How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like It: 5 Practical Tips You Can Try Today

by Joe Bunting | 87 comments

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.

how to write when you don't feel like it

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:

  1. Free write. Literally write down whatever thoughts come to mind.
  2. Work on your work in progress. How much can you add to it right now?
  3. 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.

Happy writing!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. Margaret Terry

    I just did this very exercise an hour before I read your post! When I’m stuck and don’t feel like working on my work in progress, I write something else just for the exercise. I try to remember a story I might have heard that impacted me or that was interesting enough to share with a friend over a glass of wine and then I write it….here’s the one I wrote this morning….

    The other day, a friend of mine withdrew $60 from an ATM at a convenience store and when she stopped for gas on her way to a luncheon, she realized she’d left the $60 in the tray. She drove to her lunch berating herself for always being in a hurry and tried to assuage her guilt for being careless by hoping the
    person who found the money was someone who needed it more than her.

    At lunch, her friend suggested she return to the convenience store. “Maybe
    no one else has used the machine – you never know”. On her way home, she stopped at the ATM. The $60 was gone as she expected. She withdrew more and turned to leave when the clerk stopped her. “Are you the lady who was here earlier?” She was surprised to be recognized. “Yes, I was here before lunch, why?” He showed her 3 twenty dollar bills. “Right after you left, a little girl who comes in with a list for her sick mother found this money while I was filling her order – is it yours?”

    • GuesD

      Aww!! You know, it’s stories like these that make you want to really believe that there still might be some goodness left in the world!!


    • Margaret Terry

      thx, GuesD. My feeling exactly – it wasn’t just the little girl, but the convenience store guy could have pocketed the cash. Great to see honesty is so alive…

    • Elwyne

      This actually happened to me – my husband left $40 in the tray at the self-check line in the grocery store, then drove across town. He called me in a panic. I went to the grocery store and asked – the guy in charge of the self-check line had found the money and set it aside for us. Great story. 🙂

    • Margaret Terry

      oooooh, I LOVE hearing this! More proof of goodness and integrity…

    • Tomdub

      Great story, Margaret. I also like your suggestion of working on some other writing if you’re feeling stuck on your present project. I’ve been in a month-long slump with my blog and even longer on my novel, but coming on here and doing some of these practices help get me back on track.

    • Margaret Terry

      thanks, Tom. Joe is right about going out somewhere. I also visit a small diner once/mo. and take my journal – they know me there and I can sit alone in a booth and write.. I’ve done a lot of surprise writing at that diner.

    • Mariaanne

      Interesting. The writing style is like listening to someone talk. I like it.

    • Karl Tobar

      I admire how you can turn things that interest you into short stories.

    • Margaret Terry

      thank you Karl. It’s weird because I am an extrovert. I am energized by being with people, yet I feed off watching and listening…

  2. Elwyne

    When I don’t feel like writing, I don’t write. Fighting just makes it worse; I feel bad about myself and my work when maybe I just need a break. I always come back to it. I tried Ray Bradbury’s ‘thousand a day’ recommendation, and it just made me not enjoy writing.

    Writing as an end in itself is not the point for me. I write to say something, to express something, or just to enjoy writing. If I have nothing to say, or I’m not enjoying it, I’m not going to do it. I stop, and then I come back. I have not had the experience of a day not writing stretching into days/weeks/months. I always come back.

    I don’t quit. This is important. You quit, you’re done. I stop, and then I start again.

    When I am stuck on a particular piece I have a couple of ways of dealing with it. Sometimes I stop for a while. Sometimes I work on something else. Sometimes I write something about what I’m writing; for example, when I was stuck on the relationship between two characters in my story, I wrote their whole backstory, from the time they met to the time of my story. It was much easier to write them after that. Sometimes I write about being stuck. So far it has always turned out.

    Let me add that I am a new writer; I’ve been doing this for a couple of years, as opposed to my whole life. I don’t write for a living, or have a goal to write for a living. Writing is a hobby that is supposed to be fun. So what works for me may not work for others. But it works for me.

    • Mariaanne

      I agree the last line is great, but the whole scene is clear and shows the relationship between the family members. Good writing.

    • catmorrell

      Well said. I also write for the joy of it. The stories are for my grand kids. Stepping away from a story for a month or so brings new eyes to it and new insights. I usually, just work on something different until I am ready to restart the old project.

    • Sandi Guse

      I am on the same page as you !!

    • Jill Schreiber

      I really like your idea of writing about not writing. I play and write music, and sometimes, I have to take one particular measure and get it straightened out before I can proceed.

      The delete button is, for the most part, one of my very best friends. We are wealthy, we American writers. We have time, we have electricity to power the computers we have the grace to own, we have paper, we have money to buy the paper, the commercial infrastructure is on our side, and on and on. Writing would be different, and perhaps better, were we limited to ink, pen and paper that itself was expensive. We would probably have less leisure time in which to write.

      At this point, I’m going to step away and join disqus, although the word “disquiet” pops up in my mind and makes me wonder if this is a good idea. I’ve dipped a toe in by writing what I’ve written so far…so here goes a foot. Twelve toes to a foot.

  3. Pamela Hodges

    This morning I didn’t write as soon as I woke up. I weeded my flower beds at 5:30 a.m. Now I am writing.

    • Joe Bunting

      You get points for being up at 5:30.

  4. Sarah Kolb-Williams

    I love this. I have at least 6 blog posts semi-drafted and I have no desire to finish them — I’d much rather spend my writing time working on my pet project / science fiction novel — but you know what, I have to, because that’s how people find me. Going to do that now. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    • Joe Bunting

      Do it, Sarah. Good for you. Finishing is hard for me too, but It’s the most important thing I do.

