutes tomorrow and then the next day until you’re back into your writing habit.
By the end of your writing sprint, inspiration should have taken over. Pairing it with a good read of your work and the work of others, writing prompts and tasks that let your mind wander, you should be back into regular writing in no time—and wondering how you become so uninspired that you ever stopped writing in the first place.
— K.M. Allan