Why You’re Not Writing

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Sometimes after people learn I’m a writer, they confess to me in private they have a book inside them. They dream about it and long to make that happen.

Why You're Not Writing

I know others who talk a lot about writing. They post writerly quotes on social media, links to publishing articles and always know the latest industry buzz. Another set are voracious readers; they can discuss a variety of cool topics or brainstorm story ideas. They love the whole literary scene.

What all these folks share in common is…

They’re not writing.

What Not Writing Looks Like

Talking about writing is not writing.

Reading is not writing.

Outlining is not writing.

Okay the last one is, but not excessively so. Writers write.

Stop talking. Start doing.

Time will Tell

We all have the same twenty-four hours. Dreaming of writing is easy. Making yourself sit down and do it, is not.

“How you spend your time is how you spend your life.” I love this quote by Carol Lloyd, author of Creating a Life Worth Living. The book is several years old (1997) both still full of applicable advice on how strike a balance between a creative life, as well as life with sanity, happiness and financial solvency. Lloyd offers down-to-earth solutions and concrete tasks for achieving these goals.

There’s nothing mystical or magical about writing. It’s work — hard work.

However, most of us could scrounge up 15 minutes each day to write. Maybe more with practice.

How to Steal Time to Write

Here are a few suggestions to help you squeeze out more time for the page:

*Cut back on social media or ditch it altogether — why build a platform when you’re not creating anything for others to read?

*Write first thing in the morning, or late at night — I love this Write Practice guest post on the topic: The Ideal Schedule to Become a More Productive Writer.

*Form an accountability group — there’s something powerful when you tell others, “I’m gonna do this,” then do it.

*Write during your lunch hour or coffee breaks — John Grisham wrote during his courtroom breaks, and he’s done okay (275 millions books sold).

*Write on the weekends, or on your day off — being a weekend novelist is better than none at all.

*Write, even when you cannot write — while you’re stuck in traffic, or folding laundry…think about how solve plotting problems, ideas for blog posts, agents to query.

*Carry a notebook with you wherever you go — jot down notes or plot out scenes. Many phones have a voice recorder for ideas or writing To Do's. Use what you have, wherever you are.

*Write in spurts — don’t think you must have two hours of uninterrupted time. Steal five minutes here and there. It all adds up.

Why Don’t You Write?

When I explain to these wannabe writers there’s nothing extra special about me. I wanted to write more than anything else, so I made it a priority. I started writing. I ask them, “Why don’t you write?”

Many tell me about their scheduling conflicts and other problems. Some of them are quite legitimate, while others are just excuses.

The truth of why most of you don’t write as much as you want (or at all) is you’re afraid.

You worry your work isn’t good enough. You think no one will ever want to read what you wrote. You’re afraid of success or failure, or both.

Yeah, me, too. Join the club. Fear is the #1 enemy of writers and masks itself in a variety of ways: doubt, perfectionism, procrastination, self-sabotage, etc.

4 Writing Facts

I hope these four truths help you see the reality of writing and encourage you to make more time for your craft:

  1. In the beginning, you may not be very good. It's normal.
  2. If you practice, you will get better.
  3. Regardless of #2, you will still get rejected. You’ll survive. You don’t think so, but you will.
  4. If you stick with writing and persevere despite doubt and rejections, you will achieve some form of success.

Will it be publication?

I don’t know what the future holds for you, but I do know writers have more options available to you than ever before. It's exciting.

All this comes down to one simple question:

How important is your writing to you?

Don’t tell me the answer. Show me. It’s the WHY you do or do not write.

Because how you spend your time is how you spend your life.

How do you use or abuse time to write? Think about it and let us know in the comments section.


For fifteen minutes, write a scene with a person struggling to be any kind of creative (writer, painter, dancer, entrepreneur, etc.).

When your time is up, share your practice in the comments section. And if you share, please be sure to give feedback to your fellow writers.

Happy writing!

This article is by a guest blogger. Would you like to write for The Write Practice? Check out our guest post guidelines.

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  1. Gary G Little

    ARRGGHHH!! Here I sit, mushy keys on keyboard and blinking cursor.

    “So write something,” I yell behind my eyeballs!

    “Yes,” says the muse, “Write something. Write anything. Feel the groove and just write. Let the words flow. Write about the traffic outside. Write about the current crowd here in Barnes and Noble. This is your writing place. So write, Gary, write. Write about taking Lola for her walk this morning. How she didn’t like the damp, didn’t like wet grass. Write how she gave you that “this is icky” look and stayed on the side walk. Write Gary, Write long. Write tall. Write small. Just write!!.”

    “Ha, that fool,” scoffs the anti-muse? “He’s too stupid to write. No one wants to read what that fat old geezer writes. Groove? For him that’s just an endless rut going around a record player. Boop! Boop! Boop! Hear that? Thats the sound of his stupidity beating against his skull”

    “Oh shutup the both of you,” I say, and finally press Submit.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Thanks for the smile, Gary. Some would say that poor fellow is schizophrenic, but we know better.

      He’s a writer. 🙂

      My favorite part of your piece? The anti-muse. That’s EXCELLENT and I’m officially adding it to my vocabulary!

    • Krithika Rangarajan

      “Stupidity beating against his skull” – #ROFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL hahahahahahaha

      LOVEEEEED this <3

      #HUGSS Gary – wait, have you hidden a camera in my home? Because this is me…

    • 709writer

      I love your closing line, “Oh shutup, the both of you”. Sometimes we just have to silence those voices in our head! Thanks for sharing. : )

    • Cindy

      Very vividly written Gary – mushy keys brings into play what the blinking cursor doesn’t already shout. Had to smile…even though I feel your frustration! 🙂

    • ruth

      H,i Gary. I always appreciate your posts and your stories. We all identify with your struggle, but believe me you’re not” too stupid to write.” Keep at it, post, submit and try again. Someone out there will hear your voice.
      By the way, thanks for your feedback on the story “The Last Inning”. I could not find a way to get back to it to thank you for your comments and your time. Your thoughts are appreciated!

    • maya c

      Love the mushy keys and the line “Write long. Write tall. Write small. Just write!!” You have so perfectly captured the discrepancy between how easy it SHOULD be to write and how hard it ACTUALLY is. Thanks for sharing!

    • M.FlynnFollen

      A nice short look into your inner dialog that we can all relate to.

    • Jacob Jarecki

      I like the record player quip, great imagery, especially when you tie it to the sound of stupidity!

    • Thomas Furmato

      Keep it up. I enjoyed your thoughts.

  2. Orson

    It would be helpful to know why I can’t return to writing I posted so as to reply to inquires and comments on my work. Feedback is essential for growing writers and so is the capacity to communicate. I haven’t received any word as to why the page no longer exists after receiving an e-mail message from a reader/writer about material I’ve written. If a Write Practice Keymaster is reading this, please lend your assistance if possible. To the Write Practice Participants, has this ever happened to you?

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      I am not TWP Keymaster, but I apologize that this is happening. I’ll pass it on to the powers that be. Thanks for your patience.

  3. Krithika Rangarajan

    “A Marcy a Day Keeps the Anti-Muse Away” – ha, see how I combined Gary’s comment and YOUR brilliance, Ms Mckay? 😛

    Your every article brings a BIGGGGGGGGGG goofy smile onto my face – Muaaaaahhhhhhhh

    Thank you, lovely lady. I ENJOYED the whole article, but the ending blew away my mind! 😀



    • 709writer

      Love your combination line. : )

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      HA, Kitto. Your sentiment is both fabulous and frightening on soooo many levels. Glad to make you smile. Write on, sister.

  4. Krithika Rangarajan

    “I know others who talk a lot about writing. They post writerly quotes on social media, links to publishing articles and always know the latest industry buzz. Another set are voracious readers; they can discuss a variety of cool topics or brainstorm story ideas. They love the whole literary scene.”

    SHEEPISH KITTO *grinning*

    I write every day – for others. I have two huge projects within me. I might have to get up at 4 am though.

