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The Writing Rut and How to Break It

John has many years of writing experience in poetry, short fiction and text for children's books. Basically he just loves to write.


Finding Time to Write When life Gets in the Way

Often, I sit down at my desk, and in front of my computer, and think "I hope I can write something worthwhile today." Sometimes I am inspired by an event or idea and the words just flow. Other times I sit staring blankly at the screen and resort to reading emails, browsing Facebook, Pinterest and the like and nothing productive occurs.

Other times I sit staring blankly at the screen and resort to reading emails, browsing Facebook, Pinterest and the like and nothing productive occurs. It feels like I have just wasted a couple of hours (and time sure flies when you are on the computer).

I enjoy being a writer and poet and apart from my wife, and family (including pets) it is undoubtedly my greatest love.

Recently though, I have been hit by a lack of inspiration. It isn't writer's block (if that even exists) and I wouldn't call it that anyway. It is just that at the present time I seem to be consumed by other things. Even non-urgent or unimportant matters are taking up my time and thoughts.

I guess you could say I am in a kind of "writing rut," unable to find the time to write anything let alone read and comment on other people's hubs and articles (unless a certain title catches my eye.)

Rebooting Your Writing Output

So, leaving that introduction behind, I write this article as a vain attempt to break that "rut" and reboot my writing output.

I have a feeling that my current situation is the result of a major freelance project I had been devoting a lot of time too over a period of weeks. On finishing that I felt I needed a short break from writing. However, that short break extended into weeks. I have written two hubs in the last month, and I know that is more than some people, but it doesn't satisfy me.

I am aware of all the advice for writers who are struggling for inspiration:

  • Go out into the world and observe people, nature, city-life etc and gather ideas and material
  • Find a photo, song, or book title that can act as a prompt to inspire you
  • Just start putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and words will just flow
  • Google "writing prompts" and choose one that appeals, then write something using it

If I am given a topic or subject in the form of, say, a writing challenge by another hubber, or a request by a client, I have no problem. It's thinking of the subject or topic myself that is the real challenge and making it original.

So, what do you do in cases like this? Well, me, I write a poem.

*(I'd be interested to hear what others do in the comments.)


A Writer's Life

A writer's life is lonely,

They often work alone,

In front of a computer screen

Or notebooks when not home.

Observing life and taking notes

To commit to memory,

So they can write the perfect text

Whatever that may be.

Writers are a special breed,

Their patience will astound,

Researching and studying

To make their words profound.

Authors, poets, freelancers,

All writers have a place.

Some are very famous,

But many have no face.

So here's to struggling writers

Who slave for hours a day,

To try to please the reader

For very little pay.

© 2017 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on November 09, 2018:

Thanks for reading Sherry. Yes, I also find when I am inspired the piece tends to write itself. Interesting, my views and income have doubled in recent months. Recently, I discovered a new way to inspire myself. I search through books on my shelf until a certain title jumps out at me, and I use that as a basis for a hub.I hope your inspiration returns.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on November 09, 2018:

I don't have the excuse of working all day. I have plenty of time to write. It is inspiration I lack. When I am inspired, the piece writes itself. Sure, I need a topic, but not just any topic will inspire. Oh yeah, the drop in views and income doesn't help.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on November 09, 2018:

I can relate Shauna. I have those days when the creative juices just aren’t flowing and no, you can’t force it. Full time work makes it difficult.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 09, 2018:

I can relate, John. I think my biggest obstacle is that I'm working full time again. When I get home I don't want to turn on my computer after working on one all day.

I have a folder full of ideas I've written down over the years, so inspiration isn't the problem. The problem is creativity. My creative juices seem to be rebelling. I can't force it when I just plain ole don't feel the juices tickling me. Know what I mean?

Ann Carr from SW England on December 05, 2017:

Great poem, John! I'm in a similar situation because of the house renovation which seems to be going on for ever!

Although I've written a few hubs lately, just like you it's not enough. I want the flow to return.

I do have a stack of drafts which I can turn to but there's nothing like taking a thought and going with it on the spur of the moment, is there?

I was wondering why you were silent for a while, although I have a few of yours to catch up on. That's my other problem - I have a stack of back-logs to read; should I just scratch them all and start again? But then I'll miss some good hubs from my favourite hubbers.

I agree with you about the 'writer's block'; there are plenty of ideas, it's just when to get round to them!

Anyway, I hope you get back into the stride and I'm looking forward to reading much more of your entertaining writing. You are definitely one of my favourites here.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on December 04, 2017:

Thanks Rafa. I can relate to your situation. Writing anything randomly can often lead to something profound or at least satisfying. You just need to paper or finger to keyboard.

Rafael Baxa on December 04, 2017:

Hey John!

I have ended up in the situation many times where I’d sit in front of my computer with no idea what to write. I even stopped writing for almost an year, thinking I had lost the spark or something. I tried prompts for fiction, but they never work out for me. They just ended up being a few sentences worth of nothing. Most times I just sit and try out different writing applications to see if that helps, but I end up not using any of them.

