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5 Ways to Keep Writing When You Want to Quit

Content Marketing

You want to finish a draft — no, you need to finish — but you’ve been slumped in front of your monitor for what seems like eternity with no results.

What should you do?

Quit?

No!

You can power through writing slumps. Here are five ways to keep working during times you feel like giving up.

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Stand up

Sometimes even a slight shift in perspective can get the ball rolling again. In you’ve been sitting all day, set up an ad-hoc stand up desk. Not only could this move potentially save your life, but you may find that you’re one of several writers who need to stand while they work.

Put the writing on the wall

If you can’t seem to produce the right sentences but you don’t want to step away from your work, try drafting your idea on a whiteboard through symbols or brief phrases. You may need more time to work through concepts before you’re ready to assign them words.

Start talking

When you’re really stuck for written words, express your ideas out loud and record it. Then, play it back and listen for any key ideas and well-said phrases that could work well in your content. You could also use an edited version of the recording for a podcast or video, depending on the format.

Aim small

I used to run track, but I was terrible at mustering up motivation to train. I got around my sluggish tendencies by saying to myself at first: “I’ll only run half a mile.” Once running, I couldn’t actually bring myself to stop; I always finished the run.

The same thing works for writing. Mulling over long-form content in its entirety can overwhelm you. Instead, pick a subtopic and aim to write 75 words. You’d be surprised at how that can quickly blossom into multiple subtopics and, eventually, a complete draft.

Silence your inner editor

Get around perfectionist tendencies by typing nonstop and then doing heavy copy editing later. If you find that difficult, try out a productivity tool like Write or Die. It’s designed to make you crank out a first draft or face grim consequences. If there’s a lull in typing, the tool springs into action; it reminds you to keep writing or, more severely, starts deleting your work until typing resumes.

Next time you want to concede defeat to a half-empty document, resist the urge. Instead, get creative about your writing process. Find a different way to approach your task and push on.

Comments on this Article: 2

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  1. Kathryn, those are great tips, and you made me laugh–still laughing. I love the productivity tool idea “write or die,” and I will surely try it. I do have a very bothersome inner editor; “Stand up desk” is good too–reminds me of what I do when I am stuck and I am facing a deadline: I wash windows or anything I can find that needs cleaning, and it works; “Aim small” does work for me every time, and I do end up doing much more than I aimed; I have found that using “Putting the writing on the wall” or doing the same exercise on paper does help but only to a certain extent. You can waste time going off into a different direction. I have found that it works only when you feel that you need to clarify the concepts that you are using, and then you must stop. I know intuitively when it’s time to stop. I guess we all react differently to that exercise; “Start talking” — no, not for me, I can’t stop! Thank you for your different tips and for giving me a reason to laugh. You have made my day.

    • Glad you liked the tips! I agree, sometimes it’s easy to go off on another direction when you revisit concepts on whiteboards, etc. My go-to technique is “aim small.” Usually does the trick!

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