If You Aren’t Sure What to Write Next, Read This

I am between projects right now. It is a foreign feeling for me. Normally, I race on to something else before finishing my current project, constantly scanning my environment for the next amazing thing to do or activity to try.

This year, I decided to try something different. I set an intention to finish what I start. It is more difficult than I imagined. Now, before starting something, I actually have to commit. No more leaping out of something because I’m stuck, bored or both.

woman watching sunrise with raised arms

Get Comfortable with Space in Your Life

Yesterday on the radio, I heard a remarkable interview with Mary Pipher, author of Woman Rowing North, among other books. Pipher writes about aging women and has a remarkable perspective to share. As a 71-year-old woman, she said that her happiest times have been in her more recent years. She, and the women over 70 who called in to share their stories, successfully disputed every stereotype I’d ever heard about aging women. They sounded remarkably satisfied, content, empowered, and well, downright happy.

One of the reasons Pipher believes she is happy is that she now has more space in her life to allow spontaneous moments of bliss to arise. Pipher said that when we are younger and concerned with earning a living, raising children, and meeting the daily needs of ourselves and others, there is a hurried quality to our lives. She also stated that we are not able to allow bliss into our lives amid all the rushing. Bliss requires calm and stillness. The example Pipher gave was having the time to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning while watching the sun rise.

While listening to Mary Pipher, I realized that I am not effectively internalizing my experiences if I am continually getting distracted by a new program or project. In order to enjoy what I am working on, I needed to slow down and stop pushing so quickly for results. And now that I am between projects, this is a perfect time to slow down and reflect on what I have completed before starting something new.

aurora borealis with green light over snowy land

Ask Your Inner Guidance for Help

We all have a source of inner guidance we can tap when we are feeling lost and confused. That is often how I feel between projects, which is why I would often rush into a new one, so it is time for me to converse with my higher self, the part of me that is wise and that is capable of guiding me towards authenticity.

One of my favorite journaling exercises is to converse with my higher self. I imagine my inner guidance to resemble the aurora borealis, the name for those gorgeous light shows that grace the night skies in northern climates. The light shifts shapes and colors, evolving to what I need in the moment, but the source is the same and always there for me. Because I imagine my higher self to resemble the auora borealis, I have named my source “Aurora.” When I feel lost, I ask Aurora questions by writing them in my journal and then listening for answers. I write the answers down and act on the advice. Aurora has rarely led me astray. If you’d like to try this exercise, it might help you to give your source of inner guidance a name, too.

woman online shopping with credit card

Browse Catalogs to See What Interests You

Once you have consulted your higher self and know what you’d like to try next, you get to do something fun. You get to go window shopping on the internet. Yes, I’m giving you permission to shop, but spending money, especially if it is substantial, comes later.

To give you an example, I completed a technical course in Postgre SQL, a technology used for data science, and I was feeling drained. After consulting Aurora, I discovered that I wanted to connect with writing again. Once I was sure, I started browsing through various books on Amazon and started coming across books about writing the personal essay. I had never formally tried to write one and was intrigued.

That led me to a trip to my local library where I found Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem, which I am enjoying immensely. I then decided to reserve a couple of books about how to write a personal essay and revisited some of my favorite essays by the humorist David Sedaris. If you are ever feeling low, Me Talk Pretty One Day is bound to lift your mood.

two asian woman sitting together

Reflect and Ask for Guidance Before Making a Big Investment

At this point, I am familiarizing myself with the personal essay form and auditing some courses through Coursera. If I decide that I’d like to eventually get published in the personal essay form, I can invest in an in-depth course of sorts. At this point, I have also learned to ask for outside guidance and discuss any big purchases with my husband before moving forward. The reason I suggest checking with a trusted partner, spouse or friend before investing in a big purchase is because as writers and creative people, we are excitable. It is all to easy for us to get overly invested before we do the work.

As you may have guessed, I am speaking from personal experience here. At the beginning of a project, my enthusiasm is high, but my follow-through isn’t great. If I started naming all the programs I invested in that didn’t amount to any big changes in my life, I would probably get depressed. This is why it’s important for me to seek out my husband or a skeptical friend. If you are someone who has trouble finishing what you start and staying committed, I encourage you to do the same. Let the skeptics in your life tell you every reason why you shouldn’t invest in the expensive program that will lead you to your dream. If, after a week, you still want to invest and you have the funds, then by all means, go for it. The universe likes speed, but many times, our finances call for caution.

Final Reflection

If you are in between projects, I hope this post will help you identify a new direction for yourself, one that is authentic and completely right for you. Have you ever regretted a program you invested in or benefited from listening to guidance within or outside yourself? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience. Feel free to leave a comment below.

6 Replies to “If You Aren’t Sure What to Write Next, Read This”

  1. Writing requires a great deal of determination and passion. If your passion starts to dry up, it seems easy to lose the determination to write.

    Finding new inspiration in areas that you would least expect is sometimes the best place to rekindle your desire to write about a new topic or subject.

    I’ve found that going to sleep with music gets my mind thinking creatively and then when I wake up, I have a new idea. It doesn’t always work but sometimes it really gets me going.

    1. That’s a great suggestion, Eric! Naps definitely help, and yes, I can definitely believe that music can give the subconscious some great material while you rest. I will look forward to giving that a try.

  2. Thank you. You did a good job here. It’s not an easy thing when one is in between projects and feels confused, not knowing whether to continue or not and not even knowing what to do next. I have now learned to seek help from my inner self. It opens my mind to new possibilities and I can see success on the horizon.

    1. Thanks, Kenechi! It sounds like you have a good system in place for moving forward when you are stuck. Wishing you continued success with your writing!

  3. This post is something I can completely relate to, not in the sense that I invest in different programs and end up not completing any because I lost interest or I got bored, but in the area of creating content for my niche website. I love and enjoy writing, and although I never run out of topics to write about, I am finding it hard to focus on one article before proceeding to the next. I don’t know how, but I have developed the habit of starting to write about 2-3 different topics all at the same time. The result?  I end up not finishing anything when the day is done. In short, I’m being unproductive.

    You’re absolutely right, reflecting and asking for guidance should help sort things out. I guess it’s a matter of setting our priorities and learn to commit to one project down to its completion before starting another one. Thanks for the practical advice.

    1. Thanks, Alice! Yes, I can definitely relate: it is exciting to start something new but can feel like drudgery to finish the task or article at hand. I didn’t cover this in the article, but I do have a reward system for myself. When I finish a poem, a novel chapter or a blog post, I allow myself two small squares of dark chocolate. Completing a volume of poetry or a book-length manuscript is a dinner out with my husband. If you haven’t tried a reward system for yourself, consider giving that a try and seeing if it helps. Good luck to you and happy writing!

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