perfection, procrastination, writer's block, and 10 tips to get out of this slump.
Okay, we all know I struggle with perfectionism, slight OCD, and an insatiable thirst for order and lists (read more about that here). I’m working on it, I swear! Just tell me I’m not alone, please. More often than not, these characteristic gifts, yet simultaneous flaws, get in the way of my writing.
Has that ever happened to you?
Have you spent too much time waiting for the perfect topic, with the perfect outline to accompany it? For the perfect time of day, the perfect amount of time to dedicate to it, the perfect ambiance, and the perfect playlist? How about the perfect beverage by your side to keep you alert and hydrated through what we hype-up to believe is going to be quite the endeavor? And perhaps complete “perfection” with the perfect candle to ignite and unite it all for the perfectly imprisoned words to spill onto the screen?
And even when perfection is at its peak, have you wondered why those words end up staying safely inside an air-tight, spill proof, sippy cup in your mind? Not even a drip or drop to show for it. All just to excuse yourself from showing up because perfection won’t show up for your date either. Ugh, me too!
The problem though, in order to honestly express and create in this space, I might need to embrace the mess a little. I need to try new things – not the same old comfortable routine-y stuff - stretch myself quite a bit, and finally recognize that perfection is not a real thing (at least not on this side of Heaven). Isn’t that really where growth and consistency lie, outside of perfection and comfort?
If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve let some unnecessary and lengthy time slip in between my last post and this one. Life gets weird when you’re in charge of your own deadlines. Procrastination, anyone? Thankfully though, here I am, showing up. And if in any case I’m “preaching to the choir,” and you too can relate in this habitual madness, then I’m glad you showed up here too!
In true Lauren fashion, I have compiled a list to help us out of our slump. Because this is just as much for me as it is for you.
When you start believing perfection is an attainable thing, when writer’s block hits you hard like a brick wall, and when you notice another procrastination flare up, refer to this list to aid you back to reality, creativity, and consistency.
10 Tips To Get Out Of This Writing Slump
First things, first...
1. Say a little prayer before any time spent writing. (Or working at any craft for that matter.) It’s only by God’s grace that you have this desire and gifting, so it’s all for His glory. And it’s only by His power that you can successfully exercise it.
2. Exercise it. Writing is like a muscle. The more you stretch it, work it, and challenge it, the stronger it gets, even when you don’t feel like it. And remember, nobody tones up or gets “swoll” without consistency.
3. Just write. It’s not scary and doesn’t have to be this intimidating endeavor. Write sloppily, write badly, write like you’re having a conversation with your best friend. Just get something down. A first draft is better than no draft.
4. Give it at least 20 minutes per day. Don’t wait for enough time to present itself, make time for it. Those four free hours straight rarely do show up, if ever. You’d be surprised how much you can write in seven 20-minute increments!
5. Take breaks. If you do get those hours set aside for writing, step away for 10-20 minute breaks. (I’ve even stepped away for days at time!) This will keep your mind fresh, alert, more likely to trim unnecessary material, and you may come back with a clearer vision for your piece.
6. Read your favorite blogger or author prior to writing. Maybe you have found a voice similar to yours, or perhaps a theme or style of writing you admire. Take five minutes beforehand to get inspired by your favorites!
7. Skip around. If you’re stuck on where to start or how to transition, write the juicy or easy stuff first and let it all flow outward from there. You can play with the puzzle pieces after!
8. Switch up your atmosphere. If you’re used to writing at home but simply can’t find the motivation anymore, try a coffee house, your garden or patio, a local library, or plan a writing date with a writer friend - maybe a change of venue is all you need!
9. Play some music. Drown out the sounds that so easily distract by creating or following a playlist that relaxes you, helps with focus, and aids in setting the mood! For me, this is “Coffee Table Jazz”, “Vintage Starbucks”, or anything classical on Spotify!
10. Wonder while you write. Don’t forget to enjoy writing. Admire how your words have the potential to encourage, teach, inspire, and paint a beautiful tapestry of truth, humor, and imagination.
I hope this helps you knock out your next great read! If there's anything that helps you and is not included here on this list, comment below!
P.S. For more tips on writing, pick up a copy of Everybody Writes
by Ann Handley