Get Inspired Mondays, Writing

Curing Your Writing Apathy

Last week we talked about writing apathy — a debilitating and write-threatening disease that affects the will to write.  If the thought of sitting at your computer for an hour leaves you whimpering for a copy of Us Weekly, you may be experiencing symptoms of this serious condition.  For a more comprehensive list of the warning signs including: neglect of duties, lying, lawbreaking, and personality changes, click here.

Thankfully, there is a cure. The following remedies, plus a swift kick from a trusted reader,  should help bring your writing health back to its optimum level.

Accept a Challenge: Those with a competitive spirit might respond well to raising the bar in their writing life. Creating deadlines, entering a writing contest, or simply making yourself accountable for daily word goals are all elixirs to battling writing apathy. I’ve found the #1KWordChallenge (where I’m dared to write at least 1,000 words in an hour) increases my output, and also helps silence my internal editor. Check out this post by author Jenny Torres Sanchez for the deets.

Read a Master: While nursing your illness, it could be helpful to read one of your old favorites, or to re-read a book on craft that has moved you to write in the past. Reading superb writing can inspire you to dig a little deeper, and, anyway, you need to get those fingers moving before the atrophy sets in.

Read a Disaster: Just like great writing can inspire you to similar greatness, bad writing gives the message that, “If this yokel somehow got on the shelf at my book store, then maybe I can, too!” At minimum, you’ll need to start writing again to drown out the lasting echoes of dialogue tags gone wild.

Try a Writing Prompt: If your apathy has left you cold for new ideas, there are some interesting ways to get writing again. Fiction writer, Christi Craig, sometimes starts with an unusual word (from Wordsmith.org, or otherwise), and uses it to create a piece of flash fiction. Memoirist, E. Victoria Flynn, participates in “Throw Me Thursday,” where she asks the Twitterverse to throw her a prompt. Find what kind of catalyst works for you, and then get writing.

Get Out, You Aspiring Hermit: Often, a bad case of writing apathy begs for a change of scenery. Go for a walk. Eavesdrop at the mall. Take a trip to your local museum (you know, the really local one that gets about five visitors a year). Listen. Observe. Take notes. Just beware of mall cops.

Find a Writing Buddy: If all else fails, turn to a critique group or writing friends for support. Don’t have a group? Then participate in an online chat, or head to your library. You can even search the blogosphere, grab a mentor by their coattails, and hope that they’ll drag you back to writing health. Writing is a mostly solitary venture, but regular checkup’s with your peers can kill apathy germs before they set in.

~Whichever remedy you try, make sure that your day involves at least fifteen minutes of old-fashioned BIC (butt-in-chair). This, along with the proper dose of any of the suggestions above, will help cure even the worst case of writing apathy.

Also, chocolate and your (legal) vice-of-choice can’t hurt.

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This post was part of Get Inspired Monday! — a series created to help you dig into your week and find inspiration in unexpected places.

*Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

42 thoughts on “Curing Your Writing Apathy”

  1. I completely agree with “accept a challenge.” I’m an edit-as-I-go type person and I still haven’t re-read what I wrote during the #1kwordchallenge, but it was sort of exciting to not care, to just go with the flow.

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  2. Amanda,

    Thanks for the mention today. I can’t say enough about word prompts. Also, what works for me, that goes along with your tip to read a master, is watching a good movie. I watched HEREAFTER recently, and a story like that – one that keeps me up well past my bedtime – is the kind of inspiration that gets me moving again too.

    I’m loving your Get Inspired series! Thanks for another great post.

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    1. I always look forward to your flash fiction, Christi.

      Yes, I agree that good movies, as well as documentaries, sit-com’s…30 Rock, Woot!, etc. can also help you get out of a creative funk.

      Thanks for your kind comments!

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  3. These are great ideas! I especially like read a disaster (hadn’t ever considered that) and get out — I don’t think I do that nearly enough! Thanks for a great post! p.s. I also like creativecopychallenge.com for writing prompts. Quick and fun!

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  4. Amanda,

    Thanks for the word of mention! All of these suggestions are terrific. Reading on a “sick day” is some of the best medicine, even if it’s a guilty pleasure. I recently came down with a terrible case of Local Politics and my writing brain just seized right up. Returning to Throw me Thursday reminded me how important, and delectable, the process of writing is.

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    1. HA! Loved this — “came down with a terrible case of Local Politics.” Sometimes our brains needs to focus on something other than writing. Glad you’re right back to it, though.

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  5. I love this post, especially the bit about eavesdropping. Some of the most inspirational writing moments spring from real-life voyeurism. Maybe that’s why we write–so we have an excuse to peek into the lives of the people around us.

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  6. i can’t tell you how many books i’ve read and been like ‘really?! this was published?!!’ definitely makes me feel better and gets me writing again.

    ps- i really love this blog, amanda. 🙂

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  7. Even tv can help for inspiration. I just blogged about how last night’s Big Love finale was a lesson in how great endings can make up for mediocre middles. I also think reading the “masters” is a great way of learning how to do things right. Plus, reading them will just make your life better in general. 🙂

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  8. I like the suggestion about reading the masters. Great writers are great readers! Inspiration can come from anywhere.

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  9. You know what else helps? Reading those books that get sent to you for review.

    Really?

    Published?

    This one belongs straightaway to the check out line racks at the WalMart cashier’s lane. As a tofer.

    As in, 2fer5bucks.

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  10. Thanks for the tips!

    I used to be hit more by apathy years ago. I would go on a week long reading marathon, and it seemed to help. I would be inspired to write by reading great books.

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  11. These are great tips, Amanda. I’ve got a manuscript I need to revise and hand in, and I just can’t make myself do it, and I usually like revising. Oh, well, onward and upward.

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  12. GREAT suggestions Amanda. I am so excited about the direction your blog is going. You’re gonna be big–scratch that. You already are! Thanks. I just read some Chekov today and it has inspired me to keep writing. Reading other people’s work is a great inspiration, too. Especially your favorite people.

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