If Jeter can emerge from his hitting slump, I can emerge from my writing slump

Today, for the first time in a month, I sat down to write. I decided that part of my problem is that I’ve gotten way too far into my head. I have that syndrome I’ve heard that often afflicts sophomore novelists, whereby now that you are a professional, you try to write like one, rather than just write. I’ve been wanting to write this novelette for a long, long time, but I’ve been stuck in a rut on it for a variety of reasons. I keep trying to write the same scenes in the same way. Today I did something different.

I opened up a blank Google Docs document (as opposed to Scrivener) and just started writing. I had none of my notes for the story, none of the old scenes at hand. I tried to forget everything about what I had already done and just write. What I wrote was first draft quality, but it was fun. I didn’t feel stymied or stuck. I didn’t worry if I was being clever enough. I remembered that for me, the purpose of a first draft is to get the rough story on paper. It is the second draft where I usually have the most fun, cleaning things up, trimming, adding color and details. But the first draft, I just wanted to feel loose and at east.

Today I felt loose and at ease and I was pleased with the scene that I wrote.

So tomorrow, I’ll try for another scene. No target word count, no particular agenda. I just want to get the next scene in the story written. And I won’t worry about the next day. At this moment, I feel energized and eager to write tomorrow. And maybe after I’ve finished writing tomorrow, I’ll want to write again the next day.

Emerging from a writing slump is very similar to emerging from a hitting slump. You aren’t trying to do much, just make contact. Even a productive out can put an end to a difficult series of at bats. The same is true for writing, I think. Today I had a productive “at bat”. I’m going to try for the same tomorrow.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.

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