I get asked this question from readers several times a week, “How do you write when you don’t feel like it?”
It’s frustrating, right? One day you’re passionate about writing. You’re in the zone. Words come easily without much effort.
And then something happens.
You skip a day. And then two. A week goes by and you haven’t written a paragraph.
You feel guilty, like you should be taking your writing more seriously, but you just can’t muster the willpower to actually write.
Have you ever felt like this? I know I have. In this article, we’ll talk about why you don’t feel like writing and what you can do about it.
It’s Normal to Not Feel Like Writing
At some point in every major writing project I’ve ever worked on, I’ve wanted to give up. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve felt so exhausted, so stupid, so humiliated that I wanted to quit being a writer and give up my dream altogether.
Steven Pressfield calls this the Resistance, a malicious, sentient force actively seeking the destruction of your art. I call it the ugly middle. Whatever you want to call it, the truth is that when you reach this point, you’re close to a break through. It’s always darkest before dawn.
Push through. You can do it.
Five Tips to Push Through When You Don’t Feel Like Writing
How do you push through? Here are five tips to help you focus on your writing when it’s the last thing you want to do:
1. Find Your “Creative Nook”
In the acknowledgements of The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman thanked a museum café, saying that every time he went there, the problems he was having with his novel were solved in an hour.
Sometimes, all you need is the right location, your personal creative nook. I wrote my first book sitting in a particular seat in a particular coffee shop. Others like to write outside or in their home office. How about you? Where do you feel most creative?
2. Make It Your Job
Many of the best writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Salman Rushdie, and Virginia Woolf, wrote professionally before becoming fiction authors (Rushdie was a copywriter, Hemingway and Woolf journalists).
Consider reaching out to your local newspaper or a company that needs marketing copy. Perhaps you can volunteer or even get a part time job there. For the last five years, I’ve worked professionally as a writer, and while there are still times I don’t want to write, the fear of disappointing the people I write for and the need to support myself and my family keep me going.
Also, there’s nothing like a deadline to boost your creativity!
3. Take a deep breath. If that doesn’t work, take a walk.
If you’re stuck in the middle of a writing project, you may be just need to reset your brain. Try closing your eyes and taking several deep breaths.
If that doesn’t work, grab a notebook and a pen (or your iPhone with Evernote) and take a walk. This will clear your head and get your subconscious working to solve your creative blocks. Plus, you probably need the exercise!
4. Hang Out With Other Writers
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” said Jim Rohn, and it’s true, the people you spend time with rub off on you. Your lack of motivation could stem from hanging out with the wrong people.
By hanging out with other writers, their passion for their writing will inspire you to go back to your own.
5. Sit With the Pain and Grieve
Sometimes, writing is just hard, and you can’t do anything about it.
I used to procrastinate and promised I would come back to my writing later when I felt more inspired. Now, I recognize that the pain is a given. The sooner I get through it, the sooner I can have a breakthrough.
So I scrunch my face up. I whine. I write in my grief journal. I grieve the fact that creativity, like birth, is always difficult. But the fruit is worth it.
And then I write, whether I feel like it or not.
What do you do when you don’t feel like writing?
Spend some time writing today, whether you feel like it or not. If you get stuck, use one of the tips above to push through.
Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to give feedback to a few other writers.
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