20 Strategies For Tackling That "Bottomless Pit" of Writing

    Climbing out

    For many writers, there often seems to be an ever-present, bottomless pit of work awaiting us at all times.

    Yes, we love the work that we do, and we feel grateful for the opportunity to be able to do it, but at times we can get a feeling of nausea or vertigo when the work seems never-ending: no matter how much we accomplish, there is still so much more to do.

    Sometimes it gets so bad that we really feel like giving up.

    But there are ways to tackle that Bottomless Pit so that you don’t give up.

    Here’s how:

    1. Create A Bottom To That Bottomless Pit

    There really needs to be an “end” in order for your writing to always feel fresh and exciting. That “end” for me happens to be on Fridays. On Saturday and Sunday, I stop writing.  I just stop. This is the bottom of my pit. There, at that bottom, I can rest and relax.

    Try setting aside at least two days out of your week where you don’t engage in heavy-duty writing work. So that you can sense a bottom to your “pit.”

    2. Let The Bottomless Pit Keep Going (Without You Around)

    For instance, if you have a blog try pre-scheduling blog posts so that they can roll out when you’re on break. Or try using Hoot Suite to pre-schedule all your social media updates before hand.

    3. Get Out Of The Pit Completely

    Sometimes you need to  “check out” of The Bottomless Pit completely in order to realize that life is not always about an endless array of To Do Lists. Sometimes life isn’t about doing, but about “being.” So, make sure to always give yourself a prolonged vacation from your work at some point during the year.

    4. Meditate

    But if you can’t take a vacation from you work right now, try taking a mini-vacation: take 15 minutes out of your today to meditate in silence and solitude. Go to a park, a beach, or just find a quiet place where you can sit alone. Once there, focus on your breathing. For 15 minutes, drop all of your to do lists and just be in that present moment. Become aware of the sounds, smells, and textures all around you. Try to become aware of your thoughts, but don’t take them seriously right now. Give yourself permission not to act on anything for those 15 minutes. Then, get back to work refreshed and energized.

    5. Become A Bottomless Pit Yourself

    Sometimes we have tons of ideas rolling in, but sometimes we don’t. When we don’t have new ideas, this can make being in “The Pit” very stressful and nauseating. So make sure to take advantage of those days when your mind seems to be a never-ending reservoir of ideas. When you have tons of ideas rolling in, take note of them all. Keep all these ideas in handy so that when you’re running dry, you can pull them out and use them for tackling that Bottomless Pit.

    6. Pump Yourself Up For The Bottomless Pit

    To get you in the mood to tackle The Bottomless Pit, listen to some great music to pump you up. In that moment, pretend as if the music is the soundtrack to your life—and as if you’re in a video montage in a movie starring you. (Sounds silly, I know, but it really works!)

    7. Become A Warrior

    You are a warrior. The Bottomless Pit is your enemy. So, battle, my friend. Throw your punches, unsheathe your sword, brandish your shield. Warriors never fear bottomless pits. They welcome them and beat them to the dust.

    A warrior is fighting for something. What are you fighting for? Clarify that, then move forward and fight for that something with every fiber of your being.

    8. Fall In Love

    Along with his cause, every warrior fights for his beloved, too. So what beloved are you fighting for? Your girlfriend, or boyfriend? Your husband, or wife? Your children? Your readers? Humanity? An idea: like justice, peace, or freedom? A belief in something bigger than you?

    What future do you want to secure for the beloved you’re fighting for? Let your work be an extension of that love–and The Bottomless Pit will be that much easier to tackle.

    9. Become A General

    You are a general. Plot, strategize—have one of those little war maps with the little miniature castles and cannons on them. Study your opponent. Study the battlefield and see the fastest and most effective way for you to plow through. A general sees the big picture, and can execute small picture goals in order to accomplish that larger vision. This is ONLY because the general has already laid out a strategy for the entire battle—from beginning to end. Check in with your “battle plan” often to keep from drowning in The Bottomless Pit.

    10. Use Negativity To Your Advantage

    There’s so much negativity nowadays. So, why not use it? Next time you witness negativity around, grab negativity by its throat and say: “You are the reason I work so hard. My determination means your weakness. So keep trying to knock me down, and I will keep fighting against you.”

    Negativity wins only when you give up. So be determined not to give up, and negativity will be baffled by its inability to do you damage.

    11. Recognize That Fear Is Your Enemy—Not The Task At Hand

    Your enemy is fear. Give in to fear, and fear wins. Don’t give in to fear, and you win. Which means you’re really capable of anything as long as you don’t give in to fear.

    12. Make The Work Meaningful

    The Bottomless Pit only gets hard to tackle when the work itself becomes meaningless. So, imbue your work with meaning. Take some time out today to figure out what is the meaning behind all the work you do.

    13. Make The Work Timeless

    We’re eager to dedicate our time and effort towards creating work that echoes throughout time—long after we’re dead.

    So, how can you make your work timeless today? 

    14. Make The Work Joyful

    Find the joy in the work you do today. If you can’t find the joy, imbue the work with joy.

    15. Make The Work Surprising

    Always leave an element of surprise for you and your reader. You’ll appreciate the surprise because it will keep you eager for the work (and your readers will appreciate the surprise because it will keep them eager for your work).

    16. Make The Work New 

    Don’t ever lose that drive to introduce something new to world. New isn’t always understood or praised when it first arrives, but it’s always appreciated (and often respected).

    17. Make The Work Daring

    We secretly love people who are courageous enough to say what they really think and feel. Many people may hate you for speaking out, but they will respect your decision to be so bold.

