Monday, June 28, 2010

When the Well Runs Dry

I just spent the last two weeks at beach camp—with no Internet access. Trust me, it was a blessing and a curse. I did actually spend a good portion of the time working. I was there to teach a class on self-esteem and to help chaperone. The first week my group consisted of middle school girls and the second week it was high school girls. It was a great two weeks, but I’ve had to work much harder to be productive today. And that fact leads me to today’s topic. How to write when you’re not in the mood.

It happens to us all, but that very issue is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. I don’t believe whether or not you get paid for something you write is more defining than the fact that you’re willing to sit down and produce even if you’re not in the mood. If you have the discipline and drive to write through the mood swings I’m certain the income will follow.

At this point in my career I don’t have a choice, I have deadlines and commitments (twelve deliverables by Friday). I have to be productive today, even if it takes eleven hours instead of my usual seven. But what about those of you who don’t have an outside push to keep you on track? Are there things you can do to help fight off the lack of motivation? Absolutely. All professional writers have things they do to help when inspiration runs dry. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Set deadlines. Even if you don’t have a client waiting for an article, give yourself a deadline. Then, write it down. It’s easy to fudge a deadline when it’s just in your head.
  • Set a weekly writing goal. If you write fiction, it may be a word goal. If you write articles or devotions, it may be a finished product goal. (like, I’ll have 2 finished devotions every week)
  • Find a critique group or partner. If you’re meeting regularly with someone, you’re more apt to be producing regularly. What if you don’t know any writers nearby to meet with? Look for an online group.
These three things will keep you on track when the writing muse is absent. What are some things you’ve found to help when you run low?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Thanks Edie for the reminders we all need! These are key, and then the "time in the chair" will be productive and the results amazing!
    Thanks for all you do for so many.
    "Simply" Sue

  2. Thank you for a great reminder! It seems the less time I have, the more difficult it is for me to get focused. I needed to be reminded that I just need to do it!

  3. When my well runs dry, I do a couple of different things:
    1. Go for a walk or drive. I'm usually inspired with fresh words when I see something in God's creation.
    2. Read. Study. Find something new to write about. Add more knowledge to my writing know-how.
    3. Use prompts given by someone else. I gained a list of these at BRMCWC. Pulling from memories generally starts a whole new piece.

  4. Great ideas, ladies! Also remember not to beat yourself up when it gets difficult. Going through dry times doesn't mean we're doing something wrong.