What to Do When You Don’t Want to Write

We’ve all been there; we love writing, but we just don’t feel like it on a particular day. So what do you do, when this happens?

Take a break, take a Kit-Kat! There’s no point sitting staring at the computer or at your pen and paper if you just don’t want to. Take a break, even just for an hour. Go for a walk, read a book, watch TV, go shopping, work on your hobby, whatever you like.

Don’t drive yourself crazy with the guilt of not wanting to write every minute of every day. On the screenwriting course I’ve just finished, a lecturer said while writers make a living from writing, at the same time we can sometimes dread sitting in front of the computer in the morning, wondering what on earth will I write? It’s good to know I’m not alone.

Reward, reward! Yesterday, I thought if I do a good day’s work, then I’ll sit down, relax and watch one of the unseen DVDs that have been sitting in my living-room for the past few months. That thought drove me through the day and I worked as quickly as possible. It turned out that I didn’t get to watch that DVD in the end, hehe, but hey I’ll watch it tonight.

Do you have moments when you don’t want to write? What do you do to pick yourself up out of it?

17 thoughts on “What to Do When You Don’t Want to Write

  1. ria

    I like the idea of setting a reward for yourself. I don’t ever think of doing things like that. I agree completely with the rest of your post.

    I wrote a post exactly like this one a few weeks back. I find that routine is great for daily writing. Once you get into the habit of writing every day, you don’t have as many ‘I don’t feel like writing’ days.

  2. Dan

    Great advice to take a break. I think not wanting to write has to have something to do with this mysterious writer’s block, which I always blame when the enthusiasm just isn’t there. Sometimes my problem is not prioritising my writing – should I write fiction today or non-fiction; should I write what pays the bills or write something that I really get a lot of joy out of (ie. a short story).

    To spark a little creativity I always like to listen to music or better still go for a walk listening to my Ipod.

  3. Great advice…

    I would say that if it’s newsy type stuff you are writing, or any type of content, post short articles on social networking sites etc…You don’t have to always post a long post on a blog etc…

  4. Great idea, Olive. I find that if I go for a long walk, things mull around and come together than if I sit looking at the blinking of a cursor.
    DVD always a great reward.
    Interesting about your screenwriting course, I was checking them out the other day, when I have a few bob to spare, I would love to do one.

  5. We do need to take breaks. You actually sound like you’re more disciplined than I am. Good tips!

  6. Ann

    A reward system sounds like a great idea. I find if I do take a break, I find it hard to get back to it. I need routine and I need pressure of deadlines or I am lost. Then instead of chocolate being my reward it becomes my consolation.

  7. Good question!
    I’m not disciplined enough to reward myself for writing, I would just cut straight to the reward and add a hunk of guilt to my problems! I am having the moments you speak of a lot this week though!
    I try to just stay seated and mull through, I’ve only a small window of time to write, so if I went for a walk or did something else…my time would be up!

    I often light a candle, make more tea …if i’m having the problem when I’m at the laptop I might switch to a notebook or vica versa. But I try and stick with it. Some unexpected writing can come when you are most resistent!

  8. I try to change projects, if it doesn’t work I do as you said, I have a pause, preferably leaving home, having some air or doing chore that won’t require much of my mind. This way the brain rests and I’ll have energy to go back to writing.

  9. Great advice in this post :) And it applies to “non-writers” too. It’s nice to know that there’s nothing wrong with a little inspiration drought! What I am curious to find out is – Which film were you thinking of using for a reward? The Ghost Writer? :D

  10. @Chris I absolutely agree with that – Short blog posts are often more appealing to readers and there is a talent involved in keeping a blog post short. People often mistakingly assume that a lengthy article means a better article, but writing something a little more concise is a craft in itself and often yields a better result than its lengthier cousin!

  11. @Róisín; hehe, could be!

  12. Or maybe “The Notebook”?!

  13. I think the same goes for any job, but writing and anything handmade is especially like this, we can drive ourselves crazy with the thought “why don’t I feel like writing?”
    Love your post Olive, and you’re definitely not alone!
    I usually try to do something else and then when my mind goes into the “hmmm that situation would be interesting told like…” I sit down to type it all out :)

  14. Taking a break definitely works, especially if I do something active, like taking the dog for a walk. Usually I can work through whatever problems I’m having, and then I come back eager to get it on the page.

    I also use write or die by Dr. Wicked a lot, which motivates me to keep writing and stop staring at the screen.

  15. Fiona Griffin

    Coffee, put the pen down, shut off the computer. Just don’t look at your work. Better still, I always find that having two projects on the go can actually help.
    And don’t knock that chocolate. I make truffles that aren’t that fattening and quite rewarding.

  16. I agree with everyone: chocolate, coffee, walks, DVDs, breaks, reading…I think if you distract yourself you can actually work yourself up to wanting to write again. Its almost reverse psychology. You more you deny yourself the more you want to do it!

  17. so perfect that i stopped by here on a writing break! : )

    i think someone said above, if you have a routine, it helps. it really does. i treat it like a job. a job i like and enjoy though. but that doesn’t mean it is not work.

    also, although i do have a routine, i just go moment by moment. hopping from one project to another within hours, so i never feel like i am actually doing one thing, dragged out. that is just how i work.

    and i also have one full day off from writing where i don’t even think about writing! have had to train myself to do that, and i am getting better with time.

    lovely to stop here…

    ~a.

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