• Kelsey Down

How to Jumpstart Your Dead Writing Battery

This post was originally published in Epilogue, a Medium publication. Read the original post here.

Different types of batteries arranged on a white background
Photo by Robin Glauser on Unsplash

I recently spent days wrestling with myself about the first scene in my new work in progress. I couldn’t work out exactly the right place to start my book, and the more I thought about it the more overwhelmed I felt.

One day—after a particularly grueling session of staring at my computer screen and typing a few sentences, then deleting them and pulling up countless articles theorizing about the perfect hook for a novel—I gave up and decided to fold laundry instead.

Maybe ten minutes into the task, before I’d even realized I had started brainstorming, an idea popped into my head. This idea solved all the problems I’d been trying to solve for this first scene of my WIP. I knew from the moment I thought of it that it was perfect, and all it had taken for inspiration to spark was for me to walk away for a bit and find a change of pace.

I have a theory.

Leaving your brain running for too long on a single problem is like leaving the light on in your car: it drains the battery. There may come a point in writing when you just run into wall after wall after wall, and the more you try to resolve the issue the harder it becomes to think objectively about it.

When this happens, you can keep trying to spark the battery—but once it’s dead, it’s dead. The alternative? Get a jumpstart from another vehicle!

(I know. This is a flawed analogy. Please bear with me anyway.)

In this case, think of those other vehicles as any activity that lets you focus on another task or behavior without devoting every ounce of attention to it. You might indulge in a relaxing ritual, engage in stimulating exercise, or otherwise occupy your body while leaving room in your brain to quietly work out the problem that’s been giving you trouble.

Given enough time, we might come up with hundreds of possible activities that could jumpstart your dead battery. That said, let’s start with twenty-three:

  1. Indulge in a face mask.

  2. Take a hot shower.

  3. Walk in nature.

  4. Vacuum or sweep the floors.

  5. Make your bed.

  6. Do some gardening.

  7. Fold laundry.

  8. Go to a bookstore.

  9. Brew coffee or tea.

  10. Light a candle.

  11. Sit outside.

  12. Visit a farmer’s market.

  13. Visit an antiques shop.

  14. Clean out your car.

  15. Color in an adult coloring book.

  16. Work on a puzzle.

  17. Mow the lawn.

  18. Load or unload the dishwasher.

  19. Enjoy a hot bath.

  20. Chop some vegetables or fruit.

  21. Ride your bike.

  22. Go running.

  23. Play fetch with your dog.

  24. Put away all the clutter in your house.

  25. Cook a simple meal.

Next time you feel like your writing battery has died, start with one of these activities or a similar one. You might find the spark you needed just by walking away and thinking of something else!