    What the heck, let’s do it 😉

    • Phil Turner

      Do it or you will regret it – I only realised that I HAD to write my story in the past few weeks. I’m 62. All those wasted years toeing the party line when I should’ve been writing MY story.

    • Gary G Little

      Ugh. Been there met them. “They” are the ones that ALWAYS have to make a comment or have a question when at the end of a meeting you get down to the “Any questions?” “They” are also the ones that break out Strunk and White and post it PUBLICLY when you’ve made a blog post and tell your friends list about it and ask them for any comments they might have. Why do “They” always have to try to one up us?!?!

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Don’t forsake sleep, Kitto. I learned the hard way that I could accomplish more in 1.5 hours with a full night’s rest, than writing from 4-7 am (3 hours) running on empty.

      Honor yourself. Yeah, you’ve got to write for others to pay the bills, but write what is YOU. Let me bad, then keep at it until you like it, then love it.

      I hope you DO IT!

  5. Phil Turner

    I hesitate to reply on a blog post that demands 15 minutes of writing on a topic that is not immediately relevant to me. Then I realise that I have started. After all we all need to practise writing – I know when I look back at what I wrote 6 months ago, let alone 4 years ago, that it reads dreadfully. Practise really does make (nearly) perfect.

    So the creative in my story is me. I am writing this as a stream of consciousness because I was not originally going to do it at all, except as a reply to your email rather than as a blog comment.

    What stops me writing? Thinking I have nothing to write, but then I look around and I have a lot more to write than most people who write online. I can write a better ebook than 90% of the ones I have on my Kindle app. I have the ideas, I have the story, yes it’ll need tidying up, but I am getting it down on the screen, which is the important thing.

    I only work under pressure, so this 15 minute deadline does the job foe me. Thanks for that.

    I find it easier to write recently because I have started to write an outline, also read few books from Pschotactics. Sean d’Souza is amazing as a writer’s inspiration, and I love his cartoons too, but am not going to go there. I find Sean’s methodology just breaks down the task at hand into manageable chunks. At the same time it gives it more impact and makes readers more likely to actually read it.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Wonderful, wonderful, Phil. I’m so proud of you that you weren’t going to comment, but you chose to after all! Plus, you have an important message for everyone here at TWP: breaking down your tasking (writing/blogging/querying/publishing/etc. into MANAGEABLE CHUNKS.

      That + practice are the secrets to success. Thank you!

    • Sean D

      Thanks Phil 🙂 I appreciate the note. Most people talk about writers not being able to write, or running into writer’s block (which is a complete myth, by the way). And the biggest problem is that most writing advice is simply not broken up into “consumable”, “workable” advice. The problem with how-to is that you have to understand what is how-not-to, before you explain how-to. I’m doing a podcast on that very thing today at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/three-month-vacation-podcast/id946996410?mt=2

  6. Babbitt

    Thanks for the post! I used to have all kinds of excuses about why I didn’t have time to write even though I felt my soul breaking in two from not writing. I now keep a writing journal and update it daily. I also keep track of my time in the journal, so I can challenge myself to write more each day. Plus, it’s a great way for me to keep track of the progress I’ve made, the challenges I’ve overcome, and the positive feedback I’ve received.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Awesome, Babbit. You could be the poster child for progress. I keep track of my time, too, so loved that you shared that tip. Thanks and keep up the great work!

  7. William_Drop_Dead_Money

    “Billy! I have great news!” Clara Durant beamed.

    “Oh, Clara, I have some great news, too!” her husband beamed back, as he picked her up and twirled her around. “But you go first.”

    “Billy, I’m pregnant!”

    “Ohhh, that is wonderful darling! What do you think it will be? How are you? When is it due? Are you okay?” The words tumbled out of the normally quiet and soft-spoken Billy in flurrious profusion.

    “Yes, yes, Dr. Edwin says I’m just fine.”

    “Edwin knew this and he didn’t tell me?”

    “Well, dear, you were on your way to the Water Works meeting when he found out.”

    “Oh that’s right. Which reminds me.”

    “Reminds you of that?”

    “My big news.”

    “Oh, that’s right. I was so excited about our baby, I forgot. What is it?”

    “Darling, I am going to change the way America travels!”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “I was on my way to meeting this afternoon. I ran into Dallas at the hardware store and, well, I couldn’t just ignore him, you know. So we said hi and talked for a minute or two. Right then young Johnny Alger stopped by and showed his new buggy. We couldn’t shut him up, so we listened as he explained how wonderful the ride was.

    “Well, time passed and next thing you know I was going to be late. Johnny offered me a ride, and you know what? He is right — that little thing rides like a dream. It has this unusual suspension, you hardly feel the road!”

    “Billy… is that it? Your big news is you were on time because Johnny gave you a ride on a new buggy?”

    Billy laughed. “No, no, dear. That’s not the news. The news is tomorrow I’m going to…

    You will have to wait to find out what Billy’s big news was, because my fifteen minutes are up. 🙂

    • Gary G Little

      Well, I’ve read lots of excuses to NOT write, but this is the first time I’ve seen excuse to not finish writing. Nice story, really, but do we get to find out what Billy is going to do tomorrow? 🙂

      Picky stuff:

      “I was on my way to meeting this afternoon.”

      You need to add an article, definite the or indefinite a before meeting.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Sneaky one, you are William! A cliff hanger. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to learning Billy’s big news! 🙂

    • Anna Lauren

      If I knew where you were, I’d take my walking stick to you, Master William.

  8. Cindy

    Chloe stared at the blank screen. The blinking of the cursor only made her think
    of the Jeopardy tune, which only made matters worse – the pressure! It shouldn’t be this hard, therefore it had
    to be in her head, or maybe, in reality she didn’t have enough creativity in
    her head to write. Maybe if she did a
    little “pinning” on Pinterest it would take her mind off things, and of course,
    she would get right back to her story.

    She sat her timer for 15 minutes to play on Pinterest and,
    honestly, only restarted it twice before she returned back to the blank screen
    and the blinking cursor – damn, still no creative juices flowing. The dryer buzzer went off signaling the end
    of its cycle. Maybe if she got up and
    folded the laundry – that would give her time to free up her writer’s block.

    Clothes folded and put away, Chloe sauntered past her office
    door without glancing into the room. She
    would ignore it for now. Maybe a nice
    long walk would pick her energy level up and get her mind to cranking. It was a gorgeous sunny day as she took off
    on her 2 mile walk with her music blaring in her ears. This had to be the ticket.

    Five hours later, one excuse after the other, she turned the
    lights off throughout the house, set the security system and ended the day by
    crawling into bed to read a book written by someone else, who obviously did not
    have the dreaded blinking cursor disease.

    • 709writer

      “Dreaded blinking cursor disease”–thanks for the smile! It can be really hard to write when we let ourselves get distracted by other things. Don’t feel bad because I do the exact same thing (except one of mine is playing video games instead of writing : ) ). Thanks for sharing. : )

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      So realistic, Cindy! Nice work. The only thing I would add is that the difference between Chloe and the author whose book she read that night is bed is that they did not let the dreaded blinking cursor disease stop them. They got something on the page…they were probably disappointed, but they rewrote and revised and edited until they came out with something of which they were proud.

      Dreaded blinking cursor diseases is brilliant, btw.

      • Cindy

        Thank you so much Marcy. Being stubborn and writing does not go well together. The more I tell myself that I need to sit down and write, the more excuses I come up with. So funny how a little thing like rejection can knock you off of your path of well intentions. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to post your words of wisdom to us all!

        • Marcy Mason McKay

          Actually, I’m going to respectfully disagree with you here. Being stubborn and writing is VERY GOOD. In fact, it’s essential to survive. To stay persistent and believe in yourself…despite criticism, rejections, procrastination and all sorts of other sabotage from ourselves and others.

