When Struggling to Find the Words

Photo credit: mdave on Flickr
So I've been first drafting again, now for the second time this year (and, come to think of it, second time in a couple months), which is both exciting because after perma-revision mode for so long, it's nice to be in draft-all-the-things mode, but also scary (because drafting), and a little tiring (because I want to draft something else this year too). Overall it's been really fun to dive into the new project—a project I've wanted to work on for a really long time—but I've also noticed the words, as of late, have not been coming so easily.


Once upon a time, I used to be able to write 1,000 words in 30 minutes, with the aid of Write or Die and music (and 30 minute breaks). With my last WIP, I averaged around 700 words in 25 minutes, with a 5 minutes break, so about 1,400 words in an hour, assuming both sprints ended up in the average range. This time I've been averaging lower—sometimes in the 500 range per 25 minute sprint on a good day, or closer to 300ish words per 25 minute sprint on a not-so-good day.

Of course, even on the not-so-good days, the word count isn't awful, but it does feel noticeably slower—and more difficult, to me.

These harder-to-write days, weeks, manuscripts even happen to everyone regardless of experience level. And while I'm pretty sure I know why the struggle is happening more frequently than usual with this particular manuscript, the struggle is still...well. It's a struggle.

The good and bad news with this is while there isn't really a *cure* for difficult-to-write days (or manuscripts), it's not a death sentence, either. Assuming you stick with it and force yourself to keep writing even when the words are being less-than-friendly, the words will come. But it also means you maybe need to be patient with yourself, or give yourself more manageable goals. I moved my goal for this first draft a couple days to lower the daily word count I needed to meet my self-imposed deadline, for example, which has helped. I've also forced myself to take those five-minute breaks between writing sprints, because they make it easier to then dive in to the next 25 minute block.

The long and short of it is this happens to everyone, and while there isn't a guaranteed insta-fix, the best you can do is keep with it and know this isn't happening because you're manuscript is terrible, or you're terrible, or your writing skills are terrible, etc. If anything, it just means welcome to the club—writing is hard, and we've all been there.

What do you do when struggling to get the words down? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Author @Ava_Jae shares her experience struggling to find the words when first drafting. (Click to tweet

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