    18. Make The Work Useful 

    Anything that is useful is never a waste. When your work is useful, The Bottomless Pit becomes something you don’t dread but look forward to.

    19. Make The Work Uplifting

    When you’re uplifting, this inspiration will be returned to you almost instantly. As a result, you’ll be more eager to tackle The Bottomless Pit the next time around.

    20. Make The Work Beneficial

    Often times, we fear The Bottomless Pit because we worry that it might not, in actuality, be beneficial to us.

    But in order for our work to be truly beneficial, we must be open to receiving the gifts that will no doubt come from our hard work. We must remember that these gifts will come in many forms: a personal thank you later, a new opportunity to guest post on a big name blog, a new subscriber, or a friend telling you that they have introduced your blog to one of their friends.

    These are all precious gifts that must be recognized and received in order for us to understand the true impact of our “bottomless” work.

    Remember: no gift is too small.

    For instance, sometimes the gift of your work is simply having one more day in this life to engage in your passion—and that is truly a precious gift.

    If you can recognize even the smallest of the gifts you receive from your “bottomless pit” of work, then that “bottomless pit feeling” will quickly transmute itself into a feeling of Bottomless Possibilities that await you.

    What helps you overcome that “bottomless pit” feeling that comes with working too consecutively? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

    About the author:
    Ollin Morales is a fiction writer and professional blogger. His blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles his journey as he writes his first fiction novel. His blog offers writing advice as well as strategies to deal with life’s tough challenges. His blog was named one of The Top Ten Blogs for Writers by Write To Done two years in a row (2011, 2012).


    About the author

      Ollin Morales

      Ollin Morales's blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles the author’s journey as he writes his very first novel. His blog offers writing tips as well as strategies to deal with life’s toughest challenges. After all, as Ollin’s story unfolds, it becomes more and more clear to him that in order to write a great novel, he must first learn how to live a great life.

    • Great post Ollin. I needed this. After floundering in the “pit” for a few weeks and falling further behind, I am on a prolonged vacation. Unplugged for a couple weeks. Writing when the ideas come, stockpiling them, but still struggling with tossing out the guilt. Thank you for the advice on how to relax, detach and get inspired, and permission to take a vacation. I am printing this out and keeping it by my computer.

    • Pat Thomas says:

      This is extremely inspirational and awesomely useful. Thank you for taking time to write this post, it’s very timely for me.

    • Marla says:

      Great post! Sometimes, I think it’s hard to know what we are writing for, but when we hone in and truly start to understand, that is when it always gets better. <3

    • Thanks for this post. I think we get stronger every time we write. Even if the work is slow, we begin to see connections in the things we want to write about, in the areas of nonfiction we read and pursue and then incorporate into blog posts etc. As for fiction, I find that being alive drives what I want to write about and keeping a journal or morning pages helps a lot. Yes, there are dry periods and yes we sometimes feel we are buried in the bottomless pit. Meditation and rest are great–thoughts start anew and become fresh again.

      But bottom line: writers are writers through and through. You really cannot escape. I call it the joyful burden.
      [email protected] Boomer Highway

    • Ali says:

      Well, Finding the joy in work was almost impossible for me with always too much on my to-do… then I read somewhere (maybe on Carol Tices’ blog) to take at least one day off every week… First I thought I’ll be wasting 24 hours every week but since I’ve started to practice it, I’m more willing to start me next working week and now, I enjoy doing my work more 🙂

    • Carmelo says:

      Number 4 – Meditation takes practice but, wow, the awareness it eventually creates can be the most profoundly powerful thing in whatever we do. I’ve found myself so much more “present” which seems to be the underlying message in many of your tips.

      All the best to you and your book!

    • A meditating warrior?
      I like it.
      Castaneda wrote, “We choose only once, to be warriors, or ordinary..”
      Here’s to bucking the fear and contributing something to the world.
      Good luck on your book, Ollin.


    • Lara Britt says:

      The transition from working for a paycheck and working for yourself feels like a free-fall for many. Direct correlations are harder to establish and therefore, so are boundaries. If you punch the clock for X number of hours, you can expect X number of dollars. Taking the plunge to be your own boss means being the boss you would like to have. Ironically, we can drive ourselves harder than we would ever dream of driving someone else. Setting limits are as important as setting goals. Thank you, Ollin, that reminder.

      • Great point to make, Lara. That reality is a huge part of why I wrote this post.

    • Thank you for the great ideas. Lately, between building a platform, work, blogging, and being a real person, it seems that everything is a bottomless pit.

    • Catherine says:

      Great post! Spot-on. I’d been feeling the stress of having too much on my to-do list and this was just the post I needed to help me out of this funk.

      When you’re trying to juggle blog posts, an ebook, and your own fiction-writing goals, it can get crazy! Thanks for the tips to help me stop feeling so overwhelmed.

    • #7 and #10 Work the best for me. Great blog post 🙂

    • I really needed this post. I’ve really been feeling the nausea of facing the bottomless pit. I currently use 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, & 9 from time to time, but I may need to use them more consistently, not just when I’m about to fall apart. These techniques can be preventative. Unfortunately, I’ve been losing sight of 12-20. While they’re a part of my writing, I haven’t focused on them or purposefully directed my writing with these core principles. I’m ready to refocus and rejuvenate.


      • I’m so glad this came at the right time for you, Sarah! Let me know if they end up working for you!

    • Karen says:

      8 and 14 work best for me. Writing about what I believe in and finding joy in my writing. But the bottomless pit still gets overwhelming sometimes. Will try some of the other techniques here as well.

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