  5. Puja

    Jenna had never attended a baby shower before.

    She held up the duck-adorned onesie and wondered if Maribel was tired of the color yellow yet. Although, if Maribel knew the sex, she could just as easily suffocate in blue or pink.

    Maribel had always been the last person you’d imagine getting pregnant. Sure, she didn’t come from a great neighborhood and her older sister had gotten pregnant at 15, and so had their mom. But Maribel did not remotely resemble the rest of her family. While they were short and curvy and animated (your run-of-the-mill Latinas, Jenna thought), Maribel had always been the shy bookworm type, gangly as an ostrich. She graduated from college early, and had shared with Jenna and the rest of her friends that 25 was her marriage goal, 28 her pregnancy goal.

    Well, 20 would have to be her new pregnancy goal, Jenna thought to herself.

    Maribel had sprung the news with a two-line e-mail, the summer after graduation. Btdubs, I’m preggo, she may as well have texted. The baby daddy’s my cholo of two months.

    Jenna’s mom had objected to her even going to the baby shower, like pregnancy was contagious. “Do you really want to get involved?” her mom had asked rhetorically, slipping off her Jimmy Choos as she did so.

    “She’d do the same for me, I guess,” Jenna said in a noncommittal tone.

    “You would never be in that situation.”

    Maribel had been on the verge of breaking up with her boyfriend when she got the news. They were happy now, Maribel had said. Doubtful, Jenna thought.

    She picked up a solid yellow onesie, as expected, along with a matching hat to make her way to the cashier’s.

    • Elise White

      Maribel’s story sounds interesting – I’d love to read more!

    • Tomdub

      Great job, Puja. I really love the second to last paragraph. It tells so much in such a few words. I like how Jenna is having to maneuver through the tension, from what to buy for a baby gift to how to respond to her friend getting pregnant out of wedlock. That’s real life.

    • Mariaanne

      I immediately find myself wanting to know “what went wrong” why Jeanna has acted out of character. It’s a good start it makes me want to read more.

    • Karl Tobar

      It’s funny, my friends and I always joke that if you don’t have kids by the time you’re 21, you’re not really Latino. Yay for stereotypes!*
      “Btdubs, I’m preggo” great line! And great practice, too. Good characterization.

      *just kidding. Sometimes my humor gets me in trouble 🙁

    • Carol

      A great beginning to what I hope is a longer story. Great character description. I already feel like I know them!

    • Susan Anderson

      The Jimmy Choos lended a punch to the mentality of Jenna’s Mom. Sad, but true. We live in a complicated society. Children call forth from us the basic of life. Your point of how the couple almost broke up and then found a way to be a family is very endearing. My 15 year old daughter just went Christmas shopping for a newborn with her foreign language club. She had so much fun! And that yellow onesie you wrote about? Who wouldn’t feel all sunny inside buying that for a new baby? Good, real, and uplifting writing.

    • J L

      sounds incredibly dull…

  6. Tomdub

    The pungent smell of Ben-Gay fills the room as momma quietly massages my father’s aching shoulders. A wispy apparition of stale cigarette smoke hovers over him, hugging the low ceiling of our modest living room. He drops his dentures into the empty glass sitting precariously on the arm of his worn recliner.

    I carefully maneuver the rabbit ears of the old RCA just as Johnny concludes his opening monologue. When the picture finally comes into focus, dad yells at me to stop. While he lights his next cigarette, I quickly make my way to my little sister who is hiding behind momma’s dress. A low, sustained groan emits from under his prickly mustache with a smoky escape. Everyone quietly minds the floor, guarding the fragile eggshells that are scattered about like bear traps.

    • Margaret Terry

      powerful last line, makes me want more of this story. You paint a strong picture here in a few short sentences, well done! Is this a work in progress? (note: I had to read the line with “Johnny” twice to get it and I was a huge Carson fan – might want to say his last name so the reader knows right away)

    • Tomdub

      Thanks, Margaret. This is not a work in progress, but perhaps it will be 🙂 It started out as a Facebook post remembering the 50th anniversary of my grandpa’s death. He was a hard man. I took it this morning and revised it for this practice. I’m glad you finally got the Johnny Carson reference, but you’re right, it probably needs his last name. Lots of young reader wouldn’t have a clue.

      I also had a hard time deciding whether to go present or past tense on this. This is based on memories from 50+ years, but it didn’t read right for me in past tense. What do you think?

    • Margaret Terry

      I guess it depends on what you decide to do with it, Tom. The present tense with the young son’s voice is so authentic plus with a child’s voice, the “hardness” of the man is stronger.

    • Annette Skarin

      Well said Margaret, I agree.

    • Annette Skarin

      I would love to read it as a work in progress.

    • Annette Skarin

      I got Johnny right away, because when he was introduced by Ed (McMahon), he would say, “Heeeeeres, Johnny,”
      I like your writing style.

    • catmorrell

      Powerful memories and then the egg shell punch. Wow! Holding my breath for more. A normal Friday night in the 70s that was not so normal.

    • Karl Tobar

      Great descriptions. “A wispy apparition of cigarette smoke” – good stuff! I love the line about the eggshells.

    • Audrey Chin

      Mmmmm, great stuff. I can feel the tension in the room.

    • Carol

      Great description. I think I’ve been in that room!

    • Susan Anderson

      A smokey, seventies type feel to it. Been there too.

  7. Elise White

    As I slept I dreamed of the ride.

    I debated on the route. Should I take the trail or go straight up Pacific? Would I be a wimp if I just took the bus?

