How to Maintain Forward Momentum When the Writing is Stuck

Most days I like writing. Sure it’s challenging, but I enjoy trying to find the right word to describe something or crafting a phrase that conveys my excitement about a development.


There are some days, however, when it just sucks. I don’t want to do it, and the words are stuck, and every sentence feels like a grind. Thankfully, these days don’t happen all that often. But when they do, I’ve developed some strategies to maintain forward progress without pulling out my hair.

  1. Work on your acknowledgments. Practicing gratitude generally makes most situations more palatable and can help remind you why you enjoy the profession in the first place.
  2. Start compiling a list of index terms. By going through past material, you might spark a new boost of productivity. It also helps to see how far you’ve already come.
  3. Make a list of sites, organizations, or people that might be interested in your book or article once it’s done. Sometimes focusing on the end goal helps you slog through the muddy middle parts.
  4. Create a list of strategies to publicize your book/article/project. You want people to read the thing you’re working so hard to finish, right?
  5. Draft an email to send to family and friends announcing the book is available for pre-order. Save it in your drafts folder. It will give you something tangible to look forward to sending.
  6. Work on a website for your book. It’s a good idea to have one eventually and you will need to build it at some point.
  7. Read secondary literature that you’ve been meaning to cite, but just haven’t gotten to yet.
  8. Select images for your book and work on securing the permissions.

These are just a few of the tasks that I work on when I’m feeling a little down. Obviously, there is no substitute for actually putting words on the page and these tasks will be meaningless if I don’t actually finish the book. But they need to get done eventually and they help me feel like I’m chipping away at my end goal. Plus, once I’ve spent a few minutes working on these items, I usually regain my excitement about my project and I’m able to dive back into writing. I hope they help you as well! I’d love to hear other strategies for making forward, if somewhat parallel, progress on your work!

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