Article Writing: Advice on what to do when you’re uninspired

Recently, I had a reader of my blog ask me for advice on writing articles, specifically, how to stay focused and keep the words flowing. So this one is for you, Josette!

I remember back in college, I took a class called “Article and Essay Technique,” which I will draw on here. I’ve never been a writer who was particularly drawn toward journalism. (Too much research, and I hate the idea of interviewing strangers, ha!) I did, however, thoroughly enjoy writing personal essays. I loved creating stories that were based in memory and exploring the line between fact and fiction.

Since I don’t have a ton of experience writing articles, I’m going to approach this as I would when I can’t seem to get anything out on the page with my WIPs (works in progress). So, in no particular order, here’s my advice:

  • Step away from your computer, or put down your pen, and just forget about it. As irrational as this may sound, giving the creative side of my brain a break actually lets me come back refreshed and energized. I find that, subconsciously, my creative brain is still working, even when I’m not writing. Don’t feel guilty about spending a couple hours doing something unrelated to whatever you’re working on. Who knows where your inspiration may come from?
  • Change your scenery. Take your laptop to a cafe for a few hours or simply go to a different room in your house. Getting a different perspective may just spark your brain (or trick your brain) into writing anew.
  • Listen to music. I LOVE to listen to music when I write. I love it so much, it’s getting to the point where I CAN’T write unless I’ve got my favorite tunes playing.
  • Give yourself limits. Challenge yourself with writing sprints. Set a timer and write for that specific amount of time without judgement. Sometimes, writing around your topic helps you get to the meat. You’ve got to first get through the skin, muscle, and bone before you can see the marrow.
  • Outline. I’m guilty of nearly never outlining my WIPs, so this one I’m sticking in here only because I think for article writing it might help you get back to what’s important.
  • Be kind to yourself. Your first draft is going to suck. Accept it. Write what NEEDS to be written, then add in the magic later.
  • Reward yourself. Set goals and reach them. If you plan on writing a thousand words a day, give yourself a reward that’s equal to the effort. Maybe it’s something simple, like, “If I write a thousand words, I’m going to take an hour nap.” Or, “If I write a thousand words, I’m going to buy my favorite author’s new book on Amazon.” But if it’s feasible (and reasonable) maybe it’s more complex, “If I write a thousand words, I’m going to book a weekend getaway.” Decide for yourself what would satisfy.

This list is NOT exhaustive. But I hope it’s a good start! Let me know if you try one how it works out for you!

Have a writing question you want answered? Comment below (or contact me via email or social media) and I’ll do my best!

Happy writing!

-Rachael

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Musical thoughts 🎵

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Lemme talk about music. Music is a huge inspiration for me, and rarely do I write without something playing in the background. I think I’ve always been this way. Even in school, I studied and did my homework to music. It kept me focused. (I do struggle listening to music I love because it’s too distracting, unless there aren’t lyrics, then it’s okay!) 

I used to listen to Pandora, but with the invention of Spotify, I’ve since abandoned the platform. Spotify is great, but boy do those ads suck. (Oh gosh. They’re so repetitive. Of course, there is a premium version of Spotify you can buy for $9.99 for three months, which I think is a pretty good deal. Otherwise, I just turn the volume down on the ads.) I love how Spotify gives you a new “Discover” playlist every week. I will say it’s a bit of a hit or miss; however, I have found a plethora of songs that I love that way, so it is doing something right! 

I’ve got an eclectic taste in music, which I blame my dad for. When I was a kid, he’d drive me to school and wouldn’t allow me to change the station (*pout*). But I’m grateful for that because it forced me to listen to songs that weren’t mainstream. I have to admit, mainstream music doesn’t appeal to me anymore, unless it’s a Friday night and I want to dance. It isn’t that all Pop music is bad, but the majority of it isn’t good. There’s no thought in most of them–or it’s the same thought over and over. (I get it, you don’t want anything serious, okay?) 

The music I listen to while writing depends on the scene. If I’m writing something morose, then often I’ll search through my Classical playlist. Or I’ll find something slow and moody, usually Alternative. If I’m writing a fight scene, I’ll go to Classical too (you’d be surprised how dramatic it can be, in fact, there’s a sub-genre called “epic,” which you should definitely check out–“Audiomachine” or “Two Steps from Hell” make beautiful music for epic battles) or search for some EDM (electronic dance music). 

It’s all about finding whatever suits the mood of the scene. It might take some experimentation, but don’t be afraid to go to genres you’d normally not listen to, you might be surprised at how much writing you can get done with it playing in the background, filtering into your subconscious. Give it a chance; if it doesn’t work, turn it off or switch to a different playlist! No harm done. 

What are your favorite songs to listen to while writing? Or, do you have to write in silence? I’d love to hear from you!