    A few months ago, when I took the bus to work for the first time in my life, I thought I deserved a medal. Of course, it was December in Nebraska and we got blasted with snow that night when I came home. It’s funny how now taking the bus seemed like a small accomplishment, but riding the bike made me feel like an Olympian.

    The tone of the alarm on my phone broke my sleep. It was decision time. I gathered my things, scarfed down breakfast, and carried the bike down the 3 flights of stairs of my apartment.

    Outside the cool air made me nervous. After 2 long rides, would I make it to work on time? I hopped on the bike and felt my sore bones hit the saddle. I took a turn onto Leavenworth.

    “Here we go.”

    • Mariaanne

      What a good start. It’s quick and says a lot about the character.

  8. Madison

    She waslost. Without one doubt, she was so lost and alone. Remember? She went crazy. Her own head betrayed her. Her mind became her own personal hell. Every thought, every decision, and every move, everything drove her straight down into the steepest hole. No red exit signs, no openings, no hope. People came, fans. They watched and cheered and rooted for her, but no one put out their hand. She was lost and alone and she had to get out of there herself.

    She writes and writes and writes and cries and writes and writes and writes again. She recorded every thought, every decision, every move, and everything. She wrote and wrote and wrote and crossed out everything she wanted to change. She’s going to be okay. She’s going to make things better. She’s going to see the light. She’s going to find someone. Then she’s going to find someone else. Friends, family, love. She’ll paint because she enjoys it. She’ll read because she enjoys it. She’ll do the things she enjoys and every once in a while she’ll read what she wrote. She’ll read how she felt. She’ll read, she’ll feel, she’ll remember, and she’ll think about that time. She’ll never forget how she climbed out. She learned. She learned.

    • Mariaanne

      This seems like a very unhappy mind and I wonder what is really going on. I like how the rhythm enhances the unhappy, hopeless, endless feeling of this. I do think it would be hard to read something written in this style for a long period of time. Something needs to happen.

    • Karl Tobar

      A unique writing style for sure. Try some action sequences next time in this same style, maybe. I’d be curious how it turns out. Like, she did x, and because of x, y happened. Because of y, she did z.

    • Kelly Oberbeck

      I would pay to read more. I love this style. It’s deep and resonates with people who have rich internal lives. I love how you began and how you ended. It was well written. I enjoy writing that helps a reader recognize certain emotions. Not just “happy” or “sad”. This is written in blood. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Stephanie Noel

    1. My creatives nooks are coffee shops. I spent many evenings and most of my Saturday drinking coffee and writing. I’m lucky enough to have a partner who share the passion of creation. We both work on our projects, together.

    2. As an administrative assistant, I get to write the weekly school bulletin. I also have to write letters, meeting minutes and other documents. I’m always writing something.

    3. I find browing websites like pinterest or 9gag distract me enough that when I go back to my WIP, my brain is ready to start again. I find I also get many ideas while walking, swimming and before I fall asleep.

    4. I have yet to hang with other writers but I interact with many of them online. My partner, although not a writer, works on personnal projects as well; together we find ways to encourage each other.

    5. When I start thinking my work is crap, I just stop and do something else. It’s the best way to start spiraling into negativity.

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks for sharing this, Stephanie. Very helpful, and it’s a good insight into your writing life.

  10. Mariaanne

    This is pretty bad but I haven’t written in weeks (been sick and still am not quite up to par) but I’m going to try to at least do The Write Practice for a while to keep in form.

    The Hightowers had lived in Cave Mountain VA for hundreds of years, and they had always been self-insulated, and removed from everyone else. They stayed on their farm except for trips to the drugstore or grocery store in town. They paid taxes and they contributed to local charities financially but they weren’t in the bridge club, or the choral society, or the local chapter of the DAR of the UDC.
    The Hightowers came to town occasionally and they talked politely to sales clerks and waitresses but they wouldn’t allow the town people to draw them into conversation. Of course, because they were self-contained, and completely uninterested in the rest of Cave Mountain, the populace was fascinated by them. Most people in Cave Springs didn’t like the Hightowers much, since the Hightowers snubbed them, but they were hooked on the Hightowers like people get hooked on celebrities. The Hightowers were famous in Cave Springs, the source of wonder and speculative gossip.
    Hightower children went to boarding school in Richmond. This increased the social distance between the Hightowers and the rest of Cave Spring since childhood friendships, the only friendships not colored by expectation and pre-judgement were not allowed to form between the two groups. But in the early seventies all of that changed.
    Vanessa was the first Hightower to attend public high school, and Carl, her lab partner, fell in love with her the minute he heard her voice lilting from low to high, and from almost a whisper to a quietly loud volume, in three sentences.
    She said, “Hi, I’m Vanessa Hightower”, and she held out her hand. Carl shook her hand while thinking – nobody shakes hands when they meet in lab class, maybe she’s just a weird Hightower, but maybe she just doesn’t care what’s cool or not. The muscles of her hand were strong under her soft, warm skin.
    “Are we going to have to dissect? I don’t eat meat, and I don’t think I can dissect, so you will have to do the cutting.”
    He nodded. He would do it. He realized as he watched her that he would do most anything she told him to and he would do it gladly.

    • Karl Tobar

      This isn’t bad at all, Marianne. A good concept and some strong characters, too. Kudos too for coming here to stay sharp. That’s what I do 🙂

  11. Man O' Clay

    I write in short bursts. Because I only have time to write in the wee hours of the morning, I can escape for awhile for the rest of the day. The next morning I can refocus and start over.

    There are those days that are harder. Like toward the end of the week when I haven’t slept much. On those days I don’t put too much pressure on myself. I’m in it for the long haul. I know writing takes time. And yes, it’s worth it.

