Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In a Rut? Change it Up

Recently, I got myself into a bit of a rut. I wasn't finishing the short stories I was starting. I didn't feel like editing. Was it perhaps a summer rut? Too many other things to do? Or just plain boredom.

I can't answer those questions, but I can say that I broke the rut by changing things up. I get the Authors Publish Magazine e-newsletter, which comes with a weekly issue including a listing of themed publications closing soon. One theme caught my eye, so I committed myself to a Saturday of writing until I'd finished the short story to their specifications.

Over the course of several hours, I wrote a 6000 word short story to the theme. I set it aside for a couple days before editing (the deadline was coming up, so I didn't have much time to leave it.) Then I submitted it!

I've now done this for five weeks, and I got my writing mojo back. Whatever the reason for the blah attitude, I worked my way through it.

This exact solution may not work for you, but others might. Take a photography break, draw, do a logic puzzle, read a book instead of writing one for awhile, dance, listen to music, lie out in the sun. Figure out what kind of break you need. Or find out how to change up what you're doing to bring some creativity back into it.

For me, it was probably the fact that it's summer, and I tend to want to be outdoors whenever possible. By doing the short story in a few hours, I freed up the rest of my Saturday, and made it so I wouldn't feel guilty if I did other things during the week. If you can figure out your actual issue, it will be easier to find a solution. But if you can't, no worries. Just find something that challenges you or helps you relax away from whatever else is going on. I'm always a fan of a challenge.

Now for some links (adding these late). Bear in mind that I'm merely passing along links I have happened across, not endorsing them. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Ladybug is looking for children's fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and activities with the theme Our World. Ages 3-6. Up to 800 words. Pays up to $.25/word. Deadline for this theme is July 31.

Spider is looking for children's fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and activities with the theme Fantastic Fantasy Beasts. Ages 6-9. Up to 1000 words. Pays up to $.25/word. Deadline for this theme is July 31.

Black Beacon Books is looking for short horror and mystery for their anthology Shelter From the Storm. 3500 to 7000 words. Pays .01 pounds per word. Deadline July 31.

NonBinary Review is looking for poetry, fiction, and essays with the theme The Tales of Hans Christian Anderson. Up to 1000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline July 31.

Upper Rubber Boot Books is looking for short dark speculative stories for their anthology Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up to No Good. Must be an element of horror. Must be about women and something culinary. Authors must be female, non-binary, or other marginalized sex or gender identity. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.06/word. Deadline July 31.

Empyreome is looking for short speculative fiction. Prefer fantasy and science fiction. Up to 10,000 words. Pays $.0025/word. Deadline July 31.

What do you do to get out of a rut? Or writer's block? Does the same thing work each time, or do you have to try something different? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

Bored Avatar, by OCAL,
Dancer, by OCAL,


  1. Good ideas, Shannon! I find aiming to write and sub for upcoming deadlines often shakes the rut dust from my creative mojo. :)

  2. Congrats on getting your mojo back and good luck with the submission(s)! I agree with Madeline, deadlines do tend to focus the mind. Taking the dogs for a long walk usually allows me to think things through if things aren't going so well.

  3. Taking a break works for me, too. The first week or so is hard. I get edgy...

    But I know, in my heart, I cycle through things, and if I don't write for a little while, I'm going to come back to it again.

    That doesn't mean I'm entirely comfortable with NOT writing even at the best of times. But I'm not as bad as I used to be.

  4. That's awesome you are back in the groove. That was a good trick to try.
    It's so hot and humid here, going outside is the last thing I want to do. Just means I need to sweat my butt off mowing the grass.

  5. Sitting back and let my mind wander works for me. Here, it is hot, dry, and windy.

  6. While I wait for some betas to get back to me, I've committed to writing and submitting to some contests too. I found the contests, now I have to write. Tomorrow... I'll start tomorrow :-)

  7. I'm in a semi-rut right now. I have ideas but the words just aren't flowing all the freely. When I get like this I try to just let it go. I know writers say you need to keep writing no matter what, but honestly that just doesn't work for me. Instead I paint or craft or exercise another creative muscle until the writing drain is unclogged. Otherwise my writing gets even more stilted. Also, I follow my intuition!

  8. I went through a rut that lasted a few years, recently ;) But I'm out of it now... I hope I'm not speaking too soon.

  9. Thanks for all these tips-- haven't been subbing as many stories as I'd like to.


  10. I need to try your solution. I'm in a writing rut too. Maybe I should take up quilting.

  11. Thanks for the links. I may submit one of my short stories to one.

  12. I'm definitely in a rut, but things are going to change for the worse (August, 2 needy kids, no structured activities) before they get better (September means school!) in terms of writing. At least we have some trips to keep us entertained.

  13. Hi Shannon - always trying to catch my tail .. if I could perhaps a tale would occur. But sometimes we do just need a change - though am glad to see you've got things back on track and good luck with the submissions - cheers Hilary

  14. Changing things up is a great way to get back to writing. Good for you!

  15. Cheers to getting your mojo back! I often 'recharge' my words by taking a nice hike. Being alone, reflecting, getting re-centered, that kind of hippie crap (hey, it works, though).

  16. I always have more trouble sitting down to write when it's nice outside. I try to mix in the occasional visit to a cafe where I can write without distractions for a few hours.

  17. When I'm in a rut I like to do something totally for fun, i.e. fan fiction or something that I intentionally don't take too serious. Plus reading a great new book often helps too:)

  18. Hi Shannon,

    I can imagine you've been anxiously waiting for me to comment. Or something like that.

    Good idea to change things up a bit. I know that when I'm in a rut, mostly caused by my ongoing depression, I attempt to write a bit of satire laced with irony.

    Take care, Shannon.


  19. This is a great topic. I'm glad you were able to pull through the rut, that was such a smart way to tackle it. For me, like you mentioned, changing up my medium helps a lot. I bounce between writing and art a lot. And sometimes I just need to step away from it all for a little while then come back with a clear mind. =-)

  20. I just went through a change up myself. I hoping it works out as well as yours did.

  21. I'm not a morning person, but I find that if I can get the writing started on Saturday morning that it flows better than starting later in the day. Glad your muse kicked in, warrior!