Thursday, January 8, 2015

Get Out of a Winter Writing Slump

It’s cold. It’s icy. It’s Chicago in January. Seems like the perfect time to snuggle up with a notebook and hash out some new stand-up material, right? Wrong. What happens when the winter sludge starts to effect your motivation? Here are a few ways to spark you back into writing, even if you have some major Chicago winter blahs.

1.) Change Your Environment
Hibernation is real. It’s hard to drag yourself out but sometimes a change of scenery is just what your brain needs. If you are a “no pants, lay in bed with a lap top on your stomach” kind of writer, put on some drawers and head out to a coffee shop. If you like to write over lunch break at your day job, get up from your cubical and find a quiet corner of the cafeteria. Start free writing, focusing on your new space. This can stimulate your brain. If you write on your feet but can’t seem to put on boots and head out to open mics, do some bits in your bedroom. Maybe you’ll finally get some material for that Vine account you never use.

2.) Phone a Comedy Friend
We’re all in hideout mode. We all need to shake each other out of it. Reach out and make a writing partner or open mic date with a pal or two. Forcing yourself to face another human will make you less likely to put on those holiday jammies from your Gran and pass out by 7pm. It’s called accountability and it’s a great way to shame yourself into doing stuff.

3.) Use Your Holiday Cash & Take a Writing Class
If you can’t seem to write a word (or even get out of the house) fork over some cash and take a class. If you have the extra holiday cheddar why not use it to invest in your dang self? It will force you out, you’ll meet some new folks and get some material out of the bargain. If you’re short on scratch, host a writer’s workshop at your apartment or have a bunch of pals meet up before an open mic once a week. Give yourself challenges and assignments. Do them. Don’t just chat and drink. Or chat and drink if you want. What am I, your dang mom?!

4.) Shake Up Your Material & Writing Process.
If you’re sick of everything that comes out of your mouth try to write something completely out of character. If you’re a storyteller, try writing some one liners. If you're blue, try writing five minutes of corporate material. If you primarily write on your feet, try sitting down and creating a structured set on the page. You may find something weird and wonderful or you may hate the exercise so much you’ll have a new appreciation for your old writing ways.

5.) Step Out of Your Comedy Bubble
Comedy is a wonderful obsession but that love can also make for stale stand-up. It’s hard to create new material when you’re only performing comedy, writing bits, and watching comedy shows. Stand-up is about filtering your life experiences. So you know, go have some.

January in Chicago blows but that doesn’t mean your writing has to. Make the most of this character building bullshit weather. Good luck jokers. Stay warm!

Staff Writer - Kelsie Huff
Kelsie is a producer, writer, storyteller and stand up comedian based in Chicago. You can catch her performing at top clubs and showcases all over town (Zanies, Laugh Factory, UP Comedy Club) as well as at her own showcase - the kates a bi-monthly show in Lincoln square.