So recently, I stopped waiting for “inspiration”, and I’ve decided to write anything that comes to mind. It doesn’t always help, but it makes it easier to begin. I’d just randomly write about anything and somehow end up getting an idea during the ramble writing. After that I start over with that.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on November 25, 2017:

I am glad you can relate to this Genna. Being unable to write, for any reason, is a writer's bane. However if this can help in any way then it was worth writing. :)

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on November 25, 2017:

Hi John...

Oh my -- I've been in this rut for months due to too much work. I think it was kismet, reading this article, John, and "Finding the time to write when life gets in the way..." I may have an idea or words that leap into my mind, but are overshadowed when something work related crowds the words, and they move to the back of line, so to speak. Thank you for this hub and the poem! It is a treasure.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on November 20, 2017:

Hmm, you are right, Flourish. That is an excellent topic for a poem.

FlourishAnyway from USA on November 20, 2017:

John, with Charlie Manson's death, I would bet you have a poem in there. Just saying.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 29, 2017:

Hey Diana, thanks for the feedback confirming you do the same thing. Good luck with that Western novel.

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on October 29, 2017:

I can relate to this article. I do the same thing. When all else fails I write a poem. Poems seem to flow freely when nothing else will. I want to write a western novel. I'm stopping myself from meeting my own goals.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 22, 2017:

Haha lovetherain, maybe I need to try cleaning. I'm sure my wife would be happy.

lovetherain from Untited States on October 22, 2017:

I just kind of pace or clean if I can't think of something to write.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 17, 2017:

Glad you enjoyed the poem, Dianna. You may be right, I need to get out among the masses more. Thanks.

Dianna Mendez on October 17, 2017:

Loved your friendly and encouraging poem. Getting out among the masses is always a great way to prompt a writer's mind.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 16, 2017:

Hi Maria, thanks for reading. Yes, our jobs and personal life can certainly affect our writing, as you can attest. The network site do give us a new goal to strive for so that's good. Good luck with your writing.

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on October 16, 2017:

I had years when I think I was productive. Writing in Hubpages, preparing article for a magazine, then attended a regular 9 to 6 job. When my 9-6 job became toxic, if affects my writing productivity...I am still struggling to go back by submitting articles to the network sites, to have one article accepted is always an inspiration....

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 15, 2017:

Good for you DDE. Glad you are writing again. Most of us go through a rut from time to time.

DDE on October 14, 2017:

Great words here from you! I stopped writing for a while due to my summer job. I feel more relaxed to start again and out of the rut I have been for long time.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2017:

Thank you, Alicia. I hope I have broken out. We shall see. Glad you liked the poem.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on October 12, 2017:

I love your poem, especially the line "But many have no face". It certainly sounds like you've broken out of your writing rut!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2017:

Haha Larry, you have a great excuse for your writing rut..two little kids. It certainly must be hard to binge write in that situation. Thanks for reading.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2017:

Paula, so glad you could relate to this and thanks for sharing your own experience. It helps that I am not alone. I think your comment actually has more words than my article...and that's good :)

Yes, I agree...To Hell with Schedules! haha

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 12, 2017:

Thanks, MsDora, you are always most kind in your comments. We do our best to conquer these things, don't we?

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on October 12, 2017:

I have two writing ruts I just can't seem to get through. One in the form of a 5 month old boy and the other a 3 year old girl:-)

It's not that there isn't time to write, but I'm a binge worker. That's what's natural for me. You can't binge work with kids. Got to do a little here and there. I'll adjust one of these days.

Great read!

Suzie from Carson City on October 11, 2017:

Jodah...It's no surprise, I love your article and LOVE your little poem at the end. I can relate to your every thought & word. In fact, just recently, I decided to hold a massive inventory in as many areas of my life as I could handle at one time.

I simply woke one morning with a light bulb hovering above my head....(all that was missing was the background music and exclamation point!) As I made my coffee, I simply uttered 2 words; "It's time!" For what?~ I suppose you're wondering. Well, so was I.

I knew I needed "something" to change, happen, appear, disappear, improve, make more sense....but I guess I couldn't put my finger on it. What a crazy place to be. Has this ever happened to you? to anyone out there?

Never fear, Jodah...as the day went on, I found the answer. In fact, I found numerous answers. It was as though my subconscious had filled to the brim in covert ways until finally I had to become aware my life desperately needed some remodeling, redecorating & replacement.

I set out to do what needed to be done. Baby steps and little by little, I feel really smug that I have it all under control. I'm comfortable with my plans and I'm assured I'm approaching it all in the right ways.

I accept I'm in a writing rut and refuse to allow it to bother or annoy me. There are many other areas of my life that require my time, attention & talents (just as you explained in your life at the moment)

I'd just like to add one more thought, Jodah...(besides Thank you for sharing this!) To HELL with schedules. Honestly? I hate schedules!! LOL...Hugs, Paula

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 11, 2017:

Well done, Jodah. You very well illustrated how a real writer responds to a writing rut. Many of us can relate to the situation, but it takes a pro like you to come out of it with such flying colors.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 11, 2017:

Jo, unfortunately it is near impossible for me to stick to a schedule. I sure wish I could. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Jo Miller from Tennessee on October 11, 2017:

I do best when I have a schedule for writing and just stick to it. Some days, undoubtedly, are easier than others. Even with that, however, I don't think I'm as productive as you are.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 11, 2017:

Chitangada, thank you for your generous words. You have always been a great supporter. Yes, I felt those two lines were very poignant to many writers. Take care, and good luck with your own writing.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 11, 2017:

Sounds so familiar!

