How to Write When You Don’t Feel Like it


Every writer experiences burnout.

The article you’ve drafted gets boring. The novel you’ve plotted has so many holes you consider renaming it Dead Swiss.

Self-doubt might arrive to remind you that you’re nothing more than an amateur, and maybe you should give up telling stories to sell Avon.

But you know the truth.

Unless you really are an amateur, you’ll get through this phase. You’ll write, because that’s what writers do.

We write when we don’t feel like it.

This post is going to offer some shortcuts for when you’re burned out so you can get on with life. And writing.

The best part of this stuck-cycle is that the magic of telling stories always comes back.

To me, that’s the number one motivator to write when you don’t feel like it.

Write to get the magic back.

Writing-euphoria can’t be beat.

Here are some things to try when you’re stuck:

  • Music.
  • A new location. (write at the library or a coffee shop)
  • Read from your favorite book. (It’s always inspiring to see how other writers make magic.)
  • Timers, to set goals. (Tick Tock Timer is my personal fave.)
  • Reward systems. (No internet until I write another 200, 500 or 1,000 words. No cookies. No shower. No getting off the chair. You get the idea.)
  • Visit a book store. There’s nothing quite so motivating as seeing all those book covers on the shelves that aren’t yours (yet).
  • Write light. Write with joy. Smile.
  • Meditate for five minutes, then get back to work.
  • Try a new routine. If you write in the morning, try writing 500 words at night instead.
  • Announce a writing sprint or goal on Twitter.
  • Call a writer friend for encouragement.
  • Exercise, then get back to work.
  • Step away from the computer and take out paper and pen.
  • Take a five minute break.
  • Write two novels at once so you can switch between the two if you feel bored. (This is something new I’m trying … no guarantee on how it will turn out.)
  • Look up some inspiring quotes. Here’s a start.
  • Remember the payday. Dream of how you’ll treat yourself, then get back to work.
  • Music. (This deserves to be listed twice. Music motivates me like nothing else. I recommend creating a playlist for every character. Choose songs that set the mood you want to convey when you write their scenes. This is why I listen to so many songs on repeat.)
  • Just start doing it. We don’t have to feel like doing something in order to physically do it. Type whatever words come to mind, in whatever point of view and tense.

Happy writing.

Photo by Celestine Chua

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.

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