I have enough vigor and stamina these days to write poems, for which I am very thankful. It takes quite a lot of vigor and stamina to write a story, and a huge amount to write a novel. I don’t have those any more, and I miss writing fiction.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, in Navigating The Ocean of Story
I was heartened to read this confession from Ursula K. Le Guin–whose writing I’ve read and admired all my life–because my experience has been exactly the same: different kinds of writing take different amounts of vigor and stamina. Hearing that a writer I look up to feels the same way is incredibly vindicating.
Two Strategies for Addressing Low Writing Vigor
1. When my vigor and stamina are low, and I find I can’t work on “big” projects, I can often fall back to projects of a smaller scale and still get writing done–just as Le Guin describes. If you find you’re stalled on your novel or screenplay because you don’t have enough spark, but you still want to be writing, you might try writing stories, or flash fiction, or poems, or silly writing games.
2. When I’m stalled on a larger-scale project, the solution is almost always to look to the physical, mental and emotional health that supplies the stamina and vigor to write. Am I eating well? Am I sleeping enough? (Do I need a nap?) Are there difficult things going on in my life that are robbing my writing energy?–Can I attend to them to get my spark back?
In other words, I choose my projects based on my available writing resources, and at the same time, I optimize my writing resources to make big projects possible.
How about you? What do you do when your writing spark is low? What do you do to build up and support your writing vigor?