    • Joe Bunting

      Me too, Man O’ Clay. 🙂 That’s the only way to be in it. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Katrina Tatum


    Alright. Uniform day. The date’s been planned for weeks, brochures and emails have been sent out to every family, and we’ve discussed exactly how I’m getting to and from the school. But nothing prepared me for how insane it would be.

    See, there are just under 200 freshmen who need uniforms. So just under 200 kids are going to be in the student center between 3 and 7. They have it over the course of four hours so we’re not all in there together, of course. But it’s still absolutely ridiculous.

    It’s definitely easier for the kids with siblings who have already gone through this. They’ve already figured out sizes and just need to get in, buy their clothes, and leave. But for me—and the rest of the unlucky ones—we’re stuck doing our best to slip in and out of the bathrooms quickly. There’s a massive line, so I go ahead and take three of everything in the three sizes anywhere near mine and wait my turn.

    I fiddle with my phone as the line creeps forward. Ahead I can see two familiar faces from volleyball. I can’t go join them, for obvious reasons. And since Annika got caught in traffic, I’m really stuck. Everyone around me is chatting with someone they know.

    Under normal circumstances, I’d just continue to stare at my phone until I got into a stall. But I’m almost in high school. This is my high school class. Aside from a few kids I know, I’m going to start fresh. And I promised myself I’d do my best to be more outgoing. I take a breath and tap on the shoulder of the girl in front of me, who’s talking to her mom.

    “Hi, I’m Savannah—” I say as she turns, then stop.

    She matches my stare, and I know exactly what she’s thinking—’this kid’.

    I want to turn around and pretend I didn’t tap her on the shoulder. Now, obviously it’s too late, but if I were doing what I were comfortable with doing, I’d mumble “never mind” and go back to my texts. But not now. Whether I want to or not, I will not back down. So I straighten my shoulders, keep my head up, and smile. “I’m Savannah.”

    “Kat…” she says slowly.

    “So you’re coming here too, huh?” No use pretending we haven’t seen each other before. She nods, and I continue. “It’s kinda funny, how a bunch of people from all around are coming together for high school. Like, people we know.”

    Her mom is keeping up a conversation with a guy in front of her. Kat nods again.

    We stand in silence for a minute, me trying to decide what to say, her daring me to say it. She crosses her arms. I tense mine. She sizes me up, and finally I have to say it.

    “Alright, look. Kat. I get that you probably… do hate me, or at least really don’t like me. And I know why, I mean, I’ve said a bunch of stupid things lately. About… your team, and… you. And I know that I really need to learn to shut up sometimes, even though it’s too late. But the reason I came here was to start over. And I guess if we’re going to be in classes with each other for the next four years, I need to say some things.”

    I take a breath, trying to summon any remaining courage.

    “Look, I’m really sorry I’ve been such a jerk, saying things and not really thinking about them until it’s too late. I’m sorry I’ve been a jerk to you, and your friends, and your whole team. You might know, when I get really angry or upset I just go off. You’ve probably heard. I’ve screwed up a lot with you, without even getting the chance to know you. So I also wanted to just ask… if we could start over.”

    My heart is drumming. I imagine my face is completely red. But I don’t look down. Instead I watch Kat’s face as she really considers what I’ve said. I’m sure she expected me to bring it up, but not give an entire apology like I did. And I didn’t mean to, at first. Just—once I started, I had to get it all out, and—

    “Okay, you’re definitely right. You’ve been pretty much a jerk the past year.” My eyes drop. “But I agree, we’re gonna be here together, and I guess something needs to change. So… I guess I’ll do my best to forgive the whole situation.” Kat gives a small smile. “Look, you’re lucky, okay? The whole thing was awful. You look like it’s been tearing you apart, though. Maybe I won’t forget it. But I won’t hold it against you, okay?”

    I grin. “Thanks.” And then I stand there in line super awkwardly because I have no idea what to say next. Neither does Kat, so she settles on yelling, “CAN WE GET THIS LINE MOVING, THESE AREN’T GODDAMN PROM DRESSES!”

    At my face, she shrugs. “Just saying.”

    • Karl Tobar

      Yay for friendship!

    • Margaret Terry

      you had me at “uniforms”. 5 years of Catholic High School.

  13. Karl Tobar

    When I don’t feel like writing, I read. Other times I come here! 🙂
    I think the main cause of not wanting to write–for me anyway–is lack of inspiration. What to write, what to write, what to write?
    Today for inspiration I just wrote random sentences until it turned into something. Eventually I ended up with the first sentence of my following practice and kind of “went with it.” I wrote over a thousand words but I don’t want to hog all the space on the page so, well here’s part of it. 🙂
    My practice:

    I got lost in downtown San Diego. I didn’t want to pee in the alley behind the
    bar but the restroom was full. After waiting in line for what seemed like an hour, my good judgment escaped me in the form of a painful belch. The pressure in my bladder further clouded my decision-making skills and at that moment I’d
    come to the conclusion that I could wait in line and miss last call—that 15
    minute space on the clock which signaled my last chance to get one more drink—or slip out the back door, pee on the wall, and run back to the bar for another beer. I looked first to the 3 people in front of me (gentlemen who still had not made it into the actual restroom, I might add) then to the exit door with one of those heavy metal bars at its middle. As I shuffled in place, a warm
    drop slipped out from between my legs and I made my decision.

    I burst through the door into the dark and desolate alleyway, ripped open my pants, leaned one hand on the brick wall and let the liquid shoot out in a near-orgasmic stream of relief and weight loss. Had my eyes been open I may have noticed the person at my feet.

