I'm coming out of an epic two and a half year slump, and trying to recharge some of the things I used to do. This happens to everyone at least once in their life, and sometimes more than that. Slumps (or unproductive, often depressing periods of time) can be very demotivating, and require tremendous strength to pull yourself out of. Here are some of the things I tried when I was at the worst of mine.
Change the Scenery
Sometimes, something as small as a new paint color on the walls is enough to make you feel better about your work. For writers, it's important to do your work in a place where you're comfortable, and the color on the walls affects you and your mood more than you might realize. Other ways to change the scenery would be to go to a local coffee shop to work, or just change which room you're in. A change in scenery can make a big difference in your mood, and subsequently improve your productivity.
Work on Something Else
I know we all have projects to get done, but forcing yourself to work on something won't do you any favors, nor will it do your work justice. Writing (and other academic activities) requires a clear head, and novels require a certain mindset. The characters need to speak to you, and if that isn't happening, you'll frustrate yourself. So switch gears. Write a blog post, or do something non-writing related. I started playing Magic: the Gathering again, and though this does take up some time, I find devoting some time to a leisure activity can help bring your mind back to a productive place.
Take a Break
I released my last book in spring of 2014, and though I participated in NaNoWriMo last fall, I pretty much tossed everything I wrote then. I've also been trying to get The Spell Breaker done, but I needed to back away from everything writing and just focus on sorting out my life. This should definitely not be a permanent situation though. Taking a break from your work, and coming back to it when you start to feel better can help lift you up even higher, and you might just find that it was just what you needed in order to finish that big project.
Talk to somebody about what's bothering you. I'm a very lucky person in that I have a very understanding wife who listens to me, and helps me through this stuff. I don't know what I would do without her. Find somebody to talk to. It doesn't have to be your spouse, or even a family member. It could be a friend, coworker, or even a complete stranger. Seeking professional help is also helpful, especially if you find yourself falling into a deep depression. Luckily, my slump never went that far, but it could have, and it does for some people. If this is happening to you, you're not alone; there are loads of people who are willing to listen. Give them a chance.
Don't Give Up
Whatever you do, don't ever give up on yourself. It's challenging to break out of a downward spiral, but it can be done, and you definitely don't have to do it alone. Keep telling yourself that you can do it, and keep looking for a way out of the depression. If none of the things in this post work for you, search for other answers, or try them again. Yesterday's setbacks can become tomorrows gains. Above all else, know that you and your work are worth it. Success leaves you with a very good feeling, no matter how small the success may be. If you've been having trouble just getting up in the morning, and you're out of bed now, that's a win.
If you have any other suggestions as to how to break free from the slump, please share them below in the comments. You never know when your suggestion could help get somebody else's life on track.
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