by Meg Dowell
You’ve been sitting here for half an hour, trying to force yourself to write. You haven’t felt like doing it much, lately. So much so that you’re starting to question whether writing is something you even want to keep doing. Is it worth it? Are you even good enough at it to make it to the next level?
Everyone falls into ruts. It’s often confused with this term you might recognize: ‘writer’s block.’ (For the record, if you don’t already know this – I do not believe writer’s block exists, and will meet every argument you throw at me with evidence that you are wrong … roar.) In these places, you suffer from extreme boredom, doubt and a lack of motivation.
It happens. But do you know why?
It’s actually not about what you’re doing wrong – but instead, what you’re not doing enough of.
It all begins with laziness.
That’s right: you’ve gotten lazy. I’m sorry to say it, but let’s be real here. You’re too comfortable, and you know it. A writing life with zero stress is great!!! Until it gets boring, and you start throwing out every idea you have because, among many reasons, you just don’t feel like tackling it “right now.”
Every writer needs some kind of challenge to keep them going, and you can’t always rely on someone or something else to give that to you. You also have to know how to best challenge yourself.
Can you start posting once every two weeks on a blog covering a topic that requires more in-depth research and careful planning? Can you write and publish an essay you know people are going to get angry about in the comments – even though that makes you uncomfortable? What about writing a novel featuring a main character with beliefs you don’t support?
Would all these things be too hard … or just what you need to get out of your writing funk?
There are some instances in which writing will remain easy – it’s supposed to be freeing, enjoyable and good for the soul, after all. But it can get too easy. You start to confuse boredom with feeling like you don’t want to do this whole writing thing anymore. It’s not that you don’t want to. It’s that your mind needs creative stimulation beyond what you’re currently giving it.
It’s up to you to push yourself. No one can do that for you. Write or work on that thing you’ve been putting off because it’s “too much of” a challenge. Challenging yourself is the most effective way to grow and thrive in the writing world. Keep writing the same old things, stay comfortable, avoid worry and stress, and you’re going to stay at the exact same level you’re at right now, for a very long time.
If that’s what you want, go ahead. Keep doing what you’re doing. But if you really want to go after success, if you really want to earn it, go above and beyond. Push yourself farther than you think you can handle, in terms of storytelling. Dare to test your own limits as a creator. Everyone’s results are different, but you just might be pleased with yours.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.