Are there times in your life when it's more difficult to write? Do you want to learn how to write when you don't feel like it?
As a writer, you probably feel frustrated when the muse doesn't show up, or you feel stuck on a bad idea for a story but desperately want to write one. One day you're passionate about writing. You're in the zone.
And then, something happens.
You skip a day. And then two. A week goes by and you haven't written a paragraph. You enter a black hole of unproductive writing sessions.
You feel guilty, like you should be taking your writing more seriously, but you just can't muster the willpower to actually write. This is real life for a real writer: there are days when we don't want to write, where not even an extra-large cup of coffee will get you through a writing session.
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 creative thinking and 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 breakthrough.
The best thing you can do is push through it.
5 Practical Tips to Push Through Unproductive Attempts at 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 acknowledgments 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. This location became my own personal writing space that, on many days, triggered my creative juices.
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).
If you want to become a better writer, you have to practice writing—and finding a full-time job in writing might be the creative career you need in order to actually dedicate plenty of time to writing.
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 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. Sometimes fresh ideas need to come from doing something different, and preferably something that causes movement.
Spending time out of a chair is good for your mental health—and physical health, too!
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. It's never a waste of time building a community of writers who you can support, and who will support you in return.
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.
The Best Writing Can Come After a Slow Period
Whether you're an amateur writer or a published author, every writer experiences days where they just don't feel like writing.
However, if you want to become a better writer, you have to practice—and this means writing through the bad writing days, or low moments where you just don't feel like writing.
On day you don't feel like writing, set some small, simple goals for you to accomplish and push through the disinterest. If this doesn't work, or even if it does, try one of the five practical tips in this article to ignite a spark and love for writing again.
If you do this, you'll be on your way to becoming a better writer—and a far more resilient one.
What do you do when you don't feel like writing? Let us know in the comments.
Write. Right now. Whether you feel like it or not.
Not sure what to write? Pick one of these three choices:
- Free write. Literally write down whatever thoughts come to mind.
- Work on your work in progress. How much can you add to it right now?
- Try this writing prompt: She'd been walking along the side of the road for an hour now.
What you write isn't as important as the fact that you write. This isn't about feeling like you want to write. It's about writing. And 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 practice box below. And once you post, be sure to give feedback to a few other writers.