          Good luck to you! Stay stubborn, but still write! 🙂

  9. Stephanie Sanchez

    My head feels tired. Gonna take a nap. Wait, I was supposed to start writing? I’ll get to it later. I didn’t write that poem for the PAD today, or yesterday, opps I forgot it over the weekend too. So, it’s NaNoWriMo (Camp Summer), I forgot to write and post, falling behind again. Didn’t have time to do daily “data dump” today or yesterday? Did I read anything, oh, yeah, yesterday. I wrote yesterday, wait that was a to do list. Music helps me be creative. Yep really feeling this beat, and the next and the next. I forgot to write started singing and dancing. ADD ’cause my H left when I got old (no more ADHD). Did I feed the animals and collect the eggs? Is supper ready and homework done? I have to read for my assignment. My head feels tired. Gonna take a nap. Wait, I was supposed to start writing? I’ll get to it later, maybe. Was that 15 minutes? I lost count. Tomorrow’s a new day. ~ Stephanie

    • Cindy

      Nice! Tomorrow is a new day Stephanie! Love the line about ADD “my H left when I got old”!

    • 709writer

      Love the spontaneous-ness of this! We all have responsibilities and pressures that can keep us from writing as much as we’d like to. I encourage you to keep writing, whenever you can find time, even if it’s just a sentence a day! Thanks for sharing. : )

  10. 709writer

    Eliza stood just outside the spongy blue and red ring, waiting to perform her bow staff kata (form) for the five judges. She didn’t even notice the female martial artist currently showing the judges her kata.

    Instead she had chosen a spot on the tiled gym floor and stared at it, unmoving, just as her master had always instructed her to do at a karate tournament. Her gut tied itself into knots. She might make a mistake. She might let her master down.

    For a moment she listened to the world around her. The martial artist in the ring shouted occasional battle cries with her technique. Someone in the crowded bleachers yelled encouragement.

    Eliza’s heart hammered against her ribs. There were so many people. So many distractions that could break her focus during her kata. Beads of sweat broke out on her forehead.

    Something her master had told her several weeks ago sprang to her mind. The words would never leave Eliza. They were words her master had spoken just after Eliza had passed a difficult belt rank test–the final test before black belt.

    “Whenever you get discouraged, don’t think about what you’re not,” her master had said, her seafoam blue eyes piercing Eliza. “Think about what you are.”

    Again, Eliza shut the world out, lasering that spot on the floor.

    The gymnasium erupted all at once as parents, siblings, and friends in the crowded bleachers cheered and clapped. The female martial artist who had just finished her kata bowed to the judges and stepped back, off of the blue and red mats.

    One of the judges spoke. “Eliza Wooding.”

    She looked up and ahead. Her body relaxed. Gripping the bow staff firmly at her side, she left her thoughts and feelings outside of the ring and marched forward to show the world what her karate was made of.

    I’d love some feedback/comments on this. Thanks! : )

    • Cindy

      Love the line about about getting discouraged and remembering what you are. You did a great job making me feel the tension Eliza felt…the pressure she was under to perform and also bringing home the fact that she would be letting others down besides herself. You finished nicely by resolving the tension and getting the job done. Nice job.

      • 709writer

        Thank you, Cindy. I appreciate that. : )

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      TERRIFIC! I loved that you chose a different kind of arts — martial arts. You really took me into the moment. My favorite part of all was the quote from Eliza’s master, “”Whenever you get discouraged, don’t think about what you’re not. Think about what you are.”

      Words to live by for us all! Thanks 709!

      • 709writer

        Aww, thank you Marcy! : )

  11. svford

    Gotta get the laundry done. Oh wait, I still need to make the bed, feed the dogs, fix breakfast for the hubby, wash dishes, clean a room, take a shower and get dressed, oh no it’s lunchtime already?! Get that done, clean up, ok, now I can write. Oh, I need to check e-mail, what’s the weather like? Oh, I have notices from F/B, gotta check those out NOW. Oops, dinner time, what to make? Ok, dinner made, dishes clean, dogs fed, NOW I can write. Oh, my goodness, it’s 9 PM already? Ok, I can write now the dogs and hubby are in bed. I’m so tired, maybe I can squeeze in some time tomorrow to write…is it morning yet? Yes, this is my process for not writing. My bad.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Awww yes, Svford. Procrastination. Some of these are real. The laundry, the dogs, dinner, dishes…they all must be attended to. Facebook is one of my downfalls and a fun, but at times, wasteful time suck.

      Thanks for showing it like it is. Marcy

    • Kiki Stamatiou

      A very nice piece of writing. This piece is also charming, and reminds me of something one might see in the comic strip Cathy. Overall, this is a great story. I know I can certainly relate to a busy schedule, what with helping my aunt taking care of my grandmother, who often keeps us up at night, due to her aches and pains, etc…even though we give her Tylenol to help with the pain. I often end up sleeping in later than I actually intended, because of exhaustion from being kept up by my elderly grandmother. I alternate between writing in the afternoon, and writing late in the evening. Sometimes, I feel alert enough to write during the morning hours, when I’m lucky enough to do so. However, most of the time lately, I don’t start my day until 12 p. m. or a little later. Then, during the early part of evening, my aunt likes to have me go out to run errands with herself and my grandmother, and also so my grandmother can get some fresh air. Believe me, when I say, I do understand where your character in the story is coming from. I’m sure we’ve all been in similar situations which takes us away from the things we most love to do.

      • svford

        Thanks, Kiki. 24 hours in a day sometimes just aren’t enough! I live for Tuesday and Thursday evenings when hubby is bowling and I can take my life and show it is funny, busy, and a quirk. Now if only I could find the time to flesh out some of these characters. Lol!

  12. Kiki Stamatiou

    The Struggles A Writer Must Endure
    By Kiki Stamatiou a. k. a. Joanna Maharis

    Dominica Moore sits at her computer staring at the screen, struggling to come up with a writing composition for a short story competition she wants so badly to enter. She’s only been sitting there for five minutes, when her Aunt Doris Feldman walks into the living room to ask for her help. “Dominica, I need you to come inside to help me transfer your grandmother from the bed to her wheelchair. I want to get her dressed so we can go out to run some errands.”

    “Can’t you see I’m trying to write. I can’t get any writing done when you keep interrupting me all of the time. My writing is very important to me. It’s just as much of a profession as anything else. The problem is that you people don’t respect it as such,” Dominica retaliates as she gets up from the sofa, smacking her hand against the wall in disgust, on her way into her grandmother’s bedroom.

    “Dominica, you don’t need to get huffy. It will only take five minutes of your time to help me transfer her,” Aunt Doris replied, while removing some things away so she and Dominica will be able to put Grandma Clara Feldman the wheelchair.

    “You do this every time I’m trying to either write in my journal or when I’m trying to compose a composition onto my computer. This needs to stop. It’s not right the way you people have little to no respect for what I do,” Dominica shouts while pushing her grandmother in the wheel chair.

    When she is finally able to sit down and write, Dominica is so stressed out. She decides to check her email messages to see if she has received a reply from a magazine she submitted one of her short stories to.

    Upon checking her messages, she sees a reply from the magazine. Opening it up, she feels nothing but disappointment after reading it, because her short story has been
    rejected. It’s not what the magazine is looking for, although the editor does encourage her to feel free to submit some more work to their publication in the future.

    However, Dominica plugs away. She searches her computer for some other stories she has written so she can submit them to other potential magazine publications. She can’t find any she is satisfied with, so she then researches other periodical publications to read up on the types of genres of stories they are looking for. None of her stories fit into those categories. She decides to brainstorm to come up with a character and theme to write about that would be better suited for the magazine she was rejected by.

    After brainstorming, she decides to time herself for fifteen minutes, and write whatever comes into her mind. She figures by doing some writing exercise to get some story ideas flowing more smoothly. Although she is still disappointed about getting rejected by the magazine, she writes additional stories, and tries the periodical again.

    © Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Thank you, Kiki. You wrote a BEAUTIFUL slice of real life. I love Dominica’s perseverance, despite lack of support from her family, rejections and other stressors. I need to be more like your character and appreciate you creating her for us.

      • Kiki Stamatiou

        Thank you so much, Marcy Mason McKay. I appreciate your kind words. I’m glad you liked the piece. When writing a given piece I try to do a mashup of elements taken from my life, the lives of others I know, and things going on in the media, to create unique personalities of the various characters I write about, and allow my readers to see life through the perspectives of my characters.

