Monday, May 27, 2024

6 Things To Do When You Absolutely Can't Write

by Ane Mulligan @AneMulligan

I'm stuck. No, not with writer's block. I'm waiting for cataract surgery. Those rascally buggers came on fast and furious. One day in December I could see, and within a week, my vision was so blurry, I had to use my readers to see distance. Yikes!

To make a long story short, I had to wait 3 months to see the eye doctor. Once she recommended surgery, the surgeon called me within a week. But my surgery would be another 2 months away.

I could manage an hour or so of close work per day. If I pushed for more, a massive headache was my reward. Because I was in editing, I had to use my available time for edits.

All that to say there was no writing time. My WIP sat on my laptop in lonely abandonment. 

So what CAN a writer do? 
  • 1. Turn your view to 500%. This is not a favorite mode for me. I have to scroll back and forth, and it was still fuzzy. It was an exercise in frustration.
  • 2. Use a voice recorder. This may work for some. Not so much for me. My brain works great in typing mode, but once I try to record myself, I stammer like a love-struck 13-year-old-boy.
  • 3. Brainstorm. That I can do. Especially since I'm more SOTP than plotter, brainstorming gives me a little practice plotting. Funny, I can record brainstorm ideas without stammering. Later, I can move the recordings to paper.
  • 4. Take a research field trip. All books—not just historical books—take a little research. This might be a good time to visit some of the tourist sites in your town. Go to the country for a picnic. Do something your character might do. In my upcoming release (fall 2024) Take My Hand, my main character takes her little brother to a local farm to pick blueberries, where she reveals a major plot point to him. I took a day-trip to a local farm. While I didn’t pick blueberries (they weren’t in season) I did pick an ice cream flavor.
  • 5. Go to lunch with another writer. Being around other writers is always desirable. You get to eat good food, and the fellowship lifts your spirits. Not to mention—okay, I’m mentioning it—toss in a little brainstorming for each of you and be encouraged that you're not alone.
  • 6. Pray. I listed all the active things to do first, but the most important item is prayer. God knows what you're going through. This down time—or at least slowed time—is according to His purpose. Often in the business of life or the tyranny of the urgent, my prayer life gets the short shift. So while my eyes are awaiting surgery, I'll use the time to draw closer to God. I get the feeling He's anxious to spend time with me. 

Join the conversation. If you have any other ideas for me, do tell! I still have another month to go before I'll be seeing again.


Ane Mulligan lives life from a director’s chair, both in theatre and at her desk creating novels. Entranced with story by age three, at five she saw PETER PAN onstage and was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. One day, her passions collided, and an award-winning, bestselling novelist emerged. She believes chocolate and coffee are two of the four major food groups and lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, The Write Conversation, and Blue Ridge Conference Blog.


  1. When I can't write because I'm stuck, I use that time to grab a notebook and my color pencils and draw. God's showing me how to handwrite as well. I'm totally blind and I use a screen reader, which is text to speach for my computer and my phone. Try using Voiceover for mac or Microsoft Narrator for windows as an assistive tool to help you write while you're waiting on surgery.

    1. Thank you so much! I'll try them. It will being some relief.

  2. Great points! So sorry you have to wait so long for help. Praying for you.

  3. wow, you went through a lot! I had to read it twice: 'used readers to see distance!' Usually when I'm stuck (block, for me), I have 223 books on my Kindle, so I attack those and blog on them after I review them. I also have a penchant for true crime and I have a manual typewriter, so all I need is to plop my virtual fedora on, fake drinking whiskey (water), and plunk away at some fun short stories or compilations of longer stories on my typewriter. Only wish the typewriter had a delete button...

  4. Ane, have you listened to audiobooks? Hoopla is amazing, but I have Audible, too. Upon Waking is a short devotional that I have been enjoying, as of late. Praying for you, dear writer friend. ❤️🙏