From the Desk of the Editor: Squashing Your Inner Critic and Other Fun Ways to Fix Your Creative Dry Spell

Filed in From the Desk of... by on March 13, 2013 3 Comments

Xulon Press Blog | Man with an ideaThere is nothing more exciting than penning a novel, poem, essay, prose, blog or script. Any writer looking to complete a piece of work suffers from highs and lows in the writing process – from the sweet rush of ideas that flood the soul at random times of the day, month or even years, to the dull moments that arise when trying to coax the writing process along. Here’s a list of ideas that can help you breeze through your moments of blockage. This is not in any particular order of importance; feel free to experiment with some or all ideas based on what works for you.

1)  Dabble in self-discipline. I stumbled across a quote on writing that emphasized the disciplinary aspects involved in the creative process. Many of us writers wait for inspiration to hit us when we least expect it, (and often times, it does) but what about moments when we are drawing a blank? Allowing yourself to sit down every day, at the same time and the same place allows your mind to recognize that it’s time to write. Many times, the hardest act of writing is to write, but if you make it a routine, ideas may flow easier. What can help writers get through dry days is the commitment to their craft. Giving yourself deadlines to finish elements of your piece can also produce a healthy amount of pressure to help you buckle down.

2)  Inhale and exhale. It’s helpful to read poems, novels or watch movies to help you feel inspired. I had an English teacher tell me “Reading to gain inspiration is essential. It’s like inhaling. Whatever writing you produce that stems from what you’ve read is exhaling.” Such a simple statement has proven true. When I am creatively dry, I do my research. I notice how excited I feel when I am studying pieces of art or writing I strongly admire. The thrill of inspiration that stems from your most valued book, poem, play or movie can have a special place in your writing process and get you moving.

3)  Google it! As mundane as this may sound, Google is a great gateway for displaying innovative writing prompts. Online writer’s forums can also give writers a variety of ideas they can utilize to maintain their creative edge. There are endless ways the Internet search engine can lead you to new worlds of innovation, keeping your creative juices flowing. There are also a variety of essays and articles (and podcasts as well) on writer’s block from notable writers, as well as upcoming writers that can keep you inspired.

4)  Get out the house! Take a walk and people watch. Many creative types find inspiration by seeing life unfold before their eyes. Being around people and observing their interactions can give you ideas on how characters in your work can interact with one another. You can also base your characters on mannerisms you see people reenact while you watch them from afar.

5)  Use social media. Blog about your writing process and pose open-ended questions with examples for your audience/followers/subscribers to gain unbiased critiques on your development. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about possible scenarios in your story on your twitter or Facebook page. Examples of such questions include:

  • “Would it be realistic if a character in my upcoming book did this or that?”
  • “Is this particular action or statement too cliché?”
  • “What do you think of this image of this character as he or she does this in this story?”

Blogging about your writing process can also open doors for writers to give you input on their experiences, or act as a forum to generate audience support when you need it most.

6)  Squash your inner critic. I have saved this one for last because it is very substantial. Often times, it is very easy to make excuses for why we shouldn’t be writing, however, many of these excuses are nothing short of fear. Our inner critic can be that influence which compares us to the likes of the deceased, yet memorable writers who we assume never had any challenges penning their pieces. Silencing this negative presence will enable you to have the ambition and confidence to continue moving forward in your writing. Notice what thoughts arise when you decide to begin writing. Are they negative? Do you think “What if” thoughts, or talk yourself out of writing? If so, I want you to try this little exercise.

Imagine you and your inner critic sitting together at a table. As you begin to write, your inner critic approaches you with critical remarks, discouraging you from completing your current sentence. Now, I want you to imagine yourself interrupting your critic and telling him or her, “I will tell my story the best way I see fit. It doesn’t have to be perfect.” Argue back with that critic, until he or she backs down. Then, keep writing with a smile on your face.

Be sure to hit “Subscribe” in the top right corner or “Like” the Xulon Press Facebook page, dear readers! Interested in hearing from other Xulon employees?  Be sure to check out the other entries in our “From the Desk of…” series!


About the Author ()

Krystina Murray is a Staff Editor at Xulon Press with over six years of editing experience. When she isn't helping writers improve their manuscripts, she devotes her time to crafting poetry and short stories, maintains an exciting food blog and completes copy writing advertisements for small businesses.

Comments (3)

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  1. avatar Gail Ingersoll says:

    I found this helpful as there are times my writing goes in drifts…like snow; sometimes I am so piled up with writing, I think it will go on forever, then….a dry spell. I am taking a creative writing class at college and find it invigorating. I’ve never had my work critiqued before and I find myself excited at every thing the teacher tells me about the story/poem or play I write for class. She is encouraging me to take my stories and turn them into poems since she says I do poety so well. I’ll give it a try…Thank you for this site; the suggestion of reading is something I do and it does give me ideas.

    • Hi Gail. That’s a beautiful metaphor.I hope you enjoy the writing process, your critiques and continue to stay enthusiastic about your creative writing. I’m glad you found something in this blog that speaks to you. We have many great writing tips we offer readers, so feel free to pay us another visit! Have a good day.

  2. Thanks for the tips, especially on discipline . Great ones there.

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