  13. ruth

    Just when my mind is blank for inspiration, I find a small notebook buried at the bottom of my purse. Inside are notes from a visit to a nursing home about five years ago. I had seen a gentleman who came to the dining room whistling as he pushed his walker. He whistled waiting for his lunch to come. The server stated with a smile, “He’s our entertainment for today.” He took a bite of lunch, then he whistled. Took another bite, then whistled. When he was finished, he whistled some more, then stood and whistled as he left the dining room. There was a smile on every face in the room. Just an every day scene in the nursing home, but surely worth a story of his own. Keep a notebook. You never know when it might create a story.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Lovely, Ruth and so true. Wonderful stories are happening all around us, but we must be aware enough to catch them and write the down before we lose the moment.
      Thanks for sharing.

  14. maya c

    She stared at the canvas. It stared back. This was now the
    fifth day running that they had had this standoff. She had had spells like this
    before, spells of feeling stuck, not knowing where to start, how to start. But
    this, this felt different. She felt empty, devoid of ideas, energy, creativity, and worst of all, passion. As each day came, hope was restored. Yesterday was just an off day. But after four consecutive days, she wondered how off she really was. She scanned the
    room, her eyes flitting from the yellow armchair in the nearest corner to the
    desk beside it, its surface smothered in papers, loosely and carelessly piled.
    She rose halfway from her stool before slowly sitting back down. Nope. No. Her eyes landed on the room’s sole plant, her Lucky Bamboo, perhaps it needed watering? It rarely needed watering. She continued scanning, evaluating, searching for something,
    anything, that demanded immediate attention, anything to get her off this
    stool, away from the merciless stare of this canvas. But with each invented
    task came her mother’s voice “running away won’t help. It never does. It is running towards it, towards that giant, brick wall in front of you, that will get you where you want to go, where you need to go.” She looked back to the canvas. Right. Let’s
    do this.

    Twenty minutes later she was buttoning her coat, scarf and
    hat in hand. She glanced – so quickly that the sight barely registered – at the
    canvas, the wooden splinters of its broken frame sticking out of the trash can
    like crags into the sky.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      WOW, Maya. There’s so many aspects I liked about your piece, but here are my 2 favs: 1) This was a STANDOFF. I’ve felt that way soooo many times with the blank page. It’s the perfect description for artists of all kind. 2) Her broken frame in the trash! I wasn’t expecting that. Well done!

      • maya c

        Thanks so much, Marcy! This is my second ever share, and it’s wonderful to get some feedback! Thank you for inspiring me to write this morning, and to share. You are appreciated!

        • Marcy Mason McKay

          My pleasure, Maya. It’s what the TWP is all about — inspiration + participation!

    • Luis Pena

      Awesome read Maya. It’s super reminiscent of my own approach to this story. Nicely descriptive, I could feel myself in her shoes as she looked around. I would’ve tried to turn it up a notch and really get into the environment and her feeling. How was her heart beating, what’s the smell of the pain as it sat there, the canvas? Keep writing!!

  15. Catherine North

    I write a lot, but I also have times when I don’t write. I can usually relate these back to one or more triggers, for example getting bad feedback on my work, or reading dispiriting articles on how hard it is to get published, or realising my story idea has been done so many times before. Now I’m more aware of the triggers, I try to ignore them and push on through. 🙂 Thanks as always for your inspiration, Marcy.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Catherine – I SO admire your honesty and self-awareness. Good for you. Thanks for sharing. m3

    • Christopher Faulkner

      “or realising my story idea has been done so many times before.”

      Yeah, I have a hard time with that one too. One of my favorite story evaluating tools is the question “who cares?”. Often, I have a hard time when the answer to that question suggests that it’s been done a million times before. Coming up with a new twist that would engage readers is difficult. Perhaps, I should try concentrating on characterization, rather than a new plot twist, because they say good characters are what draw readers in?

      The journey continues …

  16. shawngrigson

    Stephen King’s “On Writing” was the most inspirational book I’ve ever read on writing.

    In short, you write and get all your thoughts down on paper. It doesn’t matter if they are good or not, just race down the page ahead of your self-doubt and criticism, before they have time to catch up with you.

    Don’t spend a lot of time rereading what you’ve already written because either A) You’ll think it’s the most brilliant thing anyone has ever written, which is dangerous thinking or B) You’ll think it’s absolutely terrible, horrible crap.

    In both case A and B, you’re far too close to it. It’s far too personal for you to be objective about it.

    Just move on, and keep writing, and remember that however awful it might be in it’s ‘finished’ form, it’s not actually finished until you revise it.

    There’s a gem in there somewhere, but to mine out the gems, you have to fill the page with rocks first.

    • Marcy Mason McKay


      “On Writing” is a small handful of books that I keep visible from desk at all times. It’s one of those I read every few years and glean more wisdom from each time.
      I LOVE it.

      Thanks for sharing these truths with us.

  17. Ayesha Harben

    It was 4 am. She sat staring at a blank
    word document on her laptop. Her fingers hovered over the keyboard.

    It was just not happening. She had no idea
    how to begin the story that was struggling to come out of her. The story was
    there….it had been creeping into her head for months, for years in fact. But
    every time she sat down to write, nothing happened.

    She stared around the room. Maybe there was
    something that would spark off a word, a sentence, an idea that would get her
    going. Her fingers hovered enthusiastically over the keyboard. Nothing.

    Think positive, she thought. Picture yourself
    in blue, your fingers literally flying over the keyboard, churning out page
    after page of a riveting novel. Her
    fingers hovered eagerly over the keyboard. Nothing.

    • Kieran Meyer

      I’ve had the idea for my book bouncing around my head for nearly ten years now, yet even though I’ve blocked out most of the story I still struggle to write each scene. You captured everything I feel when I’m at a loss for words. Thank you!

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Have you been staring into my head, Ayesha? I SWEAR I have done this at 4 am before. Bleh!

      But, I’ve also kicked Fear’s ass and gotten words onto the page. It’s just a continual struggle and not a one-time battle. I really enjoyed this. Thanks.

  18. M.FlynnFollen

    He rolled the grey clay in a circle to perfect a globe in his work shop. Kneaded it to a sharpened pick against his worn wooden desk top. Connected the ends and made a near perfect circle, perfectly. He stared, he considered the softness of the grey clay. A warm breeze blew in through the propped open workshop door and made him turn to the day for a moment. He checked the air temperature. He sighed and rolled it back to ball between his hands feeling the clay slightly stick to the palms of his hands. He slapped it to pancake like a pizza pie, Folded it to a taco half moon and again to a pedaled cone. He sat, stared then went for a smoke outside.

    He came back in then saw some trash and clutter before he could make it to his desk. He cleaned it up, with his grey clay drying in his peripheral. He drew attention to the old dingy white walls that needed to be re painted, he began to google the nearest paint store. He walked outside to his pale blue pick-up and hopped behind the wheel. He looked forward from the truck and saw a pile of old dry clay laying next to his garbage. He turned back to his workshop door and starred then turned the ignition key.

    • Marcy Mason McKay


      Fear won again. This was another one that hurt my heart to read, but that’s GOOD. You captured the subtle procrastination and fear that sabotaged this poor guy.

      It’s okay. This happens to us all. I always enjoy your practices and appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there.

      • M.FlynnFollen

        Thanks Marcy! I am happy you enjoy them. I was just thinking…Isn’t it interesting to write about a writers procrastination? To give it more attention than it already gets? Like counting time counter-clockwise?

        • Marcy Mason McKay

          Wow! I hadn’t thought it that way, but I LOVVVVVE the concept of “counting time counter-clockwise.”
          That is both profound and deep. Keep exploring that. m3

  19. Pamela Hodges

    Marcy McKay,
    My cat Pooh loved your name. As do I.
    I am not writing because I am moving everything from my basement into my garage. A good way to deal with grief.
    I love your article. Yes, more doing. Less talking.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Sweet Pamela,

      I haven’t stopped thinking of Pooh since I read Joe’s post of his death. I really did enjoy your cat’s posts. You’re were also a good and faithful typist. Your love for Pooh was BIG, so I imagine your grief will not be small. Be gentle with yourself.

