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  • Karina Sokulski

Stuck in a Slump, the Ways to Cope

I doubt I have to quote this one for you to get the idea. It happens to us all, the dreaded slump, writer's block, lacking in inspiration, etc. It's happening to me right now, and boy is it frustrating.

Here I am, working on my book when I notice I've been going at an unmistakably glacial pace...for several days. It happens from time to time that you're desperate to write, but the mind says no. It's been an irritating slump to have to deal with these past few weeks, what with an increased workload, many (happy) family surprises continually pulling me from my keyboard and all manner of distractions to try to work through. The good news is, there are several different ways to work through a slump until all that bottled up inspiration can finally come bursting forth. Seeing as how I'm still working my way through this slump, concocting a little list of how best to deal with the situation may be just what I need to make it through.

1) Indulge in media similar to what you're working on

Sometimes it helps to indulge in the genre you're working on. Sometimes I summon that little lightbulb in my head just by taking a break and watching any entry in The Lord of the Rings films, or I'll pop in my copy of Dragon Age: Origins and just play through the campaign until I can mentally work through that plot hole that keeps bringing me to a halt. Sometimes it helps to draw inspiration from what others did in their (in the case of this example) fantasies to figure out what you can do in yours.

2) Read what you've written up to this point

No, we're not editing. Get that out of your head now. Sometimes, as cringe-worthy, as it is to read back to my unedited 1st draft, I often find a nugget of inspiration again where I started. I knew what my intentions were when I started, and thankfully, that shows when I need to look back when I get lost. Seriously, don't worry about editing. There's no shame in having to go back to go forward either. Sometimes I'm so adamant in churning out the content I've come up with; I forget to take that inspiration with me. Taking a look back at where you started, I've found, can help you figure out where you're trying to go.

3) Read a book (genre-related or not)

Reading anything good lately? Sometimes we get so stuck; we can't touch the keyboard or bare to pick up that pencil. So, take a break and bury yourself in that book you've been working on. I'm working on a fantasy project right now, but not always am I reading fantasy books at the same time. Sometimes you can find inspiration in genres that are entirely unrelated to the one you're working on. You know, new perspective and all that.

4) Do something else

Sometimes the best way to stop writing is to, well, stop writing. You can never force true art. I'm sure many others have said some variation of these words, but they're right. If you're to the point of trying to force inspiration (like I've been doing lately), then it's time just to let yourself wait for inspiration to come to you. You're out of steam, and you're just not summoning more. Well, guess it's time to get your blood pumping with a workout. Personally, I've been working on my gardening. Or finish that book you were reading. Sometimes, the brain needs to recharge.

5) Meditate

Here's one I do want to try, and maybe trying in the very near future. There are hundreds of apps, websites and podcasts out there that offer free guided meditation. A close friend has given me this recommendation on more than one occasion, and I need to give it a try. There's meditation not just for "finding a state of tranquility," but for many things; depression, anxiety, forgiveness, sleep, cooling down from workouts and even for inspiration. Meditating for inspiration has peaked my interest, and I'm sure interested in giving it a try.

The dreaded slump can be a drag, but this is an integral part of a writer's process. A writer's job is pretty demanding in the creativity department, but not just for the sake of writing words. Sometimes writer's block rears it's ugly head and beating it requires another form of creativity, we didn't know we'd need.

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