Monday, January 16, 2012

Getting Back in the Groove

I think happens to all of us at some point or other.

We lose our groove.

Writing-wise, I mean. I don’t think I’ve ever found my groove for dancing. I can play a mean conga drum, but dancing? Nah! It’s one of those moments when my children cower in total humiliation – or for the younger ones, abject confusion :-)

The status of my writing groove has been questionable since the end of NaNoWriMo. After devoting every second to writing – and working it around my horribly busy schedule, I was exhausted. The craziness (and wonderful-ness) of Christmas came and went. THEN I started up my new university semester this month. My groove got lost somewhere along the way.

I truly believe that each writer has a typical way to ‘feed’ his/her groove, and many times, if we don’t pay attention to the type of creativity God birthed within us it can squelch our desire.

Some writers are ‘Stay the Course’ writers. They start a novel and methodically make it from beginning to end. Rarely do other story ideas distract them from their course, but if they feed the ‘new’ idea too much, they may lose their focus and drive for their WIP.

Some writers are “Plan first, Write Later”. They collect all of their research, data, character sketches, plotting charts, and scene by scene synopsis until the shape of the story is set, and THEN they write.

Other writers are “Tackle-Plan Writers”. They may be Pantsters who start their story and stop at various points along the way to gather research, reshape the novel, and solidify what they have.

Then there are people like me. I refer to my writing style as the “Doug-Writer”. Ever seen the moving “Up”. The dog on the movie up, named Doug, is constantly distracted by a ‘squirrel’. Well, that’s kind of like me. I am at my writing BEST when I can swing between two (or sometimes three) novels. Here’s why. I can write on one until I hit a wall, then switch and feel those wonderful creative juices flowing…until I hit a wall, then switch back. It REALLY suits my innate writing needs. (This type can also be referred to as Writer-ADHD)

When I’ve tried to be a Stay the Course writer, I lose my creativity and ‘fire’ (as Cathy Marie Hake calls it) after about two months. I really need to go ‘where the fire is’.

Along the way I’ve also discovered some practical ways to get my writing groove back. Here are a few:

1. Pray (duh…I wish I could say I always go to this one first.)

2. Read FABULOUS books from FABULOUS authors like….Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Liz Curtis Higgs, Siri Mitchell, Laura Frantz, Denise Hunter, Julie Klassen, Janice Hanna Thompson, or Susan May Warren.

3. Daydream – I have a very vivid imagination. When left to its own devices, it’s one of the things that gets me into trouble with too many stories  But it is always a way to reignite those creative sparks. Daydreaming about my wip can jumpstart my writing.

4. Watch an inspiring movie. I usually like to stick to a movie genre that is somehow related to my wip. Gleaning inspiration from other stories is a MUST for any writer, I believe.

5. Brainstorm with fellow writers. The Alley Cats are wonderful brainstormers, and one conversation with them can sometimes be the encouragement and the jumpstart I need to hop back into one story or other :-)


Do you have some more writing styles to add to the list?

What do you do to get your writing groove back?
Pepper Basham is a pastor’s wife, mom of five, and university instructor. She takes the storytelling elements of her Blue Ridge Mountain heritage and spices a variety of genres with grace and humor. She can be found causing mischief at her group blog The Writers Alley, or at

pictures courtesy of


Beth K. Vogt said...

Brainstorming with other writers -- that's my favorite way to get back into the groove.
This is such a timely article because I think a lot of us are struggling to get back at it after the holidaze.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Pepper, I love that. The "Doug-writer". I think your process is unique, and if it works for you, embrace it! I totally get lost sometimes and I have to get my groove back. For me, brainstorming works, as well as working on something brand new. Even if I don't write it, it's getting my creative juices flowing again, then diving in on what needs to be done.

Angie Dicken said...

This is such a timely post for me, Pepper. As you know, I have been struggling with my writer's break, but I am finally getting my groove back! I am definitely between a Plan First Write Later, and a Tackle Plan problem is, I stop TOO much...and then it drags on! Once I pick up a good book, I seriously get the writer's bug and then the daydreaming hits and I get lost in my characters' worlds...that is when my creative juices kick in! Love that you put this into words. Fun to know God has created many sisters from the same fabric as me!
Love ya!

Casey said...

Have you ever seen the movie Nim's Island and Alex Rover the author is dancing in front of her computer, basically trying to get "her groove back?" Oh my goodness, you totally need to see that scene and I couldn't find it on Youtube.

I do much the same thing, but for me the most important thing is to push negative voices away and just write through it. Because I don't have writer ADHD. I just have focus ADHD. ;-D

Joanne Sher said...

SUPER pointers, Pepper!

Jeanne T said...

I chuckled at your ADHD Writer description. :) I'm more of a plan-it-and-write-it kind of gal. There is safety in having a plan. But, to be honest, I lost something after NaNo as well. I've set a personal deadline for myself to be done with my first draft by the end of this month. I'm starting to squirm with all I have to get done in the next two weeks. :)

I'm enjoying the ideas for getting creativity back. I need them. In the past (by "past" I mean in the year I've been writing), I find my juices flow when I'm focusing on my story. Either when I'm waiting somewhere and thinking about one of my characters, or sitting and reading what I've written, and praying for God's inspiration, I find creativity can get a jumpstart.

I don't know if this is making sense, but your post sure did. Thanks for the suggestions. :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great ideas, Pepper! Glad I'm not the only one in a writers' funk (as I call it) right now!

I envy you that you can work on more than one story at a time!

Will try some of these suggestions.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I'm envious too! I wanna be able to go back and forth. I'm definitely a plan/write gal. :)

Pepper said...

Hey gals,
So glad my musing made sense :-) I'll be back around to respond some more - but in the midst of a crazy day.

Pepper said...

love the term 'holidaze'
Sometimes...DEFINITELY! :-)

Pepper said...

It 'works for me' but (just like you said) I can get too distracted. I have to be really careful to complete what I start - there's the danger :-)

Naomi Rawlings said...

What? We're supposed to come up with MORE writing styles? Is that even possible???

I'm a stay the course kind of gal. I refuse to think hard about another novel while I have a WIP, because I don't want to get distracted.

BUT, I always have this really powerful moment near the end of a novel (okay, most writers would call this a climax, but I'm a fan of "powerful moment"). And seeing the twist, the moment my character gets tested beyond her wildest imagination and comes through on top, helps me slough through the hard parts. Because there are always hard parts. But if the end is worth my suffering, I keep going. :)

Lindsay Harrel said...

I've been having trouble getting back into the groove after Christmas/New Year's. I started a new job January 3, which has made it even easier to be distracted from editing my current WIP. Glad to know I'm not the only one!