      Pooh would like the shortened version of my name:

  20. Jacob Jarecki

    “I, I don’t know where I am.”

    James stared into the mirror at his reflection. He looked trim. He looked good. But not too good. That would be bad. James wasn’t going for the lead. Just below. He needed to be approachable, non-threatening.

    “I, I don’t know WHO I am.”

    His voice quivered. Boy, was he feeling it. The marooned sailor. Being questioned by the captain of a trading vessel. Years and years of being alone. What would society feel like to that man.

    “I, I don’t want to come, get away, get AWAY.”

    James looked away from the mirror, shielding his face with his hands. He felt it. He felt this sailor’s struggle. And he was enjoying it, the emoting. God, it felt good.

    James placed a finger on his cheek. It was wet. A tear. Oh, wow, the audition tonight was going to go great!

    “Eye, eye, where, who, when, what!?? HAhahahaa. James, you can be such a dramatic, you know?”

    James felt his heart sink. Was the stutter too much? It wasn’t in the script. But it was there by intent, he felt. But the casting team might not agree. What if they thought it was stupid.

    “You think it was too much, Gary?”

    Gary was James’s roommate. A decent sort, always helped with dishes and trash and such.

    “Oh, who am I to know, who am I to know? Bit much for me, I guess.”

    But Gary was an attentive audience. He knew good performance. Oh, jeesh, what to do? They are going to hate me. And the audition was tonight. James couldn’t change his delivery now.

    “Gary, do you want to order a pizza for us, tonight? While you pick it up, I could walk to the liquor store and grab some beers?”

    Yes, this was better. Have a nice, normal evening. Rethink, find another role to audition for.

    “Sure thing, James, sure thing.”

    The sailor would have to stay marooned just a little longer.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Ouch. This hurt to read, Jacob. But, there are thousands of Jacobs doing that in one way or another through the various arts. Sorry, but I want to punch Gary in the face for sabotaging him. His treachery was subtle, too…”bit much for me…want pizza and beer instead?”

      Your practice was amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Doug

    I haven’t written yet. I think it’s because I had to get these silly first 51 years out of the way first. Well, I’ve done that, and I don’t mind telling you, it wasn’t easy.

    I have always enjoyed reading, and my first real memory of wanting to become serious about writing was at a church bazaar when I was about 10 years old or thereabouts. Among the items they were auctioning was a copy of one of Sylvia Burack’s “Writer’s Handbook” series, for whatever year it was. I had about a dollar and a quarter, but it was just one little book among a million bits of flotsam; certainly a quarter would do the trick, my older sister assured me. So I moved the book to the area that would ensure it would come up for auction. Eons later, they finally noticed it and started taking bids. I bid my quarter. Now for some inexplicable reason, the local “church lady” – don’t we all have one? – took a liking to this one book that this little 10 year old kid wants, and she starts bidding against me. I quickly burned through my dollar and a quarter and still she kept on bidding. Before long, other people were chiding her to “let the little kid buy his book”, but we kept going, back and forth. Luckily my older sister subsidized my efforts, and eventually the old bag relented, and I got my first book on writing for the astronomical sum of 3 dollars. I still have that book to this day.

    Somewhere in me is the ability to write. I saw the title of this article and, as I have with dozens of similar ones before, I dove into it, hoping it would hit the nerve that would finally help me flick that elusive “on” button, after which I would inevitably spew metric tons of spun gold from my pen, earning accolades, respect, and boatloads of money. Or at least make my 3 bucks back.

    I think I have all of the tools. I have at least a passable command of the language. I am a member of Mensa so, you know, I can play the pomposity card at the drop of a hat. And many friends tell me (ok, many of my other personalities tell me) that I have an interesting take on life in general. Shouldn’t all of that at least add up to a freaking pamphlet or something?

    A lot of what is said above applies to me for certain. In the great Venn diagram entitled “why writers don’t write”, I would imagine that the vast majority of reasons overlap the entire group; fear, time, a lack of personal entitlement, my crayon sharpener is clogged. You know, all of the cliches. For me, it almost feels like I’m waiting to be given permission or something. So I look at my voluminous library of books on writing – yes, that first book bred pretty profusely – and I wonder, “when will I scratch this itch?”. I hope it’s soon.

    Thanks for listening to my rambling.

    • Luis Pena

      Doug I have to say that it was both warm and refreshing to read what you wrote. It takes courage to write on a personal level about yourself and share it out with the world so I commend you for that. And it had it subtle bouts of humor which I could always use first day in the morning…..hell, any part of the day so thank you. Watch your repetition of words in the second sentence of your start and please by all means WRITE ON!!

    • svford

      Doug, I have to say, that was a great piece! I have felt the same way, and still feel like I don’t know what to write, when to write, how to write. All I can say is jump in, and work it. I still feel nauseated when I submit my work, but what can you do? I have to write or I’ll go insane and take my husband along for the ride. So yes, it’s worth it to just get it started, edited, reworked, etc.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      This is NOT rambling, Doug. Not by a long shot. It was honest and brave and gives others hope because it’s NEVER TOO LATE to write. Sometimes, we have to get those silly first X years out of the way.

      Your passion for words ring through and hope you see those first 51 years would giving you wisdom and life experience. They were preparing you for now. I hope you’ll take advantage it.

    • Karl Tobar

      I enjoyed reading this. That little story about the book? I’m certain that is publishable flash fiction, by somebody’s standards. There was a looming sense of humor that poked through at certain points.

  22. Todd Herzman

    His neck is sore, the hour is late. There are a hundred excuses running through his mind to make it okay not to write. But he has to write, he knows he has to. There’s never going to be a better time than now. It’s not always going to be easy, but since when was loving something easy? And writing is a love, even if it’s an exercise in narcism.

    Let it flow, he thinks, just write the damn thing. He’s frustrated now. Why is it so easy some days, and yet on other days so hard? Whenever he gets a little better at crafting words, he gets worse at letting them out. But it’s okay. He knew it wouldn’t be easy.

    Nothing easy is worth doing.

    So now he’s getting into somewhat of a groove. Tucked under his blanket with a laptop propped on his lap. He’s not even paying attention to whether or not he is switching tenses. As long as he doesn’t head hop or swap point of view it will probably be okay. He doesn’t know much about being a writer, but he’s willing to learn. He just started university to do a bachelor of writing. The first thing they told him was:

    “Writing is hard, why are you here?”

    It wasn’t the nicest welcome, not quite what he was expecting. He knows writing is hard, dammit, that’s why he’s here. To learn how to get better, to learn how to make it easier. He wouldn’t of started the degree on a whim.

    Though that seems to be exactly what he did. He was only writing for a month when he decided to uproot his life and start uni for it.

    He takes a breath and tries to relax, remembering something. He’s supposed to be writing about writing, not writing stream of consciousness. It’s all a little bit too meta for him.

    He looks at the time, four minutes thirty seconds left.

    Four minutes twenty two, then he can stop writing.

    Stop writing? But he doesn’t want to stop writing! What if he can’t get the words out, what if he can’t say what he wants to say? What if it’s not good enough and he shares his work. The other writers might look at it and laugh, pity him. What is he doing at university? He’s not made for school, he’s not made for writing.

    Three minutes and six seconds.

    The time’s still ticking, still running out. He’s thinking now he should try and make it to five hundred words but he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to.

    Another sixty words left. Just another sixty left.

    Two minutes twenty.

    His neck is still sore. The writing is getting easier, but at the same time he feels as if he is running out of things to say…

    There is so much in his mind that he wants to say, will anyone want to hear it? Is it worth putting the fingers to the keys to tap out a rhythm no one wants to hear?

    One minute, two seconds.

    He made the five hundred word mark. Actually, he beat it. He’s smiling now as he types, can’t be much longer now.

    Thirty seconds.

    Five hundred forty one words.

