When You Should Be Writing But Can't…
What do you do when you just don’t want to write? You know what I mean. You know you should be writing. You tell yourself you should finally finish that short story. You should turn off the television, close up Facebook, and stop checking your email.
You should should should…
But you can’t.
6 Tricks For When You Don’t Want To Write
This happens to me, too. For the last month or so I have been blocked. I know I should be working on my fiction. I know just the story I should be working on, but I just can’t seem to motivate myself to actually do it. I’m still writing for work, because I have to, but I’ve had little desire to write for myself.
Here are six things that I do when I know I should write but just don’t want to.
Even if you can’t write, you can always read. In fact, if you’re not reading, that may be the reason you don’t want to write in the first place. Reading fuels writing. It inspires. It motivates. Reading is one of the best ways to improve your writing.
In 2013, I’ve made it my goal to read 100 books, and I know this new focus on reading will help my writing. What’s your reading goal for 2013?
2. Morning Pages
I always forget this one when I’m stuck, but it’s one of the best ways to unstick yourself.
Morning pages is a discipline invented by Julia Cameron. Julia suggests free writing three pages by hand when you first wake up as a way to ignite your creativity. You don’t show these pages to anyone. They are not meant for publication. Instead, it’s a way to remind yourself that writing is, first and foremost, for you.
I did my morning pages this morning and had a major breakthrough. If you’re stuck, you should try it.
The truth is, you are at your most creative when you’re not creating.
Bob Dylan discovered this in 1965 when he decided to quit being a musician. Burnt out and fed up with the scene, he decided to retreat to his cabin in upstate New York and become a novelist. A few days into his exile, however, he wrote “Like a Rolling Stone,” one of the most successful songs in the history of rock and roll.
Rest makes you creative, and if you’re not resting, you won’t be as creative as you could be. (Note: for it to count, you have to be resting from hard work, not just resting for rest’s sake.)
4. Have an Adventure
If you’re feeling uninspired, maybe you’re living an uninspiring life. If you want to write a good story, maybe you need to be living a better story.
As you think about the upcoming year, what adventure could you have? What can you do to make 2013 a year worth remembering? You don’t have to go on a road trip or jump out of a plane to go on an adventure. Instead, visit your local library with your journal or read that 1,000 page classic you’ve been putting off.
Seize the day and break through your apathy.
5. Laugh at Yourself
Writing stories should be fun! However, when you’re an English Literature major, like I am, you learn how to take stories very seriously. The problem is that when you try to take you’re writing too seriously, it becomes this overwhelming burden that you have no desire to carry.
Here’s a fun exercise: open up a story you’ve been working on, skim it, and then start laughing. It doesn’t matter if it’s not funny. Laughing itself will help you take yourself less seriously, making you more productive. (It’s also a lot of fun. Trust me!)
6. Write Anyway
Can I be honest? I hate this advice. I hate it when you tell people you’re blocked, you’re having a hard time writing, you open up to someone, and they say, “You can’t write? Well, write anyway.” Oh thanks. I didn’t think of that. That’s almost as good Bob Newhart’s advice.
And yet sometimes, I need this advice. I can justify myself and explain my problem, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. I was made to write and I need to do it, regardless of how I’m feeling.
Remember: Your feelings don’t control you. You control you. If you want to write, then do it.
Does this ever happen to you? How do you motivate yourself to write when you don’t feel like it?
Spend some time free writing. Write for you and no one else.
Write for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, don’t share your practice in the comments section. Don’t use any of it in your work in progress. Just write for the sake of writing.
Oh, and have fun! 🙂