Thursday, July 12, 2018

What to do When I Don't Feel Like Writing

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I love writing. And I love talking about writing.

Sitting around with other writers, discussing all things literary is one of my favorite things. It’s one of the reasons I love attending writing conferences.

But there are people we know who like talking about writing so much that’s all they do. They join writers groups, critique groups, even take classes. 

The one thing they don’t do is write.

Unfortunately, this problem of avoidance can happen to any of us.

Writing is hard work.  Avoiding it is often easier than just sitting in the chair and banging out words. There comes a time though, when we have to just quit procrastinating, sit in the chair and write.

Today I’m going to share some things I do when I’m tempted to do anything but write. 
  • Set a goal. I play games with my goals. Sometimes I’ll set a time goal—I’m going to write for an hour—no matter what. Sometimes I’ll set a word count goal—I’m not going to get up until I’ve written 1000 words.
  • Set a reward. I try to avoid food related goals, but truthfully, nothing helps the words flow like the promise of chocolate.
  • Break it into manageable pieces. Don’t tackle a hard goal all at once. Break it into small manageable bits. This will help you see the progress.
  • Turn on the music. For me, music (instrumental—no words) helps me get in the groove.
  • Change the scenery. When I hit a wall, it helps to go around it—literally. If I’m in my office, I may move to the dining room or even the back porch.
  • Turn off the Internet. Or at least log off your social media. It’s tempting to ask for support or commiseration on Facebook, but it can lead to conversation. And the only words you need are the ones that show up on the page.
  • Schedule a Write-in. Get a friend or two and hold each other accountable. If you can’t meet in person, get together online, through Skype or a Google Hangout.
  • Throw up on the page. NO, not literally. But I’ve found that sometimes I have to write junk before I can get to the good stuff. So go ahead and write crap, get it out of the way and keep going. Chances are there is something useable in it.
Now I’d like to hear from you. What tricks have you found to keep yourself in the chair banging out words when you'd rather be somewhere else?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. I have one buddy I can call anytime and have something I can't wait to write about. It works almost every time & usually comes out from something in the news, something that happened back in our hometown when we were teens, some joke one of us heard or read in an email. It even happened once when he called, sad as could be, after he'd just learned his wife had a terminal condition. Two days ago we talked and he relayed a bizarre conversation he'd had with 2 nosy church women about how his dog was handling his wife's loss. BINGO! By the end of our conversation, he had 3 stories and I had 2. Our fingers were twitching to get to "home row" on our keyboards.
    Jay Wright
    Anderson, SC

  2. On Sundays, I write only for pleasure. It makes it easier to write what I have to during the week when I know I can write exactly what I want on Sundays.

  3. Those are all good ideas. When I hit a blank wall and need to come up with an article for my newspaper columns, I sometimes call my grown children and grandchildren. Some of them have creativity oozing out their pores, and they offer some unique ideas.

  4. I always need what you have to say! Thanks, friend!

  5. When I hit a 'blank wall' it's usually because I have a problem I'm not wanting to face...not because I'm out of ideas. Then part of the problem is I can spend much time on my blog, or author's post and never get to the meat of the writing journey. Thanks for the prod, Edie. I always seem to need it. Sigh. ;)