    There isn’t much left for him to type. He’s trying to think of a funny quip, something to leave people wanting mor-

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      You nailed this, Todd. “Writing is hard, why are you here?”
      I’ve asked myself that question more than once. For me the answer is:
      I can’t not write. I know that’s poor grammar, but it’s how I always hear it in my head.
      Your practice rocked today. Thank you.

  23. Luis Pena

    “Tap..tap…tap”. The sound echoed through the many halls. A deafening sound to most ears, but to his, sheer silence.

    The sound went on as he gazed out into the nothingness forward. Well, he saw nothing, we would have seen 3 grand original condition, newly stained casement windows displaying the picturesque “American Dream”. A beautiful sight to most, yet he saw nothing.

    Ne he wasn’t blind and now he wasn’t even deaf. He was lost and paralyzed. Sitting as newly inspired destined-to-be-writers do trying to figure out: “what do I write about?”, “what could I say that people would want to read?”, “why should anyone care?”.

    He began to jot down ideas and as quickly as he did he scribbled them out and ripped the page from its book. Write…..scribble…..rip. Write……scribble…..rip. Write……scribble……rip. Until he sat there in a pile of his own lost ideas.

    With the voices of his own fear building in his head like the subtle whispers just barely echoing in the wind, he got himself up from the pile and walked towards the windows. The middle one was always his favorite. As he opened the window and looked out at the many stories below he felt that immediate rush and that beat in his heart that signaled: “ here I am”. He finally knew what he wanted to write, what he was destined to write.

    It’s a shame though that one one will have ever gotten a chance to read it.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Luis! This gave me chills. I thoroughly enjoyed it all, but this part blew me away, “Write…..scribble…..rip. Write……scribble…..rip. Write……scribble……rip. Until he sat there in a pile of his own lost ideas.”
      A pile of his own lost ideas.
      How sad, yet how true. Beautifully done.

  24. Dana Schwartz

    Marcy, love this! That list of “not writing” kind of cracks me up, because we’ve all been there to some extent. Lately it’s the social media thing that’s killing me. I am trying to ease off, because like you say, if you don’t have something to promote, it’s not worth spending all your time making a platform, but it’s hard to step away. I will try, though, because I know I feel better about my (writing) self when I can keep my brain clear of all the clutter and put words into my novel.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Hi Dana,
      How do you think I came up with that snappy list of “not writing”? Sadly, I have lived it all. And, you’re so right — walking away from social media is so much easier said than done. It’s kind of addicting.
      My personality tends to be too ALL or NOTHING (shocker), so I’m just taking the social media thing a day at a time + a moment at a time. I have to really be intentional about it, but in just a little over a week’s time I feel better and less overwhelmed by social media.
      Good luck to you and your novel. Your effort to protect your word is SO WORTH IT!

  25. Kieran Meyer

    Knowing basic chord structure (even what the notes are) is enough to write a song, yet his score sat blank in front of him on his laptop.

    He had been expected to write something in seventh grade, but this was something different. The beautiful girl with the gorgeous voice and incredible talent had gotten inside
    every aspect of his head, and if music had gotten her into his heart, maybe it could work the other way around.

    He put in a few notes and hit play. It didn’t sound like anything. He deleted them, trying again with a new arrangement. Half an hour later the page remained blank. How do I convince you that all I want is to get dinner with you, kiss you, undress you, all in a song I can’t write? His chest ached, his head hurt from staring at the screen so intently, yet none of that translated onto the score.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Ooooooo, nice, Kieran. A beautiful girl inspiring a love song he can’t write. I felt this guy’s pain. I hope he does it…eventually.

  26. Christopher Faulkner

    Add one more to the list: creating writing tools [spreadsheets, templates, etc.] is not writing. That’s my hangup; too much tool creation, not enough writing.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Oh, Christopher! I wish I could give you a shiny gold star. You are 100%, dead-on, right! All sorts of “organization + preparation” to write…still isn’t writing.

      I’m adding it to my list. THANK YOU!

  27. Adelitablue

    This was it. This was the last one and then he could retire…then he would retire. It would be the end. Hed be done with this and hed be done with her. Finalmente. He felt old, as old as the tree this wood had come from, as old as Tree itself. Ancient forests had heard his cries and been watered by his tears. That’s how old he felt. But he was done, or nearly done. This was the last one, he repeated to himself silently, and then he’d end it all. Retire from making the cursed, beautiful things, retire from the torment and the heartbreak, the inspiration and the agony. And from the total defeat of separation he always felt when he finished. Guitarra. Even in his mind the word echoed bitterly, a dampened accusation of impotence. Every curve his hands had coaxed from the wood, each dip and rise of the cool, silky body, etched her name more deeply into his mind. Elena. He’d lost track of the guitarras he’d made over the years. Some were harried pieces made just in time to keep a cobwebbed roof over his stupid, ugly head. Others were divine creatures meant solely for the gods, bringing inspired cathedrals rising gracefully, gloriously over his enraptured, angelic brow. Demon or angel. He never knew which would come from the quiet material in his hands. Never knew until it was too late, until he hated his hands or loved his art. But always when he finished, the total defeat of separation. He hated Elena. He loved Elena. She was the mistress of his art. By her words or her silence was he gifted with genius or tormented by madness. He cursed the day his eyes had seen her and his hands had touched her cool, silky body. But he cursed her more now, now that she was gone and he had nothing to make of this piece of wood. He could not retire until he finished this one, but he could create neither the divine nor the cursed, without her.

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      OMG, this was fabulous! This was quiet, but said so much. There were so many parts I loved:

      …a dampened accusation of impotence.

      …He never knew which would come from the quiet material in his hands. Never knew until it was too late, until he hated his hands or loved his art.

      He could not retire until he finished this one, but he could create neither the divine nor the cursed, without her.

      Excellent work. Thank you!

  28. Anna Lauren

    I glared at the sign above my desk: The key to success as an author is to write something every day. “Oh shut up!”

    The cat stared at me. His green eyes blinked and he twitched his ears disdainfully as I edged closer to my bed. “Don’t look at me like that cat, I’m thinking… okay, I’m thinking about thinking.”

    Get up—have some coffee. Need to keep awake to write.

    “Travis, stop purring. If I have to stay awake, so do you. Wake up… smell
    the coffee… pen… where’s my pen?”

    Mmmm, this is so nice… don’t you just love the smell of fresh sheets? Don’t
    you love the…

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Terrific, Anna. Sleep and the temptation of beloved pets. Obviously, you are a big animal lover since it’s your profile pic. I appreciate you doing the practice and enjoyed it. Good luck @ stealing more writing time!

  29. christih

    The paintbrush stalled in his hand. He saw so clearly in his mind the skies, the mountains, and he knew what the scene should be. But that very knowledge made him freeze. He knew it had to be beautiful; not being able to create that held him back. It felt like he would be insulting God and everyone who believed and supported him if he didn’t get it right. It was important that the picture be correct, and he didn’t know how to make it so. He tried to reason with himself, but just the idea of wanting it to be so good made him so afraid. So Afraid.

    And so he paused with the paintbrush in mid-air. He knew the rhetoric. “Just start.” “You can’t be an artist if you don’t paint something.” “Standing there isn’t doing anyone any good.” “You don’t have to be perfect.” And yet, he was still frozen. The empty canvas in front of him stood daring him, threatening him, overwhelmingly perfect in its sheer blankness. He stood there trying to analyze how to start. The sky? The plain? A base color to begin? Finally he turned in defeat and put down the brush. Depressed and frustrated with himself he sat down with a sigh and put his head in his hands.

    “I’ll never be able to do this.” He muttered to himself, hopelessly. “I give up.”

    • Cat

      Christi, this is eerily something that just happened to me. I’ve been wanting to paint something from my mind’s eye that I experienced when visiting the home of Georgia O’Keeffe in Abiqui, New Mexico. I stood with the other tourists upon a breezy precipice behind her home overlooking a patchwork of farm land, cottonwood trees and copper red ragged cliffs that she would see every morning as she sat with her cup of tea. I struggled to paint what I remembered in my mind’s eye, but never quite captured it. I think I’ll just keep it a glorious, visual memory and drum it up the next time I have to “go to my happy place.”

