Tuesday, May 31, 2011

how to get out of a rut

Yes, yes. Writing is liberating, fun, didactic, etc. But it can also test you the way anything else can. It can send you into slumps, like the one I've been in for the past week. I couldn't quite figure out why this particular weight arrived. There weren't any tragic events, harsh words, or tangible pitfalls. Yet it existed, lodged into the pit of my stomach and infiltrating everywhere else.

So instead of coming to a diagnosis, I thought of devising a treatment.

In case anyone else has or will go through this, here is what's helping me climb out of the rut:


1. Read something from a completely unfamiliar genre (for me, this is an economics textbook that I have to read before my trip but its taught me a lot about the craft! Short stories and poetry also help...)

2. Take a different route to work or walk somewhere you've never been
(This exposed me to new sights, smells, and colors)

3. Talk to someone wiser and beyond you in your own projects

4. Change the workspace (I usually need quiet but the hustle of the coffee shop did the trick)

5. Do a different form of exercise (thank you, yoga)

6. Watch a comedy (recommend Bridesmaids)

7. Don't read or write anything. Distance does wonders for everything.

8. In contrast to number 2, go somewhere you used to go as a child and feel the differences and similarities.

9. Garden, sketch, or bake. Using a part of your brain that requires mechanical and creative thought can be quite stimulating.

10. Camp out in the bookstore. Sometimes seeing those other books alive and well can push you in the right direction.

11. Talk to people who will comfort you as much as you talk to those who will give you a good kick where you need it.

17 comments:

  1. I will keep these points in mind, the next time I end up in a rut. I have just emerged from it (wish you had posted these points earlier).

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  2. I am just emerging as well, Rachna. Hope your writing is going well now!!

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  3. Those are all great ideas! Taking a walk usually helps me, or reading great books.

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  4. I've been in a rut with my actual writing (not blogging) for months and months :-/ I'm definitely going to try to take some of these suggestions!

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  5. These are all great ideas. I've tried nearly all of them at one time or another. I think some of us are more naturally inclined to hit rough patches with writing--probably a "tends to take self too seriously" thing, at least for me at times.

    A couple I'd add would be "read old journals", "dig through your idea files", "play around on Wikipedia, following whatever links interest you," and "create visuals for all the settings and characters in your stuck story--wardrobes, interiors, enviroments."

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  6. Ooooh I will definitely keep these things in mind next time I am stuck in a rut. Thanks for sharing. =)

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  7. These are great suggestions. I'll keep them in mind as I'll have to take a forced break from writing while I'm on vacation. Hope your rut goes away soon!

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  8. I am a strong believer of number 4. It's such a simple change that makes a huge difference! Thanks for the tips :)

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  9. I agree with all of these! Especially #4, 9, and 10. Great tips. I hope you're out of your rut now, Saumya!

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  10. I love this list! I need to do ALL those things! When I'm in a slump I tend to just pick up another book, when what I really need is getting out to someplace new (or an old favorite place), get exercise, listen to someone else talk for a while (instead of the voices in my head!!!) and you're right on with gardening, baking and sketching. When is the last time I sketched? THank you!!!

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  11. I'll need to kickstart my ideas again soon. Glad you're climbing out of the rut. And for watching a comedy, I also recommend Kung Fu Panda 2.

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  12. Ugh, I hate writing slumps. This is such awesome advice, though--I must see Bridesmaids now, clearly. :)

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  13. These are excellent anti-slump tips, thanks!

    My friends and I are seeing Bridesmaids this weekend. Can't wait!

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  14. Ah, so excited for you, Julie!

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  15. Great Ideas, I plan on doing a couple of these things today and next week.

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  16. All of these things help. I especially agree with the one about doing something else creative that has no attachment to writing.

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  17. These are great ideas.. I especially agree with you on #2 and #7. :)

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