5 Ways to Get Out of a Writing Rut

Written by Emily Harstone | November 16, 2014

Slump, funk, and rut are all names I have heard used more than once to describe that feeling writers get of being stuck. The details differ depending on the author, however many describe it as not writing anything new. Instead they are rehashing the same topic over and over again. Or, even if they are capable of writing something new, they don’t want to, they don’t feel any joy when they think of writing. It is different than writers block because most writers still write during this period, they just don’t enjoy writing, and they don’t like the work they produce.

Ruts have various levels. Sometimes they can only affect the author a little, in other cases they can effect their work for years, decades even.  One can extricate oneself from a rut, particularly if you catch it early on. Below are 5 tips for how to get out of a writers rut.

1.Change Where You Write
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This may seem obvious but if you always write in the same spot, or even just in the same three coffee shops, these places may begin to lose their effectiveness as a writing environment.  This is not always the case, but it can be.

My advice is to get out of your house and write somewhere you have written before. If you have never written in a coffee shop before, try that. However I am more keen on writing in places where most people don’t write, such as museums, parks, the beach, or any place along those lines.

Even if you are still writing most of your work at home, or editing it there, generating some of the work while out and about should really help you write about new and different things.

2. Change When You Write

If you have always written in the morning, and you now find yourself dreading writing then, stop, don’t force yourself to do it. Instead change the time of day when you write. I know that sounds very simple, but sometimes that is enough to refresh your writing.

3. Take a Writing Class

Sometimes you just need to be encouraged by other writers and be given inspiration and concrete feedback from a teacher. We like to think that as writers we can manage on our own, but for our writing to grow we often need more feedback and a little bit of guidance.

4. Use Writing Prompts

Writing prompts can generate a lot of writing. They can also encourage you to write about things you have never even thought of before. I have had very interesting results from doing a writing prompt about unicorns.

I like to do a timed three minute prompt most days before writing. I write down a title, start a three minute timer, and then just write as fast as I possibly can. The results are usually terrible, but afterwards my writing is much better.

5. Participate in a Writing Challenge

Caitlin Jans wrote about this for our publication before in the article “The Importance Of Writing Challenges”. For more details you can read the article. Although it boils down to is this, when you set a challenge for yourself, like writing 30 poems in 30 days you end up producing a lot of work that you otherwise would not have and you end up writing about things that are new and different for you.