    • Doug

      Christi, you absolutely nailed this. “What if it’s bad?” “What if I can’t turn the vision in my head into a tangible thing that conveys EXACTLY what I felt when I felt it?”.

      One of the things I tell myself over and over and over, because my internal critic is Godzilla, is “you have to allow yourself to be bad before you can be good.” The words make perfect sense to your mind. Your heart often can’t hear them. And your inner critic simply won’t allow it. Show that guy (or girl) the door. Fill a wastebasket with junk!!!! After a time, the swiss cheese becomes more cheese and less holes. Maybe there are a few gifted people out there whose prose sprung into existence fully formed and music to the ears of any reader. For the other 99.99999 percent of us, it’s “apply butt to seat and write”, over and over, that gets us there. That critic, trained up a bit, is your best friend when it comes time to edit, to be ruthless towards that little turn of phrase that you absolutely love but doesn’t fit the piece, all of that. But not as the idea is being born.

      Paint that sky purple!!! Make the mountains out of cotton candy! Somewhere, three or four canvases down the road, is your masterpiece.

  30. Evolet Yvaine

    I can honestly say that I do two of the things in your “How to Steal Time’ list. LOL.: carrying a notebook and, when I’m in Writing Mode, writing during my lunch and 15 min breaks. I’ve learned to love 1 hr lunches because I would get so much done. Weekends is a little harder because it’s just me and the hubby and he can be a distraction. I may try the ‘writing late at night” option, though, because he goes to bed earlier than I do and I AM night owl. I stay up late reading when I could be writing….

    • Marcy Mason McKay

      Congrats on stealing time so well, Evolet. I love my hubs, but can sooo relate to spouses being a distraction. Reading is important, too. Maybe you can write part of the time after he goes to bed, then read.
      Just keep working at different things to eek out 5 minutes here and there. Good luck to you!

  31. David

    Dear Me,

    I don’t know how important writing is to me. I don’t do enough of it. I think that I think it’s important to me ’cause I keep doing it, but I’m really not sure. Oh, I write blurbs here and there, responses to blogs round-about blog land. Then I anxiously re-read my responses to make sure I don’t sound like a complete idiot. Afterwards I go back to the website time and time again to see if I got a reply to my response. Always looking for acceptance, any kind of acceptance.

    I rarely respond to blogs where the author does not make a habit of commenting back to their readers. I read a few such blogs -because I enjoy them – but almost never reply if the author doesn’t respond. My ego is too fragile, if they don’t reply then I don’t think the handful of words that I spewed out were worth their time to read.

    So I struggle.

    I don’t make a habit of journaling because I rarely take the time to re-read what I wrote. Maybe I don’t even think the few words I spew out in a “journal” entry are worth MY time to read. If that’s the case, why the hell bother at all? Why would I expect others to read my dribble if I don’t read my own damned dribble? Worse yet, when I do go back and read some of the stuff I wrote, I realize that it all sounds the same, that I haven’t changed all that much. Haven’t improved in my writing … or my life. Another sucker punch to my frail ego.

    But … for some blasted reason I still do it. Attempt to write something worth reading.

    Is this droodle worth reading? I don’t know but here it is. Here it is in all it’s whiney glory.

    One nice thing about the internet? If you hit the “post” or “submit” button, you are getting “published” (all-be-it in the loosest possible definition of the word). And that does something for the poor, wretched and frail ego of all us writer want-to-bees, or maybe I should say whine-a-bees. I suppose I shouldn’t be so presumptuous as to include the rest of you folks in that “want-to-be, whine-a-bee” comment. Maybe it’s just me.

    So this is my excuse-du-jour for not writing.

    … The jury is still out on whether it was worth writing …

    … … Please submit your comments below, but don’t be too hard on me, my bruised ego already hurts and I don’t feel like climbing back under that rock from which I just emerged to “pen” these few words … …

    … … … On the plus side though – I Wrote something … … …


    • Susan W A

      Consider your ego stroked. I love this. Certainly hits a chord with me, who is fairly new to creative writing, and by that I mean trying to write thoughtful responses to blogs (mostly here on TWP) with as much rich vocabulary and phrasing as I can muster for that day. I, too, read and re-read my posts or parts of my sporadic journal, sometimes with a cringe if I think it’s not so good, or with perhaps inflated pride if my words spark my imagination.

      Checking and re-checking for responses? I know the statistics of hits on a website sky-rockets for posts that I’ve made a comment on.

      If you want genuine support, you’ve come to the right place. While there may not always be a response to your post, here you can surely imagine correctly that your writing is being well-received anywhere on the scale of imperfection to ready to publish. I learn so much from reading others’ entries, and from others’ insecurities when they are already oh so far ahead of me in experience and talent. The advice given on this and the contributors’ excellent websites surely indicates that we’re not alone in doubting the worth of our writing. Nevertheless, the message comes through loud and clear … “set your fear free” and release your words to the world. I’ll say I’m proud of you for doing that here today!! Know that you’re in good company and let that colorful swirl of writing essence deep within you float through your cells, swirl the ideas hidden in your mind, and flow through your fingertips. If you haven’t already, continue checking past posts for inspiration and validation that your writing is most definitely worthwhile.

      In your piece, AMONG OTHER PARTS, I like:

      “Dear Me,”;

      ‘responses to blogs round-about blog land”;

      “Then I anxiously re-read my responses to make sure I don’t sound like a complete idiot. Afterwards I go back to the website time and time again to see if I got a reply to my response. Always looking for acceptance, any kind of acceptance.”;

      “the handful of words that I spewed out”;

      “I realize that it all sounds the same, that I haven’t changed all that much. Haven’t improved in my writing … or my life”

      • Susan W A

        Oh… I do see some of your other writing, including your piece about editing on the “11 Writing Tips…” post. Great stuff.

  32. Alex S

    Carla got up from her computer with a glance through the open window.
    The sunshine streaming in was all the incentive she needed to get out
    onto the perfectly-cut green lawn of her suburban home and kick her
    shoes off. The grass felt moist and supple beneath her toes, and she
    spread her arms wide to soak in the sunlight, a gently breeze blowing
    her hair. It seemed like a perfect day for dancing! Carla stretched out a
    leg, skipping lithely across the lawn. Her long wispy dress wrapped
    around her ankles as she spun and pirouetted, her long auburn hair
    covering her eyes, but not her smile, and her eyes danced along with her
    slender body. She crouched low as she ran and jumped high, legs spread
    in a ballet dancer’s pose, transitioning smoothly as she landed into a
    cartwheel spin. The bird chirped at her from the trees as she flew
    across the grass, pushing her to whirl and leap faster and faster, body
    swirling to her own mental beat. The sound of feet stomping and clapping
    hands, high and low voices chanting and laughing, a veritable crowd of
    onlookers cheered in her mind, even as she whirled and spun faster and
    faster. Like at a Russian wedding the chanting sped up with each beat,
    the girl’s hair whipping across her face, catching in her moist, supple
    lips, her eyes alive, more alive than she would ever see for herself.
    The crescendo in her ears grew to a deafening roar, and with a huge
    leap, she flipped head over heels to land in a gracious bow, panting,
    before the tall pines and cedars that held her chirping audience. Carla
    flung her head back to get the hair out of her eyes and held her face up
    to the sun as she caught her breath. She hadn’t danced like that in
    ages, years it seemed! In fact, she had never danced like that. Carla
    couldn’t even remember the last time she had run and jumped. Had she
    ever been able to move so quickly, so effortlessly? With a start, Carla
    looked away from the window, a message box appearing on her computer
    screen. An update message. She looked down at her wrinkled hands, curled
    around the plastic keys before her. Had she ever done a cartwheel in
    her life? It seemed like the past decade had been nothing but a series
    of excersizes in standing and sitting, with far too few breaks in
    between. She hit the glowing green button on the computer screen. With a
    buzz, it turned off, leaving her staring at the aged reflection on the
    black screen. Her withered hair hung listlessly around her face, the
    bags under her eyes drooping sadly. Could she ever dance like that, or
    was it just her imagination. With a creaking of bones, she pushed hard
    on her armrests and shambled to her feet. Her back pained her, but she
    shuffled to the door, opening it to the complaints of her old joints.
    The sunshine streamed in on her face, the breeze shook out the dust from
    her hair, Carla closed her eyes and straightened her back. She
    stretched out a leg, skipping woodenly out across the lawn…

