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3 Ways to Get Off Your Writing Plateau


Writing Plateau Anemone

“Work hard. Keep at it.”

I saw that Hugh MacLeod quote at the other day. Why, I’m even the one who put it there.

It’s a good quote, and true.

But it’s also deceptive. Working hard works for a while, but over time you begin to see diminishing returns by working hard in the same ways. This is why diets fail. It’s why businesses fail. It’s why writers… well, you know: fail to grow.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and not just because I’m reading The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success. I work with many writers. I have been an active part of the blogosphere (or was). Some of these writers grow. Some do not. Admit it, you might be tired of reading the ones who haven’t grown.

I’m being honest. But I want you to hear the gentleness of my tone. Because I care about writers. I’m asking: do you really want to be a writer? I mean, a good writer? Even a great writer?

Then you have to do more than work hard. You need to introduce new ways of working.

At Tweetspeak Poetry, we are all about giving you those new ways to work.


Here are 3 ways we help you get off your writing plateau:

1. We offer a poem a day. Reading poetry every day helps a writer absorb a sense of rhythm, develop a sense of image-based writing, and discover the surprising nuances of words

2. We have a new Poets & Writers Toolkit feature, where you can try out techniques for working your writing.

3. We offer top-notch writer’s workshops. Two right now:

Fiction Jumpstart (great for writers who’ve been working in other genres and need to work hard in a new genre as a way to shake things up, or terrific for writers who want to work with a best-selling author who knows how to help writers get past plateaus)

How to Think Like a Creative Genius (best for writers who need to develop their voice or give themselves permission to tackle things they’ve been hesitant to tackle; also great for learning how to find ideas and playfully follow them. Plus, it never hurts for a writer to learn how to think like a Creative Genius.)

As a writer, you can work hard and keep at it and effectively be staying in the same place. Or you can work hard and keep at it by working in new ways.

We love great writing. We know which option we hope you’ll choose, if you want to grow.

Photo by the sea the sea. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by L.L. Barkat.

Your Comments

11 Comments so far

  1. Tania Runyan says:

    I am a poet, but last summer I started writing flash fiction once a week as a way to explore a different genre and just have fun. I stuck with it for several months but eventually felt fatigued. I don’t know. . .maybe I started to see potential in my fiction and felt some pressure there. This summer will be a good time to shake things up again!

  2. L. L. Barkat says:

    As I recall, you got involved in doing a book project. That, um, shakes things up in itself! :)

    I think that when you get back to a writing lull of sorts, that’s the time to pick it up again.

    did you see some potential? Because I know I did :)

  3. Tania Runyan says:

    Yes, the book project for sure changed my writing schedule. I did see some potential in the fiction, but my brain, I don’t know. . started to overthink it almost? Not that you can revise too much. But I think I start to think too hard even at the beginning.

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      I loved the pieces you were working on. You were hitting it. I think it was just fatigue. When we’re tired, I think we have less patience for risk, which is what you were coming up against in those final revisions (just my opinion :) )

  4. I was feeling a bit un-writerly today and quite stuck…..Maybe overthinking what I wanted to blog about-make it perfect or….what? I don’t know. Then I remembered a quote I read in ‘God in the Yard’–inside front page, I believe–”If you’re feeling lost, go take a walk in the woods.” (my paraphrase.)
    So I went outside and pulled some weeds for awhile. When I came back in the house, not much changed except my perspective–and that was everything.
    I still haven’t written anything; sensing I need to be ‘quiet’ for now, maybe, but I feel much better about it.

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      Perspective-change is definitely one way to get off a plateau. I do *so* love my morning walks for this reason. We can add that to the list. Something in the landscape alters us.

  5. I love your phrasing on what reading poetry does for nourishing a writer. I read several poems today and feel satisfied. Filled with a sense of rediscovery for the “nuances of words” and the cadence of line breaks, the rhythms and ebbing of words and more.
    Is the Creative Genius Workshop filled/what is the deadline ? Feeling the temptress’ call toward jumping in.

    Strange how I am fed by simply gazing out a window or watching a bird at the feeder. Shifting gears mentally and creatively can do wonders. And then there is MUSIC.

    Thank you for all the ways you inspire and invigorate us. It is sort of the fuel-pump for poets :)

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      I’m now thinking there are levels of plateaus. There might be something more akin to writer’s block, but then there might be something that needs more long-term work. I suspect that one’s solutions might need to consider what kind of plateau? :)

      Just musing aloud.

      You know we hope you’ll give in to this particular temptation, since it could be positively life-altering :)

  6. “Poet Tree”

    Gazing out my window
    at the leaves of my tree
    I do this every morning
    as they’re precious to me
    Will I be famous today
    is it up to me?
    Am I just another leaf
    on the poet tree

    Poetry is fiction
    often I sense
    synonyms that were searched for
    feign eloquence

    Then there are poems
    that touch your heart
    They draw you in
    just as you start

    Which one is this
    you may ask of me
    This one is fiction
    I made it to be
    Poetry is as many as the leaves
    on a poet tree

    This one written
    waiting for my coffee

    • L. L. Barkat says:

      Mark, what a totally fun poem!

      And a cool idea for a morning ritual: Write a poem while waiting for your coffee. :)

  7. Mark Ettinger 5-30-13
    @ Panera with a loaf of Bread

    “Catch You”

    I say you’re pretty
    But you don’t agree
    Trying to catch you
    But you run from me
    Someday I’ll catch you
    Believing in me

    You know I like you
    Cause you let me say
    I come to your place
    And you let me stay
    I try to move in
    But you move away
    This game that we play

    Believe me, I’m telling you true
    It’s so hard for me to do
    So hard for me to believe
    That you don’t believe in you
    Yet I keep returning to you

    I say you’re pretty
    But you don’t agree
    Trying to catch you
    But you run from me
    Someday I’ll catch you
    Believing in me

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