You are a great poet and writer and this article further proves it. You wrote such a nice and inspiring piece, although you were facing some kind of writer’s rut.

Yes the real life keeps us busy, social media has become a habit and so on.

I loved your lines,

—some are very famous,

But many have no face—-

Thanks for sharing and keep up the wonderful work!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2017:

Yes, Linda, that muse sure can be fickle but I won't call her a bitch or she may never return :) Yes she may have just needed a break. Glad you liked the poem.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2017:

Hey Mik, thanks for confirming I'm not alone in my decreased output. My notifications indicate that too.I am sure if anyone can make a series out of 'Touched by a Lunatic' you can, and I'll look forward to reading it :) Thanks for the encouragement.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2017:

Hey Eric, love to hear about your family and how things happen in your home. Also glad this has helped fire you up for today/yesterdays sermon...lol. Thanks.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2017:

Thanks for sharing that Carolyn. I think the best part about writing this was the helpful comments I have received. Your idea of saving "stubs" to your computer to work on at a later time is an excellent idea. Thanks.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2017:

Thanks Bill, I appreciate the encouragement and know it will pass...just one of those cycles like in everything we do. cheers.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2017:

Thanks Tim. I like the idea of those Greek muses teaching us life lessons and preparing us for the next adventure in writing.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on October 10, 2017:

Great poem sharing wise words of wisdom! I have been in a writing rut for too long now. Even my writing in my journal has diminished. And, poetic verse has become hidden. Alas, I blame it on many things, but I think the culprit is navigating life changes and growing pains. I kinda' see the work of all of those Greek muses playing with me by teaching life lessons. Perhaps preparing me for the next adventure with writing.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 10, 2017:

Thank you for the well-wishes Dave and the excellent tip. I may actually have a few unfinished items I could dust off and improve for publishing. cheers.

David Edward Lynch from Port Elizabeth, South Africa on October 10, 2017:

Thanks John for this and certainly hope you can get back to writing more. I have a few unfinished writings that I look at now & then.

Perhaps looking back at past writings may be inspiration to start something new.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 09, 2017:

Jodah, that Muse of writing is a fickle bitch, isn't she? You devote your life to her and then she repays you by leaving without even a goodbye.

I am confident that she will return to you. Perhaps she needed a break as well. In the meantime, I enjoyed your poem.

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 09, 2017:

Hello John - Here at Hubpages everyone (perhaps except Bill) seems to have slowed down on their presentations. So, two in a month is not the worst record by far. Here this computer screen has been mostly blank.

I have stories fermenting in my head, but they do not seem to want to turn into words on a page.

My muse dropped off this title last night and left laughing: 'Touched by a Lunatic' - now what am I suppose to do with that. A thirteen week sitcom?

Keep writing the world need you.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 09, 2017:

Great stuff here friend. I have this wonderful family. It is like an addiction to play and have fun and do chores and chit chat together. So I sit down and write and stop half way through to play.

You and Bill are firing me up today. And the sermon is now forming, thanks.

Carolyn Fields from South Dakota, USA on October 09, 2017:

I, too, have been in a writing rut. I have slacked off on writing hubs for weeks now. I have, at least, been adding pages to my novel on a fairly regular basis. For that, I keep a word count in my planner, and "grade" myself on how many words I produce in a day. It probably sounds silly to some, but it does motivate me to write enough words to make an "A" for the day. Of course, in this situation, I already have the story line, plot, characters, etc., and I'm just filling in the content (with a occasional change of direction - it is fiction after all). And yes - I have been very busy on other projects, so I have given myself a pass. Perhaps I will start "grading" myself on hub output as well. Just a thought.

What I do have are several "stubs" for hubs that I have saved on my computer. When an idea stricks, I open a document, capture enough info to remember the general thrust, and then save it and set it aside. Then when I have time, I go back and flesh them out. Okay, that's all for now. Thanks for listening.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 09, 2017:

I really never worry about ruts. They come and they go, and I know any mini-rut I may find myself in will blow away quickly. There is just too much creativity in people like you and me, John, and it will find a way to break free of any rut.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 09, 2017:

Sally, that is a really helpful tip that I'd never considered. Thanks for that and for reading this article/hub.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on October 09, 2017:

I like to listen to discussions on the radio. I figure that if people find a subject interesting enough to discuss then one has a subject worth writing about.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 08, 2017:

Thanks Flourish. Yes, I will stick with it. Cheers.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 08, 2017:

Blessings and thanks, Shyron.

FlourishAnyway from USA on October 08, 2017:

Stick with it. Rewards are sure to follow.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on October 08, 2017:

John, yes life gets in the way

No matter how much your writing may pay

Just keep on searching for that inspiration

And soon you will find something close to fascination



Blessings my friend

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