  33. Chris

    Why do they call it writer’s block anyway? he silently quipped to himself. Like there’s a flow that’s being blocked… A barrier on a path, traffic in the road, a dam blocking a river. Writing’s not at all like that… No, there are no roads and flows in writing. His thoughts paused for effect. No – writing is being a lost wanderer in an infinite forest. View obscured by dense foliage. An abundance of shade surrounds you. You have no compass, nor any muse to light the way. You are alone with only your helplessness as guide. A subtle pride cunningly mused into his mind as these thoughts formed and became articulated within, a arrogance misplaced in his identity as a writer. We writers…

    • Susan W A

      LOVE this! Each line presents an iridescent bubble, released to meander in my mind. Hard to choose which of your statements to comment on; they flow so beautifully … Wait, they don’t flow, they wander beautifully, sharing captivating ideas. I do have to give an extra shout out to this line, though. “His thoughts paused for effect” — clever; brings forth a grin.

      Thanks for creating and sharing.

    • Doug

      A very interesting point of view. Thanks for taking the time to share this piece. You’re right. The “shape” of writing is probably almost like a fingerprint, as unique to the writer as it is the piece. It’s one of the scariest parts of writing as you’re doing it, and one of the most rewarding once you’ve found your way through it. It’s like a completely darkened room, with objects that cannot be anticipated when you enter, and an opposite side that is of indeterminate distance from the entry point. We must shine our feeble light, a little at a time, exposing the form, inch by agonizing inch, until the entire room is illuminated by our industry and our creativity.

      My only caution is, don’t go in barefooted because the legos will most certainly find you.

  34. Sheilah

    Thank you for this article, Marcy! It describes me to a T. Like Doug, I’ve had these first 56 years to tell myself to write! I just haven’t listened-yet. I still recall the time when I was a freshman in high school and, wanting to be like my English teacher who wrote short stories, conjured up a silly one to show her. The teacher read it (it REALLY wasn’t any good at ALL) and told me to keep trying and I would get there. I took her lack of “Wow, you are a natural born writer, Sheilah!” as “Give it up and try something else.” But I never stopped dreaming. I’ve attended a few writers groups and told myself I can do it, but that elusive yet very loud inside critic shouts quietly enough to keep me from putting pen to paper. Like the symptoms described in your article, I dream of writing and make excuses not to do it. This is the first article I’ve read that has inspired me because a writer has taken time to write about people like me and, I guess, a writer (hopefully, me!) has taken time to read it and listen to what it has to say. Thank you again.

  35. Myk Pilgrim

    Twitter, it’s always twitter. I have found that my most productive days are when I get up early (5.30). I hit the shower grab a coffee and then straight to my desk. But the trick is not to check e-mail, or open any social media. Instead I start up a site blocker for a three hour block and get to it. I’ve found that if I keep the social media door firmly shut I get loads done, instead of 3 hours worth of pressing F5 and wondering why no-ones up yet. Great post!

  36. Starlight11

    Anger’s cruel hands curled around her throat and choked out a sob. Emilie’s eyes burned with tears threatening to spill down her face. She crushed the schedule in her hand, and stared at the stage. It gaped at her, daring her to fill it with the wonder that was due in less than an hour.

    This theatre was the best in the whole country, and Emilie was the one who had made it so. For years, she had orchestrated all sorts of magic shows. They had been filled with light, music, dancing, colors. You name it.

    And now… the royal family was going to attend this show. This show, for which she could not even visualize one movement. Out of all the shows that they could have chosen, it had to be this one.

    Emilie walked into the audience area, and closed her eyes. She poised her inner ear, scoured the depths of her mind to draw out something she could hope to get performed. Her mind remained as blank as the empty stage. She heaved in a shuddering breath.

    Forty-three minutes until the people would arrive. Forty-three minutes until shame and humiliation engulfed her. Forty-three minutes until she lost her job for good.

    Why had she stalled and procrastinated until the last minute? She rubbed her temples, and collapsed into the nearest chair. The tears that had been shoved away now showed no regard for pride. Despite her best efforts, they raced down her face, taking any hope for the future with them.

  37. SouthernblondeLKS

    How should she start? God knows she had a lifetime of pain and turmoil that she could twist into something beautiful if she only tried. Some beautiful little words or a portrait that could make others like her smile and nod in agreement saying, “Me, too.”

    She had a way of taking some of the most painful moments in her life and finding something funny in them. There had never been a situation in her life in which humor didn’t comfort her. She’d been told when she was young to smile because when you were smiling people would wonder what you were up to.

    A mischievous grin washed across her face as she let her subconscious take over, regaling people who were interested in tales of her colorful childhood. She told anyone who would listen about how her art was a second home to her…her escape…her safe place. There were times she didn’t have a home…or a place to run to…or even a simple comfort in life. But even then she could always rely on her creativity.

    She had always been torn, with an inner-critic and an inner-optimistic superhero always at odds. Her head and her heart. Her head had the screeching nagging voice of Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter. The English accent was constantly berating her like a token British judge on every reality TV show in existence. Yet, her heart, strong and Australian for no reason other than insanity, was constantly calling her head a wanker and telling it to shut up. She had constant arguments within herself.

    “Just give up. You have adult responsibilities and an adult life,
    and you must let go of childish hopes and dreams.” Her head would snap at her.
    “But…but…butterflies and rainbows and kittens…” Her heart would argue nonsensically.
    “You’re a bloody idiot. You’ll never
    make it through the world being you.” Her head tossed a hurdle at her heart.
    Not the least bit intimidated, her heart does some yoga stretches, takes a running leap, clears the hurdle, and smugly looks at her head.
    She grins to herself and nods in satisfaction, “Suck it, me.”

    Her imagination had taken her places the real world never could have. It was always been there for her. But how could she put all of that into terms her fellow artists could understand? All she could do was bleed on to the paper, share her soul, and hope for the best.

    And there it was. There was her autobiography. Now all she had to do was write a book.

  38. David

    I just started writing this year, but I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. This article was meaningful to me because it validated the habits I have been forming, and it reinforced things that I instinctively know, but needed to hear from someone else.

    I was not writing, because I could not find my voice. I had no confidence and gave myself little credit for who I was and what I could do, so it’s no wonder I couldn’t write. I knew without finding my voice, I would never skillfully express my vision through writing. I finally started giving myself some credit, and being less self-critical. I honed by communication skills by writing tons of work emails and I built up my confidence by being as social as I could stand and going out and making friends. I reconnected with my siblings one on one. Learning about them brought me a better understanding of myself, and my place in the family.

    With confidence and well-practiced written communication skills, I was better able to give a voice to my vision.

    If you have a vision that is worth sharing, and you have the voice to express it, you will find it becomes a passion. The passion becomes drive to find any and all time to do that thing (write).

    I have been sitting at my keyboard for over an hour NOT writing anything, but thinking about my story and reading what I’ve written, my fingers resting but ready on the home keys. Then I googled “sometime not writing is writing” and I got to this article.

    Once you have the drive, you will write and then you will gain momentum. When you gain momentum, you have to keep it going however you can. Don’t mind the bumps in the road, don’t lose the momentum. Finally, the story comes to life, because you realize it has a life of it’s own and all you can do is put it into the world and hope for the best.

    Thanks for this article!

  39. Lol Barnes

    Grrr. I wanted to get the guide, but in spite of entering three different, but perfectly valid email addresses, your box won’t accept them. writing@btinternet.com

  40. Michal Nancy Karni

    I don’t know where I read this but FWIW: did you ever meet a carpenter who was a afraid to build a chair?? A chef who won’t turn on the stove? just start writing.



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