How to get your writing groove back

What makes you a writer? It isn’t some special skill or ability, but rather simply being someone who writes. I think students and even early career faculty often look at senior scholars assuming they have some experience or ability that makes them better writers. While experience and practice helps with writing, the biggest help is simply writing. Yet, even the best writers lose their way. In today’s post, I want to share a few tips about how to get your writing groove back.

I recently completed two major writing projects. Even after working on them for months, I had to do a lot of extra work (binge writing) to get them completed on time. Binge writing is terrible for many reasons, but the greatest issue may be how burned out it makes us.

After those projects were finished, I was completely burned out on writing.

Simply put, I’d lost my writing groove.  

After months of producing several thousand words a week, I stopped writing almost entirely.

It was frustrating as I knew I was getting behind on other important writing projects.

I had to get my groove back.

Fortunately, there are some great strategies to help you get your writing groove back. I’ve used these many times and found that they always help get me going again.

1.  Change your writing location.

I am always amazed at how well this works. All you have to do is go somewhere different and the vibe seems to almost immediately change. This is what got me out of my recent slump. I went to a coffee house one morning and the new space helped me get going again. It doesn’t matter where you go as long as it is somewhere different from your usual writing spot.

2.  Set a goal.

You should set a goal based on time and not how much you produce (i.e. words or pages). When you are looking to get your groove back, the act of setting aside the time to write is more important than any words you get down on the page.

3.  Write about something other than your immediate writing project.

Often we can lose our groove when there is a project with a fast approaching deadline. Maybe we are sure where to start or we’ve procrastinated for so long that we’re afraid we won’t complete the project on time. It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best things for you to do in this situation is to write on something else. You might have a conference proposal to work on or a report for a committee. To get moving, just write— anything!  As you re-engage your writing muscles, you will get going and be ready to tackle your immediate project in a day or two once you’ve regained your footing.

4.  Find a template or example.

I follow this tip even when I am on a writing roll.  When you have a template or example to use, you can more easily picture what your writing project should look like when completed. This helps you visualize the end and what you need to do to get there.  Moreover, the template can help you identify a small piece of the project that you can work on during timed writing sessions (Tip #2).

Fight against the frustration

Every writer loses their way. The difference in writers and everyone else is that writers get back after it.

It is easy to get frustrated, but cut yourself some slack. Frustration keeps you away from your writing goals and the satisfaction you will feel when you complete your manuscript.

So get back on the horse, try these tips, and get your writing groove back!