20 Ways to Get Out of Your Writing Rut

February 2, 2024

We’ve all been there. Especially with the first month of the year ending, high hopes for lofty writing goals have most likely (if you’re anything like me) tumbled to the ground. However, there are nine more months to the year to try and get your creativity rekindled, so in honor of SDWI’s 20th anniversary, here are 20 ways to get out of that lousy creativity drought. 


1. Create a writing playlist

You might already have one, but look up some good songs to get your juices flowing. Possibly tailor them to your current project or the musings you’ve been having. 


2. Collect some quotes on writing

Print them out and arrange them on your wall or a board, or make a desktop background. Add pictures that match your aesthetic or your project’s aesthetic. 


3. Read the last thing you wrote and write about it

Perhaps detail why you hate it. Maybe talk about where it should go or what you should change, ask questions of yourself, and think about the parts you love and why. 


4. Go outside and write down sensory images

Try bare feet and connecting with the earth. Use all your senses and write short, descriptive images. Perhaps use it as fodder for a poem? 


5. Look up write-with-me videos on YouTube—moral support! 

Sometimes even the feeling of someone watching you through the screen will keep you at it. If you can’t find a friend to write with you, this might be the next best thing. Here’s my favorite YouTuber’s (Ruby Granger) writing/study with me playlist: click here.


6. Rewrite in a different genre

Take something you’ve written and write it in a different genre, i.e. essay – poetry. Fiction – essay. Poetry – short story. This can exercise a different part of your creative brain that’s been left untouched!


7. Illustrate it

If you’re stuck on a work of fiction or any other genre, draw out what you want to happen instead of outlining (stick figures allowed). Use color and different mediums! Imagine it’s a movie: what would the characters do?


8. Go somewhere you’ve never been before and observe

Choose a new coffee shop, museum, beach, library, or spot on campus, and watch what goes on around you. What are your thoughts? What colors and objects do you see? Are there any interesting-looking people?


9. Eavesdrop

Sit in a busy area and write down all the lines of conversation you overhear. Include short descriptions of the people if you can. Don’t be nosey obviously, but open your ears more than you have before. Stories lie in the people around us.


10. Find 5 minutes 

As a busy college student, I understand the struggle to find time for anything other than the daily grind. Look at your schedule and find only five minutes where you can sit down and write something short. I bet you can do it! See if you can stick to the same period daily and create a routine.


11. Research something new to you

Wikipedia can be useful outside of academics. 🙂 Go down rabbit trails and see what you learn. What’s something you’ve been curious about? Spend 20 minutes researching something. 


12. Bring a notebook with you

Sometimes I forget ideas because I don’t have something to write them down on. Don’t forget your trusty notebook! It can come in handy when you’d otherwise be scrolling on social media. 


13. Challenge yourself to share a sentence a day on socials

If you’re a social media guru, or even if not, challenge yourself to share a sentence a day from something you’ve written—creative or otherwise! Having the larger accountability can help and also you might find some new writer friends!

14. Find people you admire and think are special and learn about them and their life

Do you have a family member or friend that is particularly special? Or find a new friend and ask them all about their lives — if they’re comfortable with it. 


15. Create a cozy mood

Light a candle, make yourself a hot drink (or iced if you prefer), and get a cozy blanket. If it’s warm, sit under a tree with a picnic blanket. Drink some lemonade. The atmosphere makes all the difference to get the juices flowing.


16. Handwrite—keyboards aren’t everything!

I know a lot of times people write solely on their laptops nowadays. But handwriting gets a whole other part of your brain working. It slows you down, making you ponder your words more carefully. Get a cute notebook and your favorite pen or pencil and jot down some thoughts. See where it takes you! It’ll also help to rest your eyes from screens for a bit. 🙂


17. Open up a book to a random spot 

Start reading. What do you notice? Write down words you like and their meaning. Take note of phrases that stand out out of context. Without being absorbed in the plot, what kind of craft elements can you pinpoint?


18. Write down everything you should/could/want to do instead of writing. Then write about that. 

Sometimes getting the things you think you should be doing down on paper and thinking through why you think you should be doing them can absorb some of the stress. It also can help you start writing, even if it’s lists about everything you’d rather be doing.


19. Get together with creative friends

The more is always merrier! Get a couple of friends together who like to be creative and go to a coffee shop, host a tea party, or bunker down in a library for a few hours of shared creative space. 


20. Give yourself grace. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect. Busy seasons of life can make the art of writing seem like a chore. I know I struggle with feeling overwhelmed all the time and can’t think of more words to say. Don’t force yourself to create Pulitzer Prize-worthy writing every time. Sometimes a brain dump or a prayer is just what you need. You’ve got this. 

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