Writing a book has often been compared to giving birth, and in many ways manuscripts require the same constant adjustments from their authors—and prompt the same range of unique worries, joys, frustrations, and fears—as children do from their parents. Most of the authors I’ve worked with have said that they have to tweak their creative process in some way with every book.

Still, if you’re struggling with a manuscript, it can be hard not to feel discouraged or as if you’re failing at something that every other writer has already figured out. This can be especially true if the creative routines that have worked for you in the past no longer seem helpful.

If you’re feeling stuck, consider breaking out of your typical routine and trying something new. Depending on where you are in the writing process, this might look like:

  • Trying an outline, even if you’ve always avoided them
  • Brainstorming by hand or using voice notes to talk through ideas
  • Playing music, burning a candle, or doing something else to change the atmosphere of your writing space
  • Changing your writing spot, whether that’s moving to another room or getting out of your home entirely
  • Giving your mind time to wander while you walk, shower, clean, fold laundry, or do other tasks that busy your hands but not your thoughts
  • Venting about your manuscript to a sympathetic ear
  • Reading or listening to a book that reminds you of why you want to write
  • Reading others’ creative routines and writing advice (or books or websites or tweets) until you find something you’re interested in trying—or your eyes glaze over

Even if these exercises aren’t useful in the moment, you might find something that you can come back to in the future. Or maybe identifying what doesn’t work for you will help you to hone in on what does. 

If you still feel as if you’re hitting a brick wall, sometimes the best thing you can do is to give yourself permission to put the book away, take a break, and try again another day. Ultimately, writing a book is a marathon, not a sprint, and the only person you are racing against is yourself. Your book will be waiting for you when you are ready to return to it.

Your Editor Friend,

Julie

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