Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 26, 2010

Get Out of That Slump

Many people get into a slump after the holidays and writers are no different.

Here are some tips that might help:

  1. One Goal. Ask yourself, “Do I have too much going on in my life.  Trying to do too much will sap your energy and motivation. Take on too much, try to accomplish too many goals all at once and you will not be able to maintain your energy and focus (the two most important things in accomplishing a goal).  You can only juggle so many balls for so long and then something has to give, so when you feel that starting to happen, step back, choose one goal and focus on it completely.  When that is checked off your list then start on the next item.
  2. Build anticipation. If you want to meet a goal, start by writing out a plan.  Don’t start right away, set a future date to start.  Mark it on the calendar. Get excited about the date. Make it the most important date in your life. This delay will build anticipation, and help increase your focus and energy on the goal. The most important thing here is to lay out a plan. I liken it to writing down a plot outline. Your character does something and it leads to something else happening.
  3. Start Small.  If you want to lose weight, don’t make a goal of running 4 miles a day.  You are setting yourself up for defeat. If you want to be a published author, don’t make a goal of writing a novel in 3 months and getting it published in the next three months.  Almost everyone I know would fail with that goal.  But setting a goal to write down everything you eat for the next month and then following that up with saying you will stay under 1500 calories for the next month is doable.  Saying you are going to write one page each day is doable. Know the realities of life and take baby steps, then build on them.  Don’t set yourself up to fail.
  4. Find inspiration. Look to others who have achieved what you are trying to achieve.  How did they do it?  Take a page from their book.  Read blogs, books, and magazines that share success stories.
  5. Get excited. Get yourself excited about your goal. But how can you do that when you don’t feel motivated? Well, it can start with inspiration from others who have accomplished what you want.  Build on that.  Reaching a small goal, like losing 1 pound or two can help motivate you to continue and build on that little step.  Then take that excitement and add to it. Visualize what it would be like to be successful, this will help encourage you to keep going.
  6. Post your goal. Print out your goal in big words. Make your goal just a few words long, like (“Write one page. Daily”), and post it up on your wall or refrigerator. Post it at home and work. Put it on your computer desktop. You want to have big reminders about your goal, to keep your focus and keep your excitement going.
  7. Think about it daily. If you think about your goal every day, it is much more likely to become true. Thus the reason to post the goal on your wall or computer desktop.
  8. Commit publicly. None of us likes to look bad in front of others. We will go the extra mile to do something we’ve said publicly. Hold yourself accountable — give progress updates to everyone.
  9. Get support. It’s hard to accomplish something alone. Find a support network, either in the real world or online, or both.
  10. Stick with it. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Even if you aren’t feeling any motivation today, or this week, don’t give up. Your motivation will come back. We are creatures of habit.  Keep up your daily plan and it will soon become a habit. Stick with it, you’ll get there.
  11. Realize there are ebbs and flows. Motivation is not a constant thing that is always there for you. It’s like the tide, it comes and goes.  While it may go away, it doesn’t do so permanently.  Just stick it out.  It will come back.  In the meantime, read about your goal, ask for help, and do some of the other things listed here.
  12. Call for help when your motivation ebbs. Having trouble? Ask for help.  Join an online forum.  Get a partner or join a group of like minded people.  Call your mom.  It doesn’t matter who, just tell someone your problems.  Talking about it will helps.  Ask for advice.  
  13. Think about the benefits, not the difficulties. One common problem is that we tend to think about how hard something is, instead of thinking about what we’ll will get out of it.  Exercise sounds so hard!  Just thinking about it makes you tired, instead focus on how good you’ll feel when you’re done. Think how you’ll be healthier and slimmer over the long run. The benefits of something will help energize you.
  14. Squash negative thoughts; replace them with positive ones. It’s important to start monitoring your thoughts. Recognize negative self-talk, which is really what’s causing your slump. Spend a few days becoming aware of every negative thought, then squash those negative thoughts.  Replace them with positive thoughts.  Step on, “This is too hard!” and replace it with, “I can do this! If so-in-so can do it, so can I!” It sounds stupid, but it works.  If someone around you is being negative or telling you that you can’t do something, then try to distance yourself from them.  If that is not possible, then talk to them about how their negativity is effecting you and ask them to stop.  Point it out to them, when they do it.
  15. Take a class. Attend a conference.  What do you do when you want something, but you keep hitting brick walls?  Many people reading this blog want to get published and even though your critique group likes your story, you are running into editors and agents who aren’t interested.  What then?  Well, don’t give up.  Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee) wrote for 15 years, before he landed his first book contract.  Imagine all the wonderful books we wouldn’t have if he gave up.  He kept writing.  Not the same book.  He wrote five novels that have never been published.  He says that those books taught him how to write.       
         So if you have written a book and it is not attracting the interest you expected, start writing something else.  The more you write the better your writing will be.  Look at your work with clear eyes.  Where are you falling short?  If you don’t know, then you need to attend a conference where you can meet editors, agents and fellow writers who can help show you the way.  Attend a writing class.  Read books on writing.  Read the types of books you are writing.  Write an article for a magazine.  Look for small ways to be successful.  I think writing a page a day, is a good habit to get into, since it develops a habit and it is something attainable, even when life is getting in the way.  Christopher Paul Curtis (Bud, Not Buddy) says he writes five hours everyday and that it takes anyone 10,000 hours to develop a craft where they stand out.  How many hours do you have under your belt?

Now is the time to work on your plan.  The New Year is a great time to start.  I’m working on my plan, now.  Good luck!

Writer’s Digest is calling for nominations for its 2011 101 Best Websites for Writers.  Nominations are due by January 1. If you like the information you receive on this blog, I hope you will consider sending an email to Put “101 Websites” in the subject line and include a brief note about how Kathy Temean’s Writing and Illustrating helps you.  Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Um. Kathy. Nice photo?


  2. Kathy-
    What a well-timed article …. so many good ideas to help me re-focus. 🙂


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