    If he was sleeping when I started pissing on him, he wasn’t anymore. We locked eyes; I’ll never forget how white his eyes appeared in the black night. In his eyes I felt anger and hatred radiating—absolutely enveloping my whole body. He reached into his overcoat and began to stand. With one hand on the wall over him, still unzipped, I decided to kick him in the head. I could have run
    away. I should have run away and just held my pants up with my hands but that judgment cloud just wouldn’t dissipate, it seemed.

    His hand shot to his face. A low groan escaped from between his fingers and I stood, dumbstruck. Kick him again the voice in my head said. Kick him again or he’ll kill you. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

    Running away seemed the next best option. I didn’t want my pants to fall down though, so as I turned and put one foot ahead of the other, I fumbled with my
    zipper. The world spun around me, the dark brick walls and littered alleyway zoomed in and out—I believe taking a leak of orgasmic proportions serves as a boost to intoxication. A buzz-enhancer, if you will.

    Struggling to button my pants and run at the same time proved more difficult than I had in mind. I kicked myself in the foot and flew forward toward the ground. My elbows cracked the gravel road and I skid on my cheek for what seemed longer than it probably was. While the pain wouldn’t set in until the next day—for that I was certain—my breath had run short and I lay on the ground panting, gasping, bleeding. Then the bum was upon me.

    • Margaret Terry

      wow, great stuff for a practice with that first sentence! Proof that if we sit in the chair long enough with desire to write, a story will announce itself. This has tons of energy, a fast paced, exciting read. I was almost out of breath by the time I finished. Nice job.

    • Karl Tobar

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words. 🙂

  14. Dan Erickson

    I do a variety of writing. I may take breaks from book projects, but I always write, most daily. I write blog posts, songs, poems, comments, and more. I know from experience that I’ll get the big projects done in time, so I don’t sweat it when I don’t feel like writing. I just work on another form.

  15. carol

    I ignored this email all day because I knew at the end there would be a writing ‘assignment’ and I didn’t feel like writing. I wanted to write, I just didn’t feel like it. I stayed up too late last night and now I’m tired. I ate too much sugary junk food and I have a sugar buzz, which i know will lead to a sugar crash and a headache. I can’t write after a sugar rush. So I wasted my whole night browsing through Pinterest. Before i knew it, it was midnight and I hadn’t written a thing all night. Why did I waste so much time on Pinterest? Or was it really wasted time? It made me smile and laugh.It relaxed me and got my creative juices flowing. It almost made me cry at one point. Those sad picture stories. When my back started to ache from being scrunched on the couch I decided it must be time to go to bed. First I had to check my email. There it was. Still there, staring at me. An email from The Write Practice. Fine! I’ll open it up and read it and write before I go to bed. I hope you’re happy! Tomorrow I’m going to be tired again.

  16. Martygav

    I know this will sound like one big…duh…but here is my trick…..

    Just show up.

    I have found that it’s easy to avoid writing but if I physically show up, putt ass in chair, that’s more than half the battle, to get going. If I just think about it or talk or whine about it, it’s real easy to continue to not do it.

    I also will tell myself just do a half hour, an hour, etc…so I basically LIE to myself…lol.

  17. Katmandu

    I had given up writing, thinking that if it was so difficult to write maybe I wasn’t meant to be writing. This article changed my mind. Thank you.

    • Joe Bunting

      Wow! That makes my day.

  18. GraceBlaze

    First time commenting! Hope you like this—

    I took a deep breath, examining his wound. I was never a doctor; I had always been hopeless when someone was sick, never knowing what to do no matter how many times it had been explained to me. Alyec’s problem was beyond any sort of healthcare knowledge I could possibly muster up. Nobody had ever taught me how to take care of a boy with a knife in his stomach.

    Did that mean Alyec would die?

    No, I told myself. The best I could do at the moment was to improvise. Biting my lip in obvious nervousness, I grabbed the hilt of the dagger and pulled up. He yelled as I did so, and it took all my strength to not react to his pain. The weapon was out in a matter of seconds, and I kept it near me so as to get a better look at it later.

    “What exactly are you doing?” Alyec moaned, his eyes closed.

    I sighed. “Good question. Just stay still, and be as quiet as possible; we don’t want that Jevlin guy coming back.” I absolutely refused to look at him. If I did, I would lose any power left in me and I would break down at the sight of his pained expression. It would kill me, along with him.

    It’s horrible watching your best friend die and knowing you can’t do anything about it.

    • gem

      Good job at capturing the emotion going on, in just a short passage you capture the desperation and determination happening. If you write more of the story I’d be very interested in reading it.
      I don’t know if the following critique is one that would help or not, but here it is in case it is helpful: As far as medical advice goes, I had always heard to NOT pull out a blade (or other large impaling objects) from a wound near internal organs. Pulling it out causes the injured person to bleed to death faster. I don’t know though if you were going to cause Alyec to die anyway, or if it’s a fantasy story with other “sciences” (magic) involved or something. But if it’s just a straight up normal fiction story where Alyec survives, you might want to leave the dagger in until they get somewhere with someone with medical knowledge.

  19. Jane G

    Great advice. Tip #5 really resonates. Thanks.


    Taking a deep breathe now… 🙂

  21. Matt Roberts

    I’ve read authors say that they often don’t feel like writing, but force themselves to anyway. The writing feels terrible, and is a slow and tortuous experience. Writing like that is horrid, largely because you feel like you’re writing crap! But the moral of the story is, when you come back to it in a month’s time, you can’t tell what was the “good” writing and what was the “bad”.

    And even if you only managed 200 words, it’s still 200 more than you had at the beginning of the day – it all adds up!

    So that’s what I tell myself, and I allow myself to only write for 15 minutes if I really hate it. That was a tip I learned listening to the Mighty Mur Lafferty! I say to myself – I only have to write for 15 mins, and I inevitably write for longer anyway!

    • Susan Anderson

      I learned from a lady online who boosts tired mothers that you can do anything for 15 minutes. I guess that goes for writing too.

    • A W

      Completely agree! Sometimes we’re tired, moody or down and I think that can influence how we perceive our writing but like you said, in a month’s time we won’t recognize the good from the bad. We’ll probably edit or cut some of it out anyway. Every little bit helps. I learned a similar lesson like this but with NaNoWrimo. That’s exactly what they tell us in the pep talks, to just write everyday, even if it’s 1,000 words or 500 words.

  22. SteinFussel

    my free writing today (the only thing that works at the moment): Are you sure you know what you want?
    What is it that you expect of your life? Are you still on your way?
    The way you consider your very own? There are many ways and paths you
    can choose in life. What will be yours? How often have you had to
    recalibrate your goals and dreams? Totally unofcussed is a nice thing
    frome time to time alathough sovietey expects you to have a plan at
    any moment. Work your way up in a very specific way, never gice up
    and always keep your goal fixed in sight. But you cannot explore new
    regions whan you keep going down sstreets that others have walked and
    maybe even paved before. If you want something unique and special you
    gotta go new ways. To boldly go where no man has gone before.

    I want to do something unique in my
    life. I want to be great. My idols and heroes are great people that
    achieved big things and are still remembered in awe. Albert Einstein.
    Friedrich Gauß. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Thomas A. Eddison. People
    who changed the world. I want to change the world. I want to be
    remembered in greatness. But which direction should I choose? Music?
    Should I keep up with my violin or piano practices? Singing? Should I
    keep on writing? Who could possibly care for my stories and the
    things i think i might have to tell?

    I am confused. Why am I here? And where
    would I go?

  23. SteinFussel

    Never again a night like
    this! Never again i want to taste the taste of failure and raw flesh.
    The wound is stil fresh and hurting like hell. These eyes. These
    needle sharp eyes that pierced me and seemed to cut open my very
    soul. I never want to see them again.

    The rain is falling evenly
    from the morning sky. My coat is soaked and i seem to be the only
    person in this whole damn city. No taxis pass me. No other car nor
    people are here. I embrace the solitude for a moment, then start to
    curse. What the hell happened last night? Is there another way that i
    could go? Like, going home? Home. Thats the only place to be right
    now. Home. The only place i cannot go. Ever. Again. They will be
    waiting for me there. They will slice me up and just laugh at me. Is
    there anything or anyone that is not hunting me right now?

    I stop. Turn around. Watch
    out. Harder. From all directions out of the grey foggy rain i see
    them. Hundrets of ruby red eyes focused on me. No matter where i
    turn, they are there. Watching me. Following me like a nightmare.
    What are they waiting for? Why dont they come out and finish me right

    Suddenly there is an
    explosion inside my head. My eyes go dark and I see stars circling
    something shiny. The pavement feels cold and wet on my cheeks.
    Something starts fumbling on my clothes. I am being dragged. After
    that I wish I would never have woken up again. The nightmare was only
    about to start.

  24. RDuncan

    I was fortunate to be friends with the late George Furth. Whilst visiting Los Angeles I had been a guest in his home. During morning coffee George apologized and suddenly left the table. In a rather hurried walk he explained how he goes to sit in his office to write for four hours from 8 am till noontime, whether something flows from his pen or not.

  25. Annie Liu

    Can you read my story on WattPad? My username is “TomatoQueen”. Please tell me in the comments if it’s good. Here’s the blurb and some of chapter 1.

    Avalon has always been friends with Brittany. But ever since second grade, she’s been categorized as The Loser of the school – due to emotions problems from her father dying and her mother being an alcoholic – while her best friend is the captain of the school’s cheerleading team. And to top that off with a sour tomato on top, she’s also the most popular girl. They decide to have a sleepover one Friday night and Avalon finds out many things. And one of the things she learns is that both of them have the same crush: Damon. When Brittany decides to throw a party that Friday, Damon and his brother attend, along with everyone in the cheerleading team. Can a simple game of “Seven Minutes in Heaven” change everything, even their friendship? Please comment and vote. This is my first finished story and I hope for it to become published. Please spread the news and tell your friends! Thanks a bunch of tomatoes! And of course, don’t forget to eat tomatoes! 🙂

    Story ( chapter 1 ):
    “Avalon, we haven’t had a sleepover in such a long time,” I hear my best friend’s usual perky voice say. “Wanna have one this weekend?”

    “Sure,” I reply automatically; the second my best friend, Brittany finishes talking.

    “Wait,” she says, frowning. “Don’t you have to tell your mom?”

    I roll my eyes. “She’s not going to care. Beer is much more important to her than her own daughter.”

    “Just call her,” Brittany pesters me.

    “Fine,” I say, surrendering. Grabbing my black iPhone 4s, the one I bought with the money I earned, I dial my alcohol-addicted mother.

    After 5 rings, I wonder if it is necessary to call her, but she picks up on the next ring. Right off, I can tell she is drunk when her voice comes out slurred. “He…hello,” she says, before giggling for no reason.

    I want to get off the phone as quickly as possible, so I get right to the point. “Mom, I’m gonna go to Brittany’s for a sleepover.”

    My mom giggles out of nowhere. “Who’s Brittany? Is she Lucash?”

    I sigh and slowly, like I am talking to a baby, I explain, “No, Brittany is not my dad. Lucas is your husband. He died when I was in second grade. Brittany is my best friend.”

  26. RazelDeath

    great post

  27. Jill-Ayn

    I have this inner child who crosses her arms, stomps her foot and says, “I don’t feel like writing today.” Then I have to ask, “Who’s in charge here, you or me?” Sometimes I even win the battle. LOL!

  28. Anika

    Before you start reading, i just want to let you know, that english is not my first language, so if i got something wrong, please be gentle. I also might add that i did not correct this, so bad grammar might occur.

    I find myself yet again, with my hands on my phone, scrolling through my instagram. My eyes are searching for something i don’t really know what is. The pictures slide past my sight, on high speed, my thumb just keeps scrolling and scrolling. I know what will happen if i stop, even if i just slow down a little. Why do i keep doing this to myself? That’s the big question, and i’m still unable to answer it. I realize i’ve forgot to blink, so i do so. Am i really that scared to miss something, that i can’t even blink? Apparently i am. I don’t even like the pictures, i just quickly look at them before scrolling past. They would know that i’ve been looking again if i like stuff, so i just stay silent because i don’t want them to know. I don’t know how long i’ve been online, maybe an hour? Maybe two? In this universe it’s so easy to get caught up, and when you do, time just flies by. They say i’m addicted, but i just can’t believe that. I make the mistake of being distracted by my own thoughts, so that my finger comes to a rest. The picture jumps at me, and when i see it i know that it’s gonna start over, just like it always does. The thoughts, the little stupid monster screaming from inside, that i can do better. Better than what? I tend to scream back, when it all just gets too much. A pretty and skinny girl smiles at me, or at the camera that shot the picture. Why is it that i’m always noticing the stuff that doesn’t really matter first? Why can’t i look at her smile and think; wow she looks happy, or; she’s probably really sweet? It just scares me, because if i can’t think that way about others, how is anyone ever gonna think that way about me? I look closer at the picture and notice her perfect hair, perfect body, perfect clothes, just perfect everything. And then i look at me. I’m definitely not seeing anything perfect. I only know i got brains. That’s probably why i’m still here and not in a nuthouse, sharing a room with another crazy person, i’m too smart to let anyone know the struggle i go through. There was one time though, when i wasn’t being careful enough, and my mom caught me throwing up. It’s not even like a thing i do, i just wanted to try it, to see if it made me feel any better. Well it didn’t.

  29. Sandi Guse

    Love writing when it flows, hate it when I struggle, really hate it when I have to edit !!

  30. Phyllis Wilhelm

    I remember when my husband tried to make me stop writing. He threatened to divorce me, and take my babies with him. He said he’d have my own sister, who he’d testified for in court. Camille owed him his freedom, and had agreed to testify that she had seen me abusing my eldest daughter. She had fallen down stairs, and I feared she had a concussion, and had taken her to the doctor.

    The thought of Camille still makes my blood boil. I am not angry that she lied–she had always been a pathological liar–but because of the day I walked in on them, in my own bed.

    I remember the expression on my husband’s face when he died. The blood poured from his chest like hot honey, and then he dropped, soiling himself.

    When I was finally released several years later, I immediately resumed writing again. It was difficult, but I forced myself into deadlines.

    I am glad he is gone.

  31. Jennifer Marshburn

    Yea, okay. This might be good advice, as I have not wanted to write for a few days now, but thanks to this practice I just sat down and did it, and I think this is better than anything I’ve written in about a month. Thanks!!

    The walk into work seems so much longer and more dreadful when the enjoyment of the job has disappeared. Traveling less than a hundred feet from car to front door seems to take hours, and with each step the shoulders feel a little heavier, the back increases a weighted curve, and the muscles around the forehead tighten and tighten and tighten again. It’s autumn, but there is the feeling that even on the brightest spring day, the atmosphere would still be blanketed in somewhat of a gray chiffon and a chill would hover around the body like a cold plastic shield. It’s not a sense of dread or doom. There is no fear of missed deadlines, or disciplinary action, or a lecture from the boss. It’s just the simple knowledge that this job is no longer the fulfilling career that it once was. A far cry from all the terrible traumas a woman could experience to set off a spiraling dissent into depression, but so much of one’s identity is connected to career that it almost seems sensible for stagnation to be the cause of such hopelessness. And everyday, between waking and lying down to sleep, comes the thought to just quit and eliminate the one thing that seems to be ruining every other facet of life, but immediately following that thought is the value of a paycheck, the ability to go somewhere everyday, to be a part of a community of people – many of whom often suffer the same frustration. Suck it up, and get into the office.

  32. Susan Anderson

    I love the image you posted with this booster shot article. I have some gloves like these that I wear in our cold dank warehouse. We call our shipping room Bob Cratchit’s corner and my gloves are my Cratchit gloves. The kind that help you work when you have to. You can always type with these gloves, always open a box, fill a box, tape a box. The customers need their stuff, and especially around Christmas time. I sure wouldn’t want to disappoint a little one. (We sell toys.) You had me with the image. Even the weathered, split, a bit ‘dirty’ fingernails make your point. The dishes have to be done. The bills have to be paid. The garbage needs to be thrown out. Do we ever “feel” like tending these tasks? I must admit, I’ve gone awhile without writing. I’m busy with teenagers, a disabled son, and an elderly parent and I am her caregiver. Essentially, I “feel” like the inside of a sandwich. Am I the cheese? No, because to be the cheese, you have to wield power, and I have very little of that. Am I the meat? No, because to be the meat, one is the substance, and I don’t always “feel” substantive. Mayo? Tomato? Nah. I’d say I’m peanut butter; squished into every cell of the bread. Like glue. Without me, there is no sandwich. Only beginnings, only ends. Without the middle, the beginnings and the ends don’t come together. And there my friend is my practice for today.

  33. A W

    These are great tips. I find taking a walk and stepping away from my work is the best remedy, most of the time. Sometimes I give myself the time I need to distance myself from writing. Other times I do write even if I don’t feel like it and I’m always glad I did push myself to write because that’s often how I end up writing again. I think if you see it as a hobby it’s okay to write whenever you feel like it but if you have goals of publishing, I think you have to be a little more disciplined and treat it like a job.

  34. Gabriela

    Writing is strange. A few days ago, I was writing nonstop. I barely ate and never took breaks. I wrote so so much–I personally call it the ‘flow state’. And then, the dayes after I was just planning. And now, for some reason, I don’t feel like writing I feel like it’s a waste of time and that my story sucks and I have no idea how to structure my plot. But, here is my writing for fifteen minutes:
    People called the boy weird. He preffered the term ‘eccentric’ and ‘unique’.
    He had moved to different schools 4 times in the last two years, and barely had time to get used to settling and making friends. No wonder he was strange.
    But, it ran so much deeper than that. A secret was hidden within him. A secret bigger than himself.

    One day, the boy was eating a roasted fish on a stick, his legs dangling over his seat at the lunch table (as he was rather small)
    “Mickey?” the red neck boy said in his accent. “Like Mickey Mouse?”
    The small boy nodded, taking amother bite of salted fish.
    The boy wrinkled his nose. “Ew. I hate fish. Well, Mickey, how did you get your name? Is it because you like Mickey mouse? I never heard of it ever in my entire life time.”
    The boy took a long time to finish chewing on his food. Then, he said for the first time, “No.”
    He didn’t say much. But that was how he was. He and the boy were the only ones sitting on the far table in the cafeteria. Perhaps because they were outcasts, nobodies.
    But Mickey smiled. He had made a friend.

    The red head was named Charlie. Charlie, who said that he was from Virginia, looked way out of place in the beachy California elementary school. So did Mickey. He had pale skin, and dark, uneven hair that stuck out on certain places. His eyes were an innocent dark brown, and the one thing he never did was tell his friends of his whereabouts. Regardless, Charlie and Mickey were great friends.
    The next day they sat at the table, Charlie couldn’t help but peering out on the Middle Table–after all, that’s what he called it–and look at all his popular classmates–Brenda, Sandy, Ricky, Aiden, Derek, and countless others. Goofy laughs and jokes could be h–oh my 15 minutes are over. This actually helped so much lol now I feel like writing and all it took was getting started.

  35. Anh Nguyen


    I keep coming back to your post whenever I have a hard time writing. Your words on how this is the ugly middle motivates to to keep going to reach my breakthrough. Rationally, i know that I am so close to making this work yet my motivation is off the door.

    Right not the techniques that works best for me is no.3 and 5, alternately. I keep up a healthy 1 hour writing schedule so I would show up everyday to do my job, I’d grieve if necessary, go for a walk later if necessary, but I always show up.

    Thanks for sharing!


  36. Anh Nguyen

    Joe, I’m not sure if I’ve commented on this post before or not. What I do know is that I’ve come back to it a dozen times already.

    Each time, I was in a different shade of stuck.

    This time. I am blue. I still write, in fact, I write everyday. But at the same time, I fear I cannot keep doing my best if I keep going like this. What if I ended up exhausted, drained of all fuels to go for another round?

    As always though, your words motivate me.

    “Creativity, like birth, is always difficult. But the fruit is worth it.”

    That one get me every time.

    I will write to express and communicate, if that includes my grieving then fine. I will grieve and I will write.

    For today, I think that will work.

    Thanks for sharing.


  37. Rishie Chandan

    Please comment if I am any good.

    After a 20 min walk, the two friends reached the The Panorama Garden.
    ” Is this the place you told me about ?”.
    ” Why is it called The Panorama ?”
    ” Well, this is the biggest garden in the state”.
    The place was quite deserted. Everything was silent except for the rustling of leaves. The big, wide trees made it hard for the sunlight to break in. The darkness and the silence made the place intimidating. They roamed around quietly until one of them said..
    ” You know what this is place is perfect for ?”
    ” What?”
    ” Hide and seek” he said.
    They still had an hour before they went home and couldn’t find a reason not to play a game.
    One of them stood before a large tree and started counting numbers while the other disappeared into the darkness.
    He counted a hundred and shouted ” Ready or not, here i come ”.
    He turn around and started walking. It was getting dark. He couldn’t see his friend anywhere.
    After 15 min, he reached a point where a board said ” Don’t get any further. Restricted area”.
    He was starting to get annoyed. He shouted ” Hey, where are you ? ”. Bugs buzzing was the only reply he got.
    Then, he stepped on something gluey. He groaned and bent to see what it was. It was blood. He looked around but couldn’t find any sign of his friend. He was sure that something happened to him. It might have been an animal or what if it was a murderer ? Is it his blood or could it have been some animal’s ? He panicked.
    He got out of the garden and ran to the nearest police station.
    ” At time did you say you came here ?”, asked the police curiously.
    ” 6 o’ clock, sir”.
    ” Was there anyone else ?”

    The police checked the entire garden only to find nothing. There was no sign of him at all.
    ” Are you sure you came with your friend at all ? ”
    The boy answered all the questions feebly. He friend was never found.

    After 5 months, he came back to the place.
    ” Yes, mom. I will back by dinner”. He cut the phone and gazed at the garden thinking about his missing friend.
    He felt a small vibration in his pocket. He received a message. It read..
    ” Why is it taking you so long to find me ?”
    